CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Before your child unwraps a new phone this holiday, experts say to make sure you set it up first.
"Please keep in mind that smartphones have built-in free parental controls that come with the phone, whether it's an Android phone or an iOS phone. And so before you let them unbox it, make sure you have unboxed it, charged it, and implemented those," Titania Jordan, the Chief Parenting Officer of Bark Technologies, said.
Jordan said parents need to be aware of the fact that they’ll never know everything that is on their child’s phone.
“We as parents don't even know where to begin to look like we might think," adding "you probably don't realize the nuances of Snapchat and Tiktok and apps that you've never heard of.”
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Jordan said to make sure to set some ground rules once you give your child a phone.
“Those ground rules really are very easy to follow in terms of, we're not going to use this device after a set amount of time at night. If you cannot have phones in the bedrooms, and keeping children up all night, everybody will be healthier and happier because of it," she said.
She said parental controls can help reinforce ground rules, adding that there are three main branches of controls.
"There's time limits, there's filters, and then there's monitoring and alerts," she said.
Jordan said most tech today comes with built-in free time limits, which lets you set how long you want your child to be on their phone and at what times. Filters let you choose what content your child can and can't see. Unfortunately, Jordan said most tech does not have monitoring and alert controls.
Jordan said it's important that parents remind their kids that content on their phones can actually live forever.
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“Just because it might disappear on Snapchat, or in a disappearing message in Instagram, doesn't mean it actually does disappear," Jordan stressed.
Jordan said the best thing to do is keep an open dialogue between you and your kids.
“You need to speak with them honestly, openly, candidly, frequently. Let them know that you are a safe place for them to turn, and that you'll help them navigate this new digital world," she said,
If you still feel lost, Jordan helps run a group on Facebook called Parenting in a Tech World. It helps parents with any questions they may have when it comes to technology. Anyone is welcome to join.
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