Should you confiscate your child’s cell phone?

For the past decade or so, children’s screen time has been gradually increasing. According to Internet Matters, a kid between the ages of 11 and 16 posts about 26 times a day. Even with parents imposing limits, about 8 out of 10 manage to find some way around them. Due to this, limiting screen-time or confiscating cell phones has become a popular parenting strategy.

Are you also one of those parents who take away your child’s phone to control their behavior or punish them for poor performance at an exam or coming way past the curfew? According to a survey, 65% of American parents with tweens and teens, take away internet privileges and confiscate their phones as a way to punish them. Technology access has become a way to behavioral control. But, recent research suggests that this might not be the best approach.

A digital advice group Common Sense Media revealed in a recent report that half of the teens feel addicted to their cellphones and 60% parents agree. This results in a daily argument over phone usage.

Confiscating Cell phone:

For teenagers, the idea of getting their phone checked or confiscated would seem a way to control their bad behavior. Parents would like to think that it does. But does this action really work as a deterrent against bad behavior? Do you have any idea what could be going on in your child’s phone when you take their phones from them?

Impact on Younger Children:

Parents of children aged 12 years old and younger, mostly use technology as a reward for exhibiting good behavior. For example, a two-year-old gets time on a tablet for finishing dinner. Now there is nothing wrong with acknowledging and appreciating your child’s achievements but at the same time, you need to consider the fact that they can start to associate access to technology with good behavior.

It is essential that children are not urged to take screen time as a means for fun and gratification alone. Parents need to emphasize quality technology use in order to build and boost creativity and problem-solving skills. Technology has a lot more than games and fun, youngsters should be allowed to use screens not for playing only but to enhance the learning and development of various other skills.

Impact on Teenagers:

The case is the opposite in where teenagers are concerned. Parents with teens mostly resort to limiting or removing access to technology altogether as a punishment such a confiscating cell phone of a 14-year-old because he was not paying attention to studies due to distractions from various social media notifications.

While parents might think that this form of punishment works, teenagers think quite the opposite. In a study, many teenagers revealed that they distanced themselves from their parents if their phone is confiscated. Rather than focusing on what cost them their phone, they found someone else’s phone to use.

Some reacted quite strongly and took the punishment too harshly that could lead them to act recklessly and throw all the internet safety lessons they got from their parents right out the window. Research reveals that a healthy family communication is extremely essential. This way, risky and unethical online behaviors like cyberbullying, exposure to age-inappropriate content, and making online friends who could be sexual groomers, stalkers or pedophiles, can be controlled.

If not confiscate, what should parents do?

This goes without saying that we and technology are in a complicated relationship. Can’t do without it and can’t be completely dependent on it either.

So, how can parents treat this issue? Here are three things parents can use for assistance:

Be a positive example of technology use:

When parents use technology positively and be a good role model for them, children learn from them. Parents are children’s first heroes. When you become a positive technology role model, they will learn to do the same. If you spend some quality time with them while playing games or watching videos, see that these are not only fun but a learning experience for them as well. Also, set aside some phone-free time each day to do something not involving technology at all.

Do not use technology as a solution to everything:

Like it is said that punishment should be according to the crime. You can use technology to urge suitable behavior if the incident is related to technology. But you cannot impose technology related punishment when technology had nothing to do with it.

If the punishment doesn’t work:

A time comes when the strategy of confiscating cell phone and limiting access to technology to control behavior doesn’t work anymore. So it is essential that parents adopt a variety of strategies to shape their child’s personality and behavior. These methods don’t have to be on the extreme all the time. This could lead to unnecessary aggravation and even animosity between you and your child. For example, taking away their phones whenever they sit down to study or do homework.

As parents, you have to focus more on bringing up children in such a way that both guides and urges your child to think about their actions themselves. You need to move towards on a parenting style that focuses more on creating a nurturing relationship between you, your child, and technology.

Monitoring your Child’s Cell phone Activities:

Here are a few basic guidelines you should focus on if you have decided to monitor your child’s phone:

  • First of all, know the difference between monitoring and spying. Your teen would throw a fit for sure if they get to know that you would be monitoring their cell phones. Teach them that whatever they do online, is by no means private. Even they delete it, it would remain there. Open monitoring is not spying. It is just a preventive measure for their own safety.
  • Come clean with your teen that you will check their activity and would install a monitoring app like Xnspy so you can see their calls logs, text messages, web browsing history, and locations. After you have installed the app, you can do random checks to see what your child is doing.
  • Spend time with your children. Talk about the apps you use and learn about them. Stay informed about their internet activities. Have an open and honest relationship with them so that they can tell you everything and share if they are dealing with cyberbullying or receiving online threats.

It is not an easy feat to raise children in such digital times. They might come off as addicted to their devices, but parents still need to know that till their children are not grown up enough, they can monitor their cell phone activities. Confiscating a cell phone altogether would lead to animosity and friction. This can lead to disastrous results and impact the communication between a child and parent. Using convenient apps to check cellphone activities helps in keeping the bond intact.

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