Too often, parents spend their time thinking of all the reasons why their child shouldn’t get a phone. While there are plenty of reasons young kids shouldn’t have phones, it’s also important to know when it is time. After all, if your child doesn’t have a phone when it’s truly needed, it can quickly become problematic.
Every child is different, as is every family, but listed below are six signs to look for to know when it might be time for your child to get his or her first phone.
The biggest thing a child needs to demonstrate before earning the right to a first phone is responsibility. Every kid is different in terms of the age at which they mature and how fast they accept responsibility. But once they start to display that capacity, you’ll know.
Don’t be shy about testing your kid’s level of responsibility. Pay attention to how honest they are about what they’re doing with their friends. Give them responsibilities such as savings goals and chores. See how diligent they are in following through with those responsibilities. These smaller duties will prove very telling when deciding whether or not your kid is ready for a phone.
You might also consider starting your child out with a kids phone at a young age. Kid-friendly phones come equipped with basic features such as calling and texting. But they don’t allow for internet browsing or social media, meaning your kid will be less distracted and much safer. You’ll have peace of mind. Plus, it’ll be the perfect way to prepare your kid for a real phone.
A kid-friendly phone provides a means for your child to communicate when they’re away from home. The ability to communicate is one of the primary reasons most parents consider a phone for their kids.
As kids enter their teen years, they start to spend more time with friends. This means shopping excursions, having sleepovers, going out to eat, and more. You’ll want to have a way to talk with them while they’re not at home.
If your kid is starting to spend more time away from home, it may be time for their first phone. By having a way to communicate with them, you can ensure their safety and your peace of mind. You may want to consider using a child tracking app at first. Once you’ve built a sufficient level of mutual trust, they can text you updates while they’re out and about.
For many parents, a phone raises various safety concerns. What many parents don’t realize is that a phone can actually make their child safer when used appropriately. If your child is ready for the responsibility of having a phone, having one can actually contribute to keeping them safe.
Think about it this way. If your kid has a phone, you’ll always be able to know where they are. They’ll be able to call you in case of an emergency. Once your child matures up to a smartphone, there are several safety apps available for download, too.
When your kid starts demonstrating that they’re interested in more than just games, they may be ready for a phone. Kids typically like to use their phones for things such as games and watching videos with their friends. Adults, on the other hand, tend to use their phones for more serious matters such as communication, organization, and learning.
Nowadays, many different careers require a certain level of proficiency in technology. Since technology is used across a variety of careers, it’s a good idea for your kid to learn some fundamentals early. We live in a digital world, and learning these essential skills early is never a bad idea. A phone can be a great way for your kid to test the waters. They can learn how to use the phone on their own and be better equipped to use more complex technology in the future.
One big reason why a kid getting a phone can be such a risky decision is access to social media. Often, they end up distracted, which can take their attention away from other important things such as social interaction and school work. Social media can be uniquely troublesome because it presents a real danger to children. This is why children need critical thinking skills before getting a phone that offers this level of access to the internet.
According to parenting expert Judy Arnall, kids also don’t understand the permanence of posting things online. Their critical-thinking skills usually don’t kick in until about age 13. For this reason, and many others, it’s absolutely not recommended that kids younger than 13 have access to a smartphone. A kid’s phone, maybe. But anything else is likely to cause unnecessary stress. Your kid could even become a victim of cyberbullying, as just one example.
Children usually don’t get phones because parents fear what it might do to them in the future. They worry it might weaken their social skills due to the fact that they’re constantly attached to a screen. Too much screen time can lead to a number of other physical and mental health problems. For example, high levels of screen time can lead to weight gain due to the lack of physical exercise.
If your kid has developed healthy habits by this point, they may be ready for a phone. Watch to see if they have good social skills with other kids, spend time outside, and enjoy eating a variety of foods. If they’re developing good habits early on, you’ll be more confident that they’re ready for a phone.
Your kid doesn’t need a phone as soon as one of their classmates gets one. And you shouldn’t feel any pressure to get them one at that exact moment, either. What your family does is your family’s business.
Just keep in mind that there will come a time when your child is ready for a first phone. Look for the signs and be prepared. When they’re ready to handle the responsibility, take time to communicate your expectations with regard to how the new phone will be used … in writing.