What Age Should You Give Your Child a Phone? – Almost as early as they start talking, your child will start asking for their first phone. As a parent, you get to decide at what age you should grant their request. You’ll have to get good at saying no while figuring out when the best time is for your child.
There have been numerous studies on the topic, but truthfully there isn’t a clear age at which kids should be entrusted with their own phones. Every child is different. They have unique needs and situations to consider. Instead of marking down a birthday, you should watch for a few indicators that show your child’s readiness.
To act as a parent’s guide, this article will outline a few benchmarks that should be met before buying your kid a phone. Ultimately the decision is up to you, but watching out for these signs can help you think through that decision more effectively.
When a Phone is Designed for Kids
The type of phone your child is getting can determine the age at which your child gets it. You might wait until your child is older before getting them a phone that can connect to the Internet. However, it can be easier to justify getting your child a phone with limited capabilities. This way you won’t have to worry about specific apps and features that could become addicting or dangerous for kids.
A kids phone with clear restrictions will often be a better option than a standard smartphone with all the latest features. A specialized smartphone for kids will have texting and calling capabilities, but it will lack things like an app store for downloading additional items.
Kids’ phones also have advanced safety features for parents. Knowing you are able to quickly locate your child in case of an emergency can be reassuring. This alone might affect your decision.
When They Can Handle the Responsibility
The first thing you need to see in your child is a sense of responsibility. A kid’s phone is a good place to start, so children move to devices with more capabilities as they age. If they can’t follow the rules and expectations behind a simple cell phone, they certainly won’t be getting the new iPhone for Christmas.
This is often a better benchmark than just age alone. There are 10-year-olds out there who are more mature than some teenagers. Maturity and a sense of responsibility can sometimes trump calendar ages.
Measuring responsibility can be tricky. Maybe test your child by having them take care of a plant or completing a weekly chore list without direct supervision. If they can consistently do so without complaints, they might be able to listen to you about phone use.
When There’s a Clear Need
Once you’ve proven that your child is capable of having a phone, you need to determine if it’s a need. A cell phone is a tool first and foremost. While many smartphones are full of games and social media applications, your kid’s first phone should be focused primarily on communication.
Many kids get their first phone when they start going to school by themselves. This provides a way for them to notify their parents when they’ve arrived at their destination safely. You can decide whether that’s when they start riding the bus alone or get their driver’s license.
If your child just wants a phone to play games or text their friends all day, you might consider holding off. There are other games to play and alternatives to keeping in contact with close friends. Remember these options before going straight to a smartphone.
When There’s an Understanding of Dangers
Your child needs to understand the dangers that come with owning a smart device before they are trusted with one. For instance, cyberbullying is a prevalent issue in schools across the country. Teach your child how to handle cases of cyberbullying and how to recognize them before they get their first phone.
To a lesser degree, your child should be aware of spam calls or other scams that might reach their inbox. Instruct them not to click on unfamiliar links or take calls from unknown numbers. This will help them to avoid dangerous or messy situations associated with scam artists.
Last but certainly not least, any device with access to the internet comes with a lesson of its own. Pornography, propaganda, and even popular internet challenges can all influence your child in dangerous ways. If you’re lifting internet restrictions from your child, these dangers need to be properly outlined for them.
When You’re Ready
At the end of the day, nobody is going to force you to give your kid a cell phone before you’re ready. This isn’t an excuse to deprive them of technology until they’re 18, but it can help you to manage your mental health as a parent. Don’t feel pressured to give in to a child’s demands just because all of their friends have phones of their own.
Perhaps it’s because you don’t want them to grow up. Maybe you’re worried about your child developing an addiction to their device. There are a lot of valid reasons why you may be hesitant. Take your time to think it over. You can’t reverse a rushed decision.
Parenting has never been easy, and adding technology to the mix sure hasn’t helped. Nevertheless, you’re sure to do just fine as long as you’re patient and diligent in your methods.