Delaney may very well have been the last 11 year old on the planet to receive a cell phone.
Or so she says.
If not the planet, then at least in her soon-to-be 6th grade class. At least that’s the story she’s been telling. While I don’t make decisions this monumental or give gifts to my children based on what ‘everyone else is doing’, I did know she was in the minority with her previous ‘cell-phone-less status’. I only had to be surrounded by other 11 year olds at a sporting event, the neighborhood pool, or invite a crew of them over. Phones everywhere.
Within minutes of the phone landing in her sweet little hands on her July birthday, the texting began. Head down, she buried herself in the gift to notify EVERYONE. You see….EVERYONE else already had a phone, so there was a lot of ground to make up. Between her birthday in July and heading back to school, I’d say that phone was not far from her grasp – with the exception of her one week at Sleep Away Camp.
She returned to nearly 300 text messages.
THREE HUNDRED TEXT MESSAGES.
In one week.
It is no wonder that setting limits on phone activity is crucial in my home, yes? Especially now that school is back in session AND her sports – both Fall Softball and Basketball – require her commitment and energy. It is simply not an option to have her reaching for her phone instead of doing school work or sleeping.
When AT&T (my long time provider) told me that they had a new app, appropriately titled Smart Limits, that would allow me to track Delaney’s daily communication AND curb the natural distractions the phone offers – including conflicting with school time and sleep, I was ALL IN.
Here’s how it works:
- You sign up online by clicking ‘Try it Now’ and entering your AT&T account information. Choose which numbers you would like to manage. There is also a mobile app (both iPhone and Google Play) you can download for access.
- You choose which limits you would like to set. You have the option to block cellular data use as well as outgoing texts and calls during certain days of the week and times of day. Though Delaney isn’t allowed to use her phone AT ALL during school hours (school rules), I can add in an extra layer of protection between 8am-3pm (freeing her to call me after school if she needs) as well as preventing the same during our home nighttime hours – read: after 9pm.
- You can easily block unwanted calls and texts – up to 30 numbers.
- With a personal dashboard, you can see who your child is texting and/or calling each day. Within the app, you can ‘name’ each number you see as they belong to friends and family.
- If your child is using too much data, you can block their use for the rest of the billing cycle. (For a mom who shares data with her small girl, this is important…..In just the first seven days of our billing cycle this month, Delaney had used more data than I had….a definite ‘no-no’ in our home.)
A few things to know….the app can block outgoing calls – any attempts during a blocked time with garner a voice recording letting them know politely know, “We’re sorry. You are attempting to place a call during a restricted time period set by your wireless account owner.” That’s me. I’m the wireless account owner. However, incoming calls and texts cannot be stopped.
Additionally, Smart Limits only tracks SMS texting over the AT&T network. This means, you will not see any texting in your child’s dashboard if those messages were sent through iMessage on an iPhone. It is possible to turn off iMessage – you can do that here, but keep in mind, if you do not have unlimited texting with your plan, all non-iMessage texts could be counted against your text plan.
As Delaney and I have what I like to refer to as an ‘open-Mother-Daughter-device-relationship’, making these adjustments and implementing restrictions has been seamless. For years now, we’ve talked about her devices (ipod, etc) being those that I can and will monitor and restrict in order to ensure she is doing homework, learning how to socialize appropriately and using her devices with kindness in mind.
What is the cost? $4.99/month for one line, or….if you need to monitor multiple lines – it is $9.99/month for up to ten lines.
Have you tried Smart Limits? I’d love to know what you think and how you keep the lines of communication open with your cell-phone child.
Disclosure: Big thanks to AT&T for partnering with me on this campaign. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.