How do you know it’s time for your kid’s first smartphone?

September is just around the corner and that means it’s back-to-school time. Families are busy purchasing new backpacks and school supplies for their kids in preparation for the school year, but some kids will be asking for more than just pens and notepads – they’ll be asking for a smartphone.

Determining the right time to buy a child a smartphone is an important decision for both parents and their kids. According to a recent survey, 71 per cent of respondents bought their child’s first smartphone or tablet before they turned 14 years old. Not only is making the decision to purchase a phone a big step, but keeping our children safe online can also be highly overwhelming. But we can help!

In partnership with MediaSmarts and Get CyberSafe, we recently created the TELUS WISE “helping our kids use their smartphones safely guide” to help parents make informed decisions about their kids’ smartphone use. The guide reviews what kids are doing online, outlines how to determine when a child is ready for their first smartphone and walks you through setting online rules and cyber ethics for the whole family.

Here’s a sneak peak at some of the key pointers in the guide to help you and your family make the right choice:

  1. Is your child ready?

Do a little self-reflection and ask yourself some important questions. Look at what you might be doing already. Have you set limits for the use of iPods, tablets, computers and game consoles? If yes, does your child understand and respect these limits?

  1. What should you consider before purchasing their device?

Some phones offer more parental restrictions than others. Do your research and determine what makes the most sense for your family. Do you want your child to use the phone for voice calls? Would they use Wi-Fi to run apps? Do you want them to have a data plan? Does your child need a brand new phone or can you recycle one of your older devices?

  1. Create household rules for Internet use.

MediaSmarts’ research has found that kids with household rules about Internet use are less likely to do things like post their contact information, visit gambling sites, seek online pornography and talk to strangers online.

  1. Share with care! Talk about how their actions can affect others.

According to MediaSmarts, 55 per cent of students who participate in mean or cruel online behaviour say they were “just joking around.”  Not only is it your child’s responsibility to maintain their own reputation online, but their actions also have the power to influence others. Before they get a new device in their hands, talk about cyber ethics and being a good online citizen.

Looking for more tips? Check out #TeamTELUS advocate Sonya Davidson’s experience purchasing her son’s first smartphone.

For more tips to help keep your family safer  online, or to get set up with free online safety education, visit TELUS.com/wise or visit a local TELUS store and speak to a TELUS WISE Ambassador.

Now back to finding the perfect back-to-school outfit and matching backpack.

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