If you are looking for a magic age for when you should get your child a cell phone, you won’t find it here. So much is going to depend on your child’s and your family’s needs and their own personal development. I’ve listed some things to consider here when deciding on when to get your child a cell phone.
What’s The Average Age?
On average children are getting a cell phone at age 10. This number is down two years from 2012 when the average age was 12. Some believe the age should be much higher. James P. Steyer, the chief executive of Common Sense Media has a rule in his family. His children get a smart phone when they start high school. He believes kids need to first learn the value of face to face communication. He offers this advice for parents, “A child’s age is not as important as his or her own responsibility or maturity level.”
How Do I Know?
So when exactly is the right time and how will you know? Some experts are saying 14 is the ideal age while some believe a bit older. Most experts agree that later was safer because of the addictive nature of smart phones and social media dangers. Many also believe that smart phones detract from school work and expose them to predators and online bullies. Jesse Weinberger, an internet safety speaker says, “There’s no connection to the dark side without the device. The longer you keep Pandora’s box shut, the better off you are.”
Some parents point to the benefits of their children having a cell phone at a young age, though there is no clear consensus on when that age is. Many believe that children with cell phones have more access to educational apps and have more opportunities to chat with friends.
Limit Their Cell Phone Features
If you’ve decided that now is the time to get your child a cell phone, you do have some options to consider. You can purchase them a cell phone with only certain features. Some just have texting and calling capabilities. That way your child has 24/7 access to call you at all times without being exposed to dangers of the internet without supervision.
What About Smartphones?
When you do get your child a smartphone, it’s a good idea to educate them on the dangers, and also lay down some rules. Some people have done experiments on how fast a photo can travel on social media. Make sure they know that selfies posted should be appropriate. Or maybe you have a rule that no selfies can be posted without your permission. Whether we like it or not, the internet is filled with unfriendly people who will prey upon innocent children.
You should let them know that you’d like to have access to their friend list and their postings. Then follow through with it and check up on them. It’s for their own good. You may also want to lay down some family rules, like no texting at the dinner table. You also will want to watch the kinds of games that they play on their phone. Some are filled with violence and adult situations.
I hope this helped to get you thinking of some of the issues associated with when to get your child a cell phone. Each child is going to be different and each family situation different. A cell phone should add to the quality of your family’s lives, not detract from it. When did you decide was the right age to get your child a cell phone? Comment below!