Check In On Safety BasicsIt helps to start with a review of basic safety. Kids should know not to walk in the middle of the road, to use sidewalks wherever possible and to stay on the shoulder on more rural roads, to stick to crosswalks to change sides of the street, to look both ways before crossing, and to wear reflective, highly visible clothing if they’re walking after the sun goes down. A refresher on these rules never hurts, especially as the winter months see more kids out in the dark on their way home.
Establish Phone Rules
Add to these basic rules a set of phone rules. For example, if your kids need to use their phone to get around because you’ve just moved to the neighborhood, start by setting a rule that they can only use audio directions over a speaker, instead of headphones. Kids shouldn’t be allowed to play games in areas where they need to pay special attention to their surroundings, such as dirt roads or roads without sidewalks, . In areas with sidewalks, you can relax rules about music and headphones, but kids should understand that their safety is their responsibility, and all it takes is a distracted driver and a distracted pedestrian meeting at the wrong time.
There will need to be some exceptions. Kids should be able to send texts and take calls, especially for their own safety and, as they get older, to communicate with homework partners and employers. But you should curate the list of who kids can call and when.
Kids need to understand when to listen to adults.
The question, of course, is how you enforce this, and parental control software can help. Kids should understand why the software is in place and what apps will be available during their school commute and why. Games, music software, and social media apps, in particular, should be filtered, and consider in some cases making use of the time lock that prevents the phone from being used at all.
Set The Right Tone
The most important step, however, is to lead by example. Most kids learn how to use their phone, for good or for bad, from how their parents use their phones. If you’re constantly distracted by texts, games, and apps when you should be watching where you step, or watching the road, kids will assume that this is just how adults go through the world, and start imitating them. Make a point of turning off your phone, only using headphones where appropriate, and modeling the right behavior.
Parental control apps can help parents keep kids safe, whether they’re walking on the side of the road or being driven to school. To learn more, try Screen Time for free!