I warned myself before I decided on getting a mobile phone for Matthew two or so years ago (link to the previous post here: That Question… ). It wasn’t so much as not allowing him to have one or giving him strict restrictions on the use of such a device. It was more about him being responsible with his own things. Something that he has been taking a lot of time to master.
The main purpose of letting Matthew have a phone on his person was so that he always had a way to contact us. It was meant to be both ways but since the phone was always on silent mode when he was in school, he almost always never answers our calls or replies to our messages. I never really understood his reasoning on why he doesn’t go through the messages that had notifications flashing on his phone. He just doesn’t reply to them and if he did, it would normally make little sense.
The first phone that he really recognized as his own phone was the blue Nokia 105 that he had picked out from the local neighbourhood shop. He picked it because he wanted it and probably because of nostalgia. The nostalgia would have been from us talking to him about the mobile phones that we (me and mum) had when we were younger, and both of us had a few Nokias when they were all the rage.
In recent times (calendar check, the year is 2017), children younger than 11 can be seen toting their own mobile devices. Some of them even as new and as expensive as the latest Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxies. I was relieved that Matthew did not have such an attraction to those kind of things and preferred a basic (and nostalgic) device such as the Nokia 105 instead. Alas, my fears about his being responsible with his things (or lack thereof) came into view a few weeks after he got the phone. He lost it. At a bus stop. After that incident we handed him our old Blackberry but it was not as child friendly and he soon asked for a replacement Nokia. By chance, we managed to get another Nokia 110 (in the exact same colour) which made him the happiest kid on Earth. I don’t even remember where he lost the second Nokia. It took a long time before he asked for a phone since then. And we never offered until he needed to stay back for after-school work.
Mum and I decided on finally getting him a smartphone this time around. Well, we were really running out of options since the local telco announced that 2G connectivity would soon cease and the old Nokias that Matthew wanted wouldn’t work anymore. Luckily, I was up for a mobile re-contract at the time so there was a chance for getting a good deal on a new mobile phone. Asking him about his choice of smartphone probably wasn’t such a good idea since he decided to end up with a huge 6-inch phone (or in modern tech-speak, a phablet). But it worked out fine. He would give it up once he got home and we would hand it back to him in the morning to bring to school. (Of course, he would sneak it away every now and then when he gets the chance to snatch it in the house)
But that’s not going to be the end of it. Now, we are in the situation where security would become an issue. We have been very open with discussing things about social media, Internet use and cyber security with Matthew. But then, Matthew is still a bit too careless and carefree to really worry about the reality of the dangers of living in this digital age. So it’s up to us to manage it as best as we can as parents. Luckily, parental control apps are now widely available for both Android and iOS. And while majority of these are paid apps, some of them are actually worth the subscription costs. We are currently reviewing our options here, and with some free trials here and there, I think it is safe to assume that we would be arriving at a sound decision soon.
I would like to hear from those of you who have or are also considering getting a parental control app for your kid’s devices. I have narrowed down my options to the following parental control apps: Norton Family, SecureTeen and Kaspersky. They all have their pros and cons and I would be happy to share my choice when I have decided on it, but in the meantime, please feel free to share yours.