Family Magazine

Be In Control Of Your Teen's Smartphone

By Joanigeltman @joanigeltman
I am a realist. And no matter how much I sermonize and demonize smartphones for teens, I know and accept begrudgingly that parents are giving their kids smartphones. This being the case, a smart, tech savy parent gave me these instructions to share with parents so that they can  be in control of what a teen downloads and does with his/her phone. Unfortunately most parents I have talked with have a universal/family apple id password that everyone can use to download apps. This means that most teens have downloaded every social networking site invented thus far, since they are free. They include facebook, twitter, tumblr, google chat, snap chat, snap video and whatever new one was invented during the writing of this blog. The reason this is a problem is because is due to the distraction factor. Now, teens not only have to post on facebook, but they have to also be witty and outrageous on five other sites. This takes a lot of time and energy. Time and energy that might be put to better use, like say school work for instance, or spending time with the family, or paying attention in class rather than thinking during class of what they will tweet when they get out of class.
 So in pursuit of helping your teen with this "overload" problem, I will share this smartphone parent control strategy. Be prepared for your teen get mad, to get really really mad. But, oh well, thicken up your skin and deal with it. You can say: "I get you are pissed that we are messing with your phone. I get you love all these apps, and that they are a fun way to connect with your friends. And you can choose to keep two on your phone, or on your computer. There is only so much time in a day, and I want to make sure that you still have the time and energy to work on the goals that you have for yourself, like school, sleep etc." And with that parents, just give a shoulder shrug and ask for their phone. If your teen refuses to give you their phone and makes a big ruckus, just remember that it is YOUR PHONE. And he who giveth can taketh away, and shuteth off, and giveth them an old fashioned flip phone!
Here is what you do on your teen's phone:
  1. Go to utilities and then settings
  2. Go to general
  3. Go to restrictions
  4. Go to enable restrictions
  5. You will need to put in a restrictions passcode that only you/spouse/partner are privy to. This is hugely important. Your teen should absolutely not ever see you put in this passcode, otherwise you might as well forget this whole process.
  6. Go back to restrictions page and decide which of those apps you want to allow. Definitely turn off installing apps. And delete all current downloaded apps. This way, when your teen wants to download an app, they will have to come to you for the restriction passcode, which you will not give them. Only you in a private space should plug in that passcode. 
This process allows you to limit what apps and the number of apps your teen has on their phone. The fewer the better. This also goes for IPADS, Itouch, and IPOD. If you are going to give your kids all these devices, than it is going to be on you to understand and limit. Your kids are in a candy store here, and will not, cannot, and won't limit themselves unless someone is watching out that they don't "get sick." 
I get this is not fun, but your teen needs your help desperately with this. It is like an addict with an unlimited supply of crack!

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