Your child's first smartphone: getting off to a good start
Context and key figures
You probably use your mobile phone primarily for making calls and sending text messages. But for your child, these functions are not the most interesting features. Nowadays, most mobile phones sold are, in essence, miniature computers featuring multiple functions and all sorts of different applications: voicemail, stills camera, video camera, GPS, web browsing, social networks, etc. For most teenagers, these devices have become an indispensable part of everyday life, as shown by the fact that, on average, they use their phones for more than 3 hours a day. But whilst using a smartphone comes naturally to them, they need to be guided in the uses to which it can be put.
Teach your child to use his/her mobile sensibly in the real world…
As with everything we do within our society, using a mobile phone requires us to observe certain basic rules of good manners, which involves having respect for ourselves and others. Children should be taught to turn down the volume and to opt for texting and the use of "vibrate" mode in public places. Moreover, they should be taught to be prudent, to communicate only with people they know, not to lend their mobile to anyone else and – in order to prevent it from being stolen – not to flaunt it. For greater security, they should deactivate the geolocation function on their mobile.
... and in the virtual world
Children should also be taught about the importance of "ereputation" and privacy, so that they exercise care in that regard, safeguard their personal data and do not subject others to behaviour to which they would not themselves wish to be subjected, especially taunts or insults disseminated by text messages or videos or on social networks. They should also be careful about exchanging images which are subject to copyright, or publishing "stolen" photos on social networks. Don't forget to remind them that, as their parent or legal guardian, you will be held liable, and punished, for any infringement by them of the law.
Making his mobile phone secure
Youngsters should be encouraged systematically to install a security code for unlocking their phone. You should activate a parental control function to ensure that your child is not exposed to content or sites unsuitable for a person of his/her age. Configure the restrictions available on the device in such a way as to select the apps which your child can access. If your child sets up accounts on social networks from his/her mobile, configure these with him/her so that only his/her friends can see his/her posts.
Avoid unpleasant surprises when the bill arrives
Choose a prepaid or unlimited package, depending on your teenager's level of self-sufficiency and age. To avoid limits being exceeded, youngsters should be encouraged to check their consumption at regular intervals from the customer area, especially when travelling or calling abroad, and to keep an eye on their use of apps which are not free of charge. Where necessary, you should activate on your youngster's line, from your customer area, the option of blocking multimedia purchases and calls to premium services. You can also modify the settings of his/her mobile device so as to configure a code which blocks the purchase of apps (games, ring-tones, music, videos, etc.) and deactivate the "in-app purchases" option.
Lastly, deactivate the NFC function on your child's mobile, and don't communicate to him/her your personal passwords with your pre-recorded bank card number (iTunes store, PayPal, ecommerce sites).
Teach your child to do the right thing
Choose a device which offers an appropriate level of visual and hearing comfort. Children should be systematically encouraged to carry on their person a hands-free kit that they can use when making calls, so as to reduce their exposure to radio waves. Insist that this is not to become an exclusive activity, and lay down rules: the screen must not be left switched on near to the bed at night-time, because, as explained to us by e-Enfance and the Réseau Morphée sleep clinic, the blue light emanating from a screen affects the quality of sleep, causing tiredness and lowering concentration. Lastly, teach your child to adopt a good posture supporting the spinal column, the back of the neck, and the much-used wrists and thumbs, and to lower the volume – because listening to your mobile through headphones at full volume over an extended period can irremediably damage your hearing.
*Study: "Le sommeil des jeunes, pays des écrans en veille", carried out by the 1st STMG class at the Lycée Jeanne d'Arc, Colombes, from September 2015 to March 2016, in collaboration with e-Enfance and the Réseau Morphée, involving 600 pupils from CE2 to 4th grade.