We hand our children our smartphones just to keep them quiet and happy while we shop, wait at the doctor’s office or simply need a moment’s peace for ourselves. It should be no surprise then that they one day come to us and ask for their very own smartphone. Before you decide to buy your child a smartphone, ask yourself some tough questions to make sure you’re ready and so are they:
At What Age Do Others Get Smartphones?
Being asked for a smartphone is one of the newest parenting struggles we’re facing as technology and the world around us continues to change.
Research has revealed 77% of children ages 12 to 17 own their own smartphone. And 56% of parents said their children between 8 and 12 years of age also owned a smartphone.
Unlike the hard number of 18 when a child legally becomes an adult, there’s not a magic age for when you should give your child a smartphone. The numbers are all over the place but they can be used as a guide when making your decision.
Why Does Your Child Need a Smartphone?
An important factor to consider is why your child needs a smartphone. Most parents buy their children smartphones because they want to stay in touch. The convenience of tracking apps and being able to call their children whenever they want can bring parents a lot of peace of mind.
In fact, Consumer Reports surveyed parents of 8 to 12 year olds who owned their own smartphones to ask why they chose to buy their children phones. The survey showed 84% of parents gave their children smartphones for safety reasons, 73% said they wanted to track their children’s after-school activities and only 16% purchased a smartphone because their children asked.
Why Does Your Child Want a Smartphone?
Ask 10 children why they want smartphones and you’ll likely get 10 different answers. Some will say it’s so they can call their mothers or fathers if they need to, while others will say they want one because all of their friends have smartphones.
Have your child sit down and write a list of reasons why she/he wants a smartphone.
The answers can give you great insight as you make your decision and also cue you in on the kinds of apps you should install and parental controls you should activate to keep her/him out of trouble. For example, many chilren may want to get a smartphone so they can interact with their friends through social media. A recent research conducted by Myschoolarena found that 80% of 14-17 year olds use social media on their smartphones. Knowing this can help you stay two steps ahead by identifying the safe social networks for children and getting her/him set up on them.
Is Your Child Responsible Enough for a Smartphone?
We all want to think our children are responsible. When it comes to phones, we also tend to think it’s just a phone so what’s the big deal?
Even basic smartphones can be expensive. You want to make sure that your child is not going to drop it in the toilet at school or leave it at the playground. Sure, accidents happen but only you know if your child is ready or if she/he has a history that’s going to repeat when given this added responsibility of having a smartphone.
Is Your Child Mature Enough to Own a Smartphone?
Before you pay for a smartphone and add the monthly cost for a line, data and texting to your plan, you want to know that the phone is not going to spend more time in a drawer because you took it away from him as punishment.
If your child is not mature enough now, set a date to revisit the conversation with her/him. The decision to buy her/him a smartphone doesn’t have to be today, despite what your child says.
Do You Have an Open Line of Communication with Your Child?
Your child may be mature and responsible enough to carry a smartphone but someone at her/his school or in her/his social circle may not be. Unfortunately, smartphones are one of the newest avenues for children to bully each other.
If your child fears she/he will lose her/his smartphone because of someone else’s actions toward her/him, she/he may not tell you he’s being bullied. Before you give the child a smartphone, make sure you have an open line of communication where the child knows she/he can come to you at any time should she/he find her/himself in a situation where she/he’s being bullied, someone she/he doesn’t know is interacting with her/him through the phone, etc.
It’s important to talk to your children and let them know you’re there to help.
Will You Be Able to Take It Away from Child?
If your child misuses her/his phone, will you be able to take it away from her/him? It sounds simple enough but once she/he has that phone, it will feel like the equivalent of taking away her/his toys.
Just think about it. How would you feel if someone took your smartphone away? Now try being a child who’s had something she/he feels is so important taken away from her/him. It’s definitely something you have to consider as you make your decision. And it’s something she/he should know she/he will lose if she/he breaks the rules you’ve laid out for her/him.
Do You Want Your Child to Have a Smartphone?
The bottom line is: do you want her/him to have her/his own smartphone? There are plenty of reasons to give your child a smartphone and plenty of reasons not to.
Regardless of what other parents are doing, stick to what you think is right for your child. No one knows her/him like you do and you’re the only one who can make this important decision for her/him.
Ref: The Spruce – www.thespruce.com