Staying connected to the people that matter is a major part of everyday life and every family has its own way of keeping in touch. After launching our new Rogers Ultimate Unlimited Family Plans last week, we thought it would be a good time to look at how people integrate technology into their families’ circles of trust.
To kick off a new RedBoard series, Talking Families, we asked @Gingermommy of Tales of a Ranting Ginger to provide us with some insight into family life and technology. In her own words, she describes herself as a “Canadian mom of four: toddlers, tweens and teens” who uses “her blog and social media to connect, share and save with others.” We’ve set her family up with smartphones and the new family plans and asked her to answer some questions for us about how her and her family use technology. In return, we’re making a donation to a charity of her choice. Here’s what she had to say about technology and her family:
What factors should parents consider when deciding if their children are old enough for cell phones? Were these difficult decisions in your own family?
Having four kids who all range in age, I think each is separate. My 11 year old is more mature and responsible than his older sister was at the same age. He would use the phone to stay in contact with us. My older kids would want to text all the time. I think kids should be given a fair chance, but if they do not stay within their limits then they need to pay their own bill.
What do you consider to be biggest benefit/biggest disadvantage of a connected family?
Two of my kids are teens and often out and about with their friends. I like them having phones to stay connected with us. There are very few payphones and with debit there is seldom any change in their pockets. And, with one child who is learning to drive, the safety factor is huge. I do not like them being online all the time though. Some rules we have are no texting during dinner and designated family time.
What can parents do to manage their children’s cell phone usage? Should they monitor or set any guidelines? (ie: No texting at the dinner table? No phone usage in the house? Features like MMS disabled?)
We limit cell phone time during family hours. I also prefer my kids not to have data on their phones.
What do you look for when choosing a cell phone plan and provider?
Flexibility, I like to be able to add on and move it so it fits our large family’s needs. A plan that includes unlimited local calling and incoming calls is great. Also unlimited texting is great (we have had high texting bills before).
Does having access to the internet and cell phones make family life different for your current family compared with the family in which you grew up?
My kids have access to information at all times. That being said, we need to make sure they are looking at appropriate sites etc. Gone are the days of leaving a message for a caller. Now kids have instant access to their friends
What are some ways you would recommend for families to reduce their mobile device usage?
Set limits and boundaries. Communicate and respect privacy but still monitor what they are doing and for how long. We do not allow cell phones in the bedrooms when they are to be sleeping.
Stay tuned for the next Talking Families installment.
How do you stay connected with the people that matter in your life?
Melanie is a regular contributor to RedBoard