Should a Smartphone be on Your Back-to-School Shopping List?

By Gwen Oldham, AT&T
Teen looking at smartphone

Can I have a cell phone? It’s a question many parents get around this time of year. With kids headed back to school soon, a smartphone often tops back-to-school shopping wish lists. But is your child ready for a device? More importantly, are you ready to take the necessary steps to help your child use technology safely and responsibly?

To help parents and caregivers make this decision, my company developed the PhoneReady Quiz in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics. It’s one of many free tools and resources we offer through AT&T ScreenReady® to help families use technology safely and responsibly and develop healthy digital habits.

Let’s be honest – parenting has never been easy. But according to a Pew Research Center survey, two-thirds of parents in the U.S. say the role is harder today than it was 20 years ago, with many citing technology as a reason. This is certainly the case for my family.

Today, kids are more connected than ever before, which adds a whole new dynamic to parenting. On top of worrying about screen time, we have to keep up with the apps, media and tech our children are using. We also have to have frequent conversations with our kids about what they see and experience online and help them develop a healthy relationship with technology. As a parent this can feel overwhelming.

The good news is parenting in today’s connected world doesn’t have to be a hair-pulling experience. This back-to-school season, I hope parents and caregivers will check out AT&T ScreenReady and take advantage of the tools and resources we offer that can help make parenting in the digital age easier.

Other free digital parenting tools available through AT&T ScreenReady include:

  • Parental control tips for cell phones, the internet, gaming consoles, and TVs 
  • Parent guides on social media use, common apps, games and streaming apps
  • The ability to create a personalized Family Media Plan
  • Tips from experts to help navigate difficult digital parenting issues.

As a connectivity provider, we also know it’s important for families and students to have the digital skills needed to use the internet and devices safely and responsibly. So, through AT&T ScreenReady, we also offer free, virtual digital literacy courses for parents and caregivers to build skills and confidence using technology.   We’ve also created The Achievery, a free digital education platform for K-12 students to build digital literacy and academic skills.

For today’s students, connectivity is the bridge to possibility. As parents, we can help our children cross that bridge safely as they learn to navigate an ever-growing digital world.

Disclosure: AT&T financially supports National PTA via PTA Connected. During the 2022-2023 school year, National PTA and AT&T collaborated to create Ready, Tech, Go! – a new program that helps parents and caregivers reflect on screen readiness, become familiar with tools and resources to help determine screen readiness, and gain tips and ideas to promote a healthy digital home. More information about Ready, Tech, Go! is coming soon to the PTA website.

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