Kids and Cell Phones: This is how parents fit their offspring with their smartphones

“Hello Hello?” The little ones are still chattering and holding the building block in their ear, while the older kids are holding the resonant flashing mobile toy. And most of all, of course, a real phone.

From an early age, children are fascinated by the fact that you can talk in a box and hear someone else. And they note in adults: such a mobile phone should be a very important thing – adults rarely ignore it.

Therefore, even young children often show a little shyness when it comes to telephone communication. However, although all this is normal, it is advisable to practice some rules of conduct, especially given the fact that more and more children have their own smartphones as early as elementary school.

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“Children should be introduced to telephony step by step,” advised media educator Erin Schultz of “Look! What your child is doing with the media.” The first step could be: Allow the child to call his parents when the doorbell rings.

The following competence: calling yourself, eg the stored number for grandparents. Preschool age is usually the time to let kids pick up the phone or tap the phone icon themselves when making a call.

Should they report by name then? “I haven’t decided on myself yet,” Schulz admits. For Joachim Auer, who as a business coach practices making phone calls to young interns, among other things, the answer is clear: “Later in a career, it’s only natural to give your full name.” So it can be taught to children.

Clear mobile phone rules for kids

The media educator stresses that the more children are allowed to use cell phones and phones, the more important it is to have clear rules. That mom’s work cell phone is taboo for them or they only answer if the caller’s name is known.

And hang up when a stranger is on the line. “The crucial question is always what children reveal,” says Erin Schultz. “So it should be absolutely clear that you should not send pictures to strangers.”

Raising awareness of this is even more important because photos and videos have been used more naturally in everyday communication since the Corona pandemic: Grandma was spoken via zoom and there was a picture of a newborn cousin every day in the WhatsApp family group.

Mobile phone dangers for children

Even young children are very skilled with devices. “It is easy to overlook the fact that of course they do not have an overview of the range of possibilities and risks,” the media educator points out and recommends a very clear comparison for child-friendly illustration: “We don’t have an ‘open the door to every stranger either from the apartment door’.”

Understanding the risks is very important because children often keep their smartphones at primary school age. A third of eight to nine-year-olds own their own devices, and between 10 and 11, that’s 75 percent, according to a 2019 Bitkom Industry Association survey.

It’s no longer just about making calls: people play games, chat, and broadcast. Iren Schulz recommends youth protection apps to limit device functionality to make it child friendly. “Privacy options should also be used in a restricted way.”

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She sees the greatest danger in the possibility of direct contact with children by strangers without parents noticing, for example via game chats. Nearly a quarter of children and young adults aged 8-18 were asked to make an appointment online by adults, according to a 2021 study by North Rhine-Westphalia’s state media agency.

“But some chain messages that are distributed as voice messages via messaging apps also frighten children,” Schulz says. And last but not least, it’s important to learn how to handle advertising calls – or ideally, stop them immediately.

Banning everything in order to protect children is not a solution, according to Media Advisor: “The older children get, the easier it is to do without technical restrictions. Children are increasingly able to get around them anyway.” It is very important to establish rules and routines Clear and transparent from the start, to keep in touch, to be interested in the games and apps kids use – and above all to set an example for yourself.

Learn to talk on a cell phone

Instead of phone calling, many young people prefer to communicate via messaging services like WhatsApp — and then make an effort when they have to talk on the phone again in training or at work, notes Joachim Orr, a business coach. He has the impression that many young people find it difficult to “build a relationship over the phone”.

However, in a professional context, it is often precisely what is decisive: “Only those who win over their conversation partner remain positive in their memory. That is why they may get the desired order, a lower price, or they can profitably talk about a complaint. This is why Auer also practices the art of small talk in his courses: ‘Many young people can’t do that anymore.’

This is how kids fit in with cell phones and cell phones

Instead of making phone calls, many young people prefer to communicate via messaging services such as WhatsApp

Source: dpa-tmn / Karl-Josef Hildenbrand

This can easily be practiced at home with the family—using the same method a media professional recommends: “It is always important to stay connected,” Auer says: “Parents and children, for example, can talk about things at the dinner table in the evening Experience beautiful things.” Positive all day long.

And without constantly looking at your cell phone. Because the correct use of cell phones and phones also includes the ability to leave them when they are not appropriate – in the subway, in restaurants and above all in personal conversations. However, this will only work if the parents stick to it as well.

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