Should You Add a Punishment Phone to Your Parenting Repertoire?

We all know that smartphones and social media are prominent to a teen’s life. In fact, Pew Research reports that 73% of teens own their own smartphone as of 2015. Since teens rely so much on their phones, many parents take that into consideration when it comes to discipline. Bad grades? No phone after school. Sneaking out past curfew? No phone for a month. The list goes on and on. Some parents have even implemented the “punishment phone” — a feature phone that can do little more than send texts, play tetris, and maybe order a pizza.

While this may be teaching the child the consequences of their actions, this actually be way more of a hassle than it’s worth. Can a “punishment phone” really teach your child to be more independent from their phones? Is it the only option parents have to keep their kids from being distracted on social media at all times?

Why Do Kids Need a Smartphone in the First Place?

As parents decide whether or not to even give their child a smartphone, they may be tempted to defer to the feature phone. However, as technology develops and becomes more accessible it is inevitable that your child will need to know how to use it in their school, career, and beyond. Giving them the tools now can benefit them for a lifetime. Smartphones and internet use have shown to teach multi-tasking, quick-decision making, and problem-solving.

Teens don’t just use smartphones to go on SnapChat (though they probably spend too much time on the photo sharing app…). They also use their phone for group messages, checking their school work, and easy access to their email. Having a smartphone in fact teaches them how to be responsible for their own schedule. So, when they show you they aren’t living up to the responsibility, what can a parent do?

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Do You Need A Punishment Phone?

A punishment phone may seem like a good option for limiting what teens can do without totally cutting them off from the world, and your child certainly won’t enjoy the new limitations.

You may hear the argument that the child would miss out on important social updates if they are without their phone. (Not very convincing.) But what does a punishment phone require?

You would need to purchase a phone to add onto your plan or purchase a prepaid phone. You would need to remember this new phone number you gave to your teen. And, on top of that, you would need to find a way to secure his smartphone so your child could not just take it back when you weren’t looking.

Another concern for parents is that with a feature phone you can no longer track where your child is. This is extra challenging for parents that use location tracking to keep their eyes on their child’s whereabouts after school (or if the phone is stolen). Parents may fear that their child is in danger with a smartphone, but there are so many monitoring tools available for parents to keep their children safer than if they had a feature phone.

In truth, a punishment phone actually doesn’t sound very easy. Plus, if you don’t have a smartphone contract to show your child has a clear understanding of the responsibilities of their phone, they may feel that you are acting impulsively. While a punishment phone may sound like the right fix, it’s not convenient or realistic for parents to implement.

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TeenSafe to the Rescue!

With the TeenSafe app, you can limit your child’s phone to that of a feature phone without any of the hassle!

The “PAUSE” button fixes so many problems bigger than a parent wanting to take a phone away.

Are you worried about a teen texting and driving? PAUSE! Do you want them to do research for their homework, but not get caught on SnapChat? PAUSE social media apps, while still letting them browse the web. Don’t spend more money on a second phone. Don’t worry about cutting your child off to the point where even you can’t get a hold of them.

TeenSafe essentially turns your child’s smartphone into their “punishment phone” should you need to use it. As a parent, you get the best of both worlds! You can introduce your child to technology and help them develop essential skills, while also educating them about proper use with the right limitations.

Screens at all times is definitely unhealthy for kids, as it can affect their bed time, grades, and relationships. That’s why TeenSafe is committed to hearing the concerns of parents and making things better for everyone.

Fundamentally, punishment phones are a useful tool for many families, but they’re not an absolute must-have in today’s day and age. Only you can determine the best way to teach your child about smartphone responsibility–because one thing’s for sure. They will need to know how to adapt to new technology for the rest of their lives.

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