Michelle Icard is creator of the website for middle school parents www.MichelleintheMiddle.com
It’s a new school year and if you’ve got a child anywhere near middle school, they either have a cell phone, or a good routine down to beg you for one.
Most kids I know in middle school have cell phones. But just because it’s the social norm, doesn’t mean it’s right for your family. Concerns about exposure, indulgence, finances, and responsibility keep many parents wondering when and if cells phones should be introduced. My kids do have cell phones, because when it comes to new technology, I’d rather be on the early side of teaching safety and etiquette than playing catch up later when they might not listen as well.
In my recent blog “What is the right age to own a cell phone?” I outlined some benefits of middle schoolers having cell phone privileges and some steps parents can take to make cell phone use reasonable and appropriate within their families.
Since then, I’ve discovered a helpful app that parents should know about. Sprint has released the Guardian App and it hits on solutions to a lot of issues cell phone usage has brought into our house. This app allows me to:
Lock and unlock my kid’s cell phone use. If you’re tired of your kids checking Instagram at meal times or texting during family movie night, Sprint Guardian puts control back into your hands. It lets you lock or unlock your kid’s phone to allow use only during appropriate times. Even if your child has excellent cell phone manners, her friends may not. Nothing drives me crazy like texts coming in when we’re trying to eat, sleep, watch a movie or have an important conversation. This is a great solution to putting protective boundaries around your family’s time.
Monitor my kids’ location. My kids have a lot of freedom within our neighborhood. I think it’s important for their intellectual, emotional, and physical development that they are active outside by themselves. This doesn’t mean I don’t worry. The Sprint Guardian app has a locator feature so if my guys are taking too long riding their bikes to the gas station to buy a candy bar, I can just peek at the app to see where they are along their route.
Encourage safer driving. We’re not there yet, but I’m already worried about what might happen when my kids get behind the wheel. The Drive First feature of the app senses when your car is in motion, and turns cell phone usage off (for texting, too) while the car is in motion over 10 miles per hour. Brilliant! I am already resting easier knowing this big distraction will be gone when my kids drive.
Remotely locate, clean, and lock your phone. Kids are going to lose their cell phones, no doubt about it. The Sprint Guardian app allows me to remotely locate a lost phone and, if I can’t get to the phone as quickly as I’d like, lock it down or even wipe all personal data from the device. This is especially useful if you think a phone may have been stolen.
The Sprint Guardian app is available through your phone’s app store for $15 a month and covers up to five phones in your family’s network. It’s a great buy for peace of mind and teaching responsible cell phone usage.