Congratulations! You are one of the few parents who haven’t succumbed to giving your young child a smart phone. This is great-for you, your child, and especially your phone bill. A recent article from Telegraph.uk warns about the dangers of giving young children smart phones, chief among them, a disappearing attention span. And considering the short attention spans children have to begin with, we can all agree that it is prudent to do everything we can to help kids out when it comes to holding their attention.
You don’t want your child to have the attention span of a gnat, so you’ve opted for no smartphone. But there is still a problem-if a child doesn’t have a phone, how will you communicate with them when you are separated? There are a few solutions. One, you could opt for a device like Snowfox or Jitterbug. The Snowfox concept is uber simple. There is no screen at all, and the only person your child can communicate with is you. With the push of a button, your child can request you to call them through an app on your phone. The device is also equipped with GPS technology, which allows you to monitor your child’s location. The Jitterbug is not as sexy as the Snowfox. It’s actually just a very simple flip phone with large buttons. You can program a button on the Jitterbug to call any number you wish.
While these alternatives have their pros, you can just as easily give your child a simple phone with pre-paid minutes. It’s a cheap an easy option for those who want to stay in touch with their child, yet limit their exposure to the almighty screen. And since you control the minutes, you can dole them out as you please. The possibilities are endless. Here are a few ideas:
1. Finish a book
We all wish that we could read more, and our lack of literature exposure. Establishing this habit early on in children puts them ahead of their peers. By reading to kids at bedtime, you not only get the chance to bond with your children, but you give them much needed exposure to books. But you’re a busy parent, and you can’t read to them all the time. Plus, they will come a day when they need to read on their own. Entice them to read with cell phone minutes. You can control the rate: 1 book = 1 hour, or every minute spent reading is one cell phone minute.
2. Do your chores
It’s hard to keep up with housework, and it’s even harder when you have kids. Lighten your load and teach them responsibility by rewarding their hard work with minutes. Maybe you could offer extra minutes for work done above and beyond the call of duty. Or, play it tough and make them an offer they can’t refuse. If the chores don’t get done, they don’t get their precious cell phone minutes. It’s up to you, boss.
3. Punish bad behavior
This incentive has a negative connotation to it. However, it could be just as effective as a timeout, if not more effective. Maybe Junior got on your last nerve in Target, or they refuse to stop bickering among themselves. Show your child there can be negative consequences to their actions by taking away some of their hard-earned minutes. They’ll learn the value of what they have, as well as the price for stepping out of line.
4. Maintain a quota
You’ve only got so much money, and the kids could stand to learn about budgeting. Set a weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly cap of an allowance of minutes, according to Prepaid Bill Inc. This not only saves your bank, but teaches the kids to budget their time wisely.
5. A combination
Maybe you can’t decide what angle to go for, so why not combine all of these ideas? Set the quota, and leave the balance up to the kids, dependent on their work and behavior. It’s all up to you.
There you have it, five easy ways to control phone time for your kids, and teach them a lesson or two while you’re at it.