Five Golden Rules for Kids Using Devices

The next generation of smartphone users is getting a head start on device destruction. Children are breaking more smartphones, tablets and laptops than ever before, say experts.

Their tech-forward parents have so far shelled out more than $11 billion to repair or replace such devices.

“Teaching tech etiquette alongside the ABCs and 123s is a smart idea for sanity at home. And for the 89 percent of households whose kids have damaged devices, it makes great financial sense,” says Jessica Hoffman, vice president of global communications for SquareTrade. “Kids as young as toddlers are getting significant doses of screen time and, as a result, accident rates are climbing.”

The report also found that 70 percent of elementary school kids own tablets and a whopping 55 percent of accidents happen from children accidentally dropping their devices. Not surprisingly, 20 percent of kids blame someone or something else for the mishap.

“Kids and technology are as popular a pairing these days as peanut butter and jelly,” says Hoffman. “As smartphones, tablets and laptops replace dolls and toy cars as children’s most prized possessions, we recommend that parents do their homework on how best to deal with at- home tech habits, or risk having their child on the device dishonor roll.”

SquareTrade suggests the following five golden rules to keep in mind before letting kids use electronic devices:

• Don’t pack devices into overstuffed, heavy backpacks without proper protective gear. Tablets cannot handle the wear and tear that a book can absorb.

• On rainy days or when you will be around water, use a zip lock bag for your smartphone or tablet.

• No eating or drinking while using devices. Sticky liquids are the most dangerous.

• Limit screen time in the car. Siblings fighting can lead to devices flying out of windows.

• No matter what precautions you take, accidents can still happen. Invest in a protection plan that covers the clumsy drops, juice spills and backpack crushes of daily life.

Repairing a broken device can often cost as much as buying a new one. A good protection plan can cost just a few dollars a month and can buy priceless peace of mind for parents worried about everyday accidents and other “uh-ohs.” So even if your child breaks a device, there’s no need to stress: you’re covered. For information on protection plans, visit www.squaretrade.com.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Tweak habits at home, school and on-the-go to prevent technology breakage.