Tween is an informal term used to describe a child between 9 years old and 12 years old; no longer a child,but not yet a teenager. Every tween is different and each family’s needs are different. Here is an adaptation of some few tips from Thien-Kim of http://www.imnotthenanny.com/ that parents can consider to decide if their tween is ready for their first mobile phone:
• Is there a true need for a mobile phone? Your tween may be using a bus ride to and from school, and buses are prone to breaking down, traffic may clog up and not to mention Nairobi El Nino rains too. Knowing you could call or text makes a parent feel better.
• What is your child’s school policy about mobile phones? Some schools allow students to have cell phones but they must be turned off during school hours, some do not.
• How responsible is your child? This is perhaps the toughest question to answer. Tweens are fairly responsible. But they are still children. They misplace things, forget what they are supposed to be doing, and get distracted. There’s a bit of trust involved here in giving your tween the responsibility of owning a mobile phone. Signing a parent-child mobile phone agreement is also helpful. (Keep reading for details.)
• Smart phone or not? It’s tougher to find phones whose only function is making a phone call. Smart phones are so inexpensive now and will make it easier for kids to text, listen to music or watch movies. However, access to text and data/web means more responsibility and parental guidance.
Discuss & Sign a Child-Parent Mobile Phone Agreement
Before handing over the phone to your tween, take time to discuss (again) their responsibilities and expectations as a mobile phone owner. Here are some basic things to be agreed upon:
• Only allowed to call and text the people on the approved list.
• The mobile phone is not allowed in the bedroom at night and must be charged at a common charging station in the house.
• Ask permission before taking photos/videos of anyone.
• Do not take photos of naked people or people in the bathroom (including themselves).
• If they lose the phone, there are consequences.
• Parents are allowed to view all texts, photos and videos on your phone.
• Parents must approve any apps or games they want downloaded on the phone.
You can adapt the family mobile phone contract from online resources and create a free printable that you can use with your tween too.
Our YouTube Channel also has a conversation on Tweens and Mobile Phones. Watch, Share and Subscribe here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHjeiD-yLwk