Figuring out the best Christmas gift to give your kid can be a little challenging as a parent. It is all about finding the balance between something they like and something you think they are ready to handle.
With these factors in mind, your options are limited. This can make shopping for the holidays a bit of a nightmare. However, before you despair you need to know that there is one type of gift that is hard to mess up: electronics. According to Consumer Technology Association, up to 68% of Christmas shoppers intended on giving electronic gifts in 2017. Clearly, they are popular options. If you choose to go this route, here is a guide on how to ensure that the device actually ends up being a gift and not a curse to your family.
Is an Electronic Gift a Good Idea?
This is the one question that every cautious parent asks when considering this gift option. The main concern here is whether or not the child is ready for the responsibility and risks that come with owning the devices. Phones, tablets, and computers, in particular, are the most common when it comes to putting to risk your children online. In light of a rise in cyberbullying, virtual kidnapping and online predators is it a good idea to give your child one of these for Christmas?
The answer is yes, with these guidelines and other resources you will be able to keep your children safe online. However, it is important to assess whether or not your child can handle it. This means not only taking care of the gadget but also practicing moderation in its use. Below are a few more tips on how to ensure things turn out well when you choose this gift idea.
10 Dos and Don’ts for this Christmas gift option
- DO pre-install a tracking app on any phones you give them
One of the best ways to ensure that your child is protected from all the dangers of internet-enabled devices is by using phone trackers, digital monitors, and parental controls. These allow you to keep track of your child’s online activity to ensure that they do not go wandering off onto harmful sites. These apps also protect the child from online predators that use these platforms to lure them.
- DON’T turn into a spy without good reason
While it is important to protect your child you should also consider their privacy. They may still be minors, but this doesn’t mean that they do not deserve a little space. However, if you think your child may be at risk of cyberbullying or engaging in dangerous behavior, it is your right as a parent to put safety first and spy on them. This is something that many parents still do with 48% admitting in a 2017 survey by Pew Research Center that they still go through their kids’ texts. The reason why is due to health and safety reasons since the rise of online predators and the dangers of online abuse. There are also plenty of ways on how to read someone’s text messages without installing a tracking software. We advise maintaining open communication with your children and teaching them about the dangers that lurk on the web.
- DO teach your child phone etiquette
There are numerous unspoken rules about phone use that children should know about. So if you are planning on getting your child one you need to get them educated. This includes things like when and where they can pick calls, how to answer calls politely, returning missed calls and so on. You can teach them about the importance of all of these aspects meanwhile setting a cell phone or computer contract with your children.
- DON’T buy a tablet for a kid who’s addicted to computers
If your child has demonstrated the inability to control their computer usage then it is not a good idea to get them smaller devices like phones and tablets. This only enables their phone addiction. It also makes it easier for them to keep connected to whatever is getting them hooked including video games, the internet, and chats.
- DO consider a warranty or guarantee
Going the electronic route for your child’s Christmas gift will take a lot from your wallet. You, therefore, need to ensure that you are getting full value for your money. One way to determine this is by considering the warranty or guarantee policies. A long warranty is usually indicative of high-quality products. Guarantees also ensure that if you and your child are not pleased with the product you do not have to suffer with it.
- DON’T get them a phone without making them sign a usage contract
Yeah, it is that serious. A phone usage contract is one of the best ways to ensure that your child understands the responsibility they are receiving. The contract can be modified to suit your specific needs and requirements. It also makes it easier to hold them accountable should they misbehave using the phone.
- DO come up with ground rules for using the device
These often go on the contract but can also be verbal. When it comes to ground rules, there are two very important standards. The first is where the child can use the device and the second is what times of the day they are allowed behind the screen. This is an effective way to prevent things like phone addiction and the associated withdrawal from the family.
- DON’T give in to tantrums or demands; give the device only when you are sure they are ready for it
You should never allow your child to back you up into a corner and make you feel like you need to buy the device for them. It doesn’t matter what reasons they give you. It should be your decision entirely and should be based on your assessment of their readiness for the responsibility. Be sure to consider when the right time is to give a phone to your children
- DO make your child aware of all the dangers lurking on the internet
One of the best ways to protect your child from things like internet predation is by keeping them informed. The majority of the children who fall for these online traps are those who have absolutely no idea what dangers lay waiting for them online. So talk to them about everything from scam sites to catfishing. This will definitely make difference.
- DON’T hesitate to take away the phone if your child misbehaves with it
Giving your child a phone, tablet or even computer for Christmas does not in any way mean that it is their forever. If they show you they are not ready for it you should definitely consider taking it away. However, if this seems like too drastic of a move for you then limiting their access to the device is an acceptable alternative.
It goes without saying that giving a child an electronic device bears a few risks. However, the numerous benefits more than make up for this pitfall making it a Christmas gift idea that is definitely worth considering. The important thing is to prepare your child and yourself for the upcoming responsibility. That way whether it is their very first phone or a new video game console it will only serve to improve their lives and not turn them into digital slaves.