Lost Phone, Kids- It’s The Third Time…

If your kid loses phones over and over…do they need to have one?

A 1/2 gallon milk carton that has a message" Have you seen this lost phone?" It mimics the missing child messages on milk cartons. The images is from PC World
source: PC World

Dear Ms. Smartphone: My son, age twelve, just came home from day camp and when we checked his backpack, his phone was missing. This is the third time he has lost a phone this year. I like him to have a phone so that we can stay in touch, but this is getting ridiculous. What do you think I should do? Phoebe, Fairfax

Dear Phoebe: There are a couple of ways to approach this. You could text him every hour to remind him to guard his phone and turn on its GPS to track the location. But seriously, first ask, is he losing other things too, say hoodies and lunchboxes? If so, consider mindfulness training. Or, maybe, as this mom suggests, a smartphone is just too dear, and too much of a responsibility for many kids.

It’s expensive to keep replacing smartphones, so there are at least two alternatives: get your son a prepaid phone that comes with limited minutes, or have him wear a watch that just receives messages and texts.

But, before you consider either option, step back and consider why a twelve year old needs to carry a phone at all times. Did you know that kids are safer now in public than they have ever been? The rate of kidnappings, abductions, and other horrible things is infinitesimally small. As a parent, you should know where your twelve year old is at all times. Since it’s summer, and he’s at day camp, consider forgoing the phone, at least until school begins. That short abstinence might be a sufficient lesson to be less forgetful!

Adding up ScreenTime: Does Meditation App Count?

A reader wants to exclude her meditation app from the count of how much time she spends online…

Can you subtract yoga/meditation/”me” time?

Dear Ms. Smartphone: I plan to set a good example for my teens and show them how to monitor their screentime. I have begun with an app that reports my total time spent online each Sunday. My issue is that I do guided meditation through a phone app. It’s at least a half-hour daily and that is bulking up my screen time. Do I have to count the time spent with the meditation app? Marnie, Newton

Dear Marnie: First of all, accolades for tracking your screen time and for helping your children do the same thing. Readers will find links to these tracking apps on the DearSmartphone resource page. Apparently, there is no way to exclude an app and even Google navigation, say used during a car commute, gets counted. The good news is that the app records your usage in granular detail, so when you talk about it with your kids, you can show them the average time you spend by category: for example, social media, meditation, shopping, and navigation. And, you can watch their usage as well. Muse onward!

Kid’s Weekly Allowance Cash or Digital?

Should parents give kids a digital allowance? Rock, Paper, Phone!

Dear Ms. Smartphone: My children, ages 5 and 10 each get a weekly allowance for doing chores. The ten year old got a phone this year and asked me to put his amount, $10.00 per week, on a Venmo account. What do you think? Jaycee, Quincy

Dear Jaycee: That’s an interesting question. For readers who don’t know, Venmo is a popular app, one of many, that securely transfers digital payments between people, in lieu of paper money.

Your children will grow up in a world where digital payments will become the standard. But for now, I have two reservations about the digital allowance.

Buyers display less fiscal management and spend more when they use digital payments/ credit cards. Parents need to show their children how to save money, as well as spend it. Second, giving your child money to spend online will encourage him to be online more often. Since your child is only ten, it’s vital to monitor both his time and spending online.