A Parent's Guide to When Kids Should Have a SmartphoneMar 30, 2023
As a parent, it can be hard knowing when the right time is for your child to get their first phone. Listening to your intuition as a parent about what your child is and isn’t emotionally ready for is an important part of the decision making process.
What age is it ok for a child to have a phone?
Unlike social media—where children are not legally allowed their own accounts until the age of 13—there is no clear-cut age where it’s ok to give a child a phone.
In fact, age is quite an unhelpful guideline when it comes to making a decision about allowing your child to have a phone. Instead, focusing on whether they are emotionally mature enough to handle the responsibility of a digital device is a far better approach.
Many children will be ready for a phone around the age of 12 or 13. However, there may be situations where a younger child having a phone is appropriate, or when waiting until they’re further in their teens is a good idea. It really does depend on the needs of your family and your child.
What are the pros and cons of allowing your kid to have a phone?
While some argue that phones can be valuable tools for communication and safety, others express concerns about the potential risks and negative effects on children's development. Both are valid sides of the argument. Included below are some of the pros and cons of allowing your child to have a phone.
- Keeping in contact: If your child splits their time between different homes, has a sleepover, or needs picking up from sports practice, they’ve got a way to directlyget in touch with you if they need to.
- Know where they are: Staying in touch with your child is one way of knowing where they are, but some smartphones may even have safety features such as location tracking available.
- Social development: There’s lots of talk about the downsides of kids using phones and devices, but they can be a great tool for developing their social skills when used responsibly.
- Builds independence: Allowing your child to have a smartphone can be an important step in helping them learn about responsibility and to nurture their independence.
- Online safety: Most phones these days provide access to the internet. With that comes a whole other conversation about what your child is and isn’t ready to have access to. Inappropriate content and social media misuse are just some of the risks that need to be mitigated when allowing your child to have their own phone and internet accounts.
- Cyberbullying: While a phone can be a great tool for social connection, it’s also a channel for social bullying and cyberbullying to enter your child’s life.
- Screentime: Kids have an increasing number of digital devices in their lives. No matter whether they’re being used for educational or personal activities, these all contribute to the amount of screentime your child is totaling up each day.
For more resources on how to raise digitally responsible kids, check out my digital parenting courses.
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