At what age should a child own a telephone? A therapist and parenting expert provides answers
Mobile phones have become such an integral part of our daily lives that it is only natural that kids would want to have one. However, the question of how old to give a child a cell phone is not simple and requires careful thought. That’s why the purewow site solicits comments from family therapists and parenting experts.
Meet the experts:
What is the right age to give smartphones to children?
CF: Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not universal. It depends on the personality of the child, his maturity and the needs of the family. For example, if a child comes home from school alone at 10 years old, this can be a useful tool to have on hand. However, it may not be useful for 12 year olds who have broken multiple phones or misused the device for inappropriate activities.
KG: It varies and is something parents and guardians should consider very carefully before buying one. It’s important to consider things like maturity, which can vary by child. It is also important to remember that a telephone gives access to the world, and that is a huge responsibility.
What are the advantages of giving smartphones to children?
CF: Cell phones have built-in tracking devices that can be used to ensure a child is safe from escaping or being abducted or abducted. Though, if a child is in danger, this tool could mean the difference between life and death. It can also promote the safety and comfort of separated or blended families, by giving children a way to contact loved ones whenever they want.
KG: I’d say the main advantages are pretty obvious: smartphones make it easier to communicate with family, school, and work, and can be very useful in emergency situations.
And what about the downsides?
CF: Mobile phones can be misunderstood and abused, and children can be exploited by bad people. Proper parental supervision can minimize this risk, along with planned and ongoing conversations about how to interact with others on the device, as well as teaching a child not to talk to strangers.
KG: Smartphones are often too powerful a tool for a child’s brain to process all the information and use it responsibly. There are alternatives, such as watches, that can meet a family’s needs in certain situations – and often, given the science and statistics about screen addiction, it is best to wait or offer an alternative.
It can also lead to attention span issues and technology addiction, and create more space for pushing boundaries and other arguments around technology use and access to digital content. Mobile phones can also increase the risk of cyberbullying and, depending on the age of the child, parents should also be aware of the risks.
What rules can parents apply when offering smartphones to their children?
CF: Parents should first consider the types of devices that can be used for family needs and familiarize themselves with the parental controls available on those devices. It is also wise to consider the amount of time children spend on devices.
KG: Really like a car, like I said, a huge responsibility. Set parameters for long hours of cell phone use and consider banning it from the bedroom, especially at night. It’s important to have tough but relevant conversations about topics like digital abuse, cyberbullying, and more. Part of this means talking openly about the consequences of abuse.
Remember that children and families are all different, when did you decide to give your own child a phone, or when did you plan to give one?
KG: I have two children aged 10 and 11 and neither of them have phones. I can’t say at what age they’ll have it, because I’m not sure yet. But at this point there is absolutely no need for me to have one. They know how to ask adults if they need to contact me, know my number and can call me if there is a problem. We’ll wait until it’s really needed, which is probably high school, though that’s not very common.
JA: I have two children, ages 8 and 11. I gave them two gizmo watches last year when they returned to school after the pandemic and started playing with the kids in our neighborhood. They can only call the number we program. No real SMS functionality available other than a few pre-programmed messages. There is also a gps tracker. That said, my 11 year old daughter really needs a phone and some/many of her friends have one. We’re not there yet, but we know it will most likely be in the near future.
Family therapists often recommend waiting until age 12 to give your child a cell phone.
At this age, kids are better equipped to deal with the emotional and social challenges that can come with using a cell phone. Therapists also believe that children at this age are better able to respect parental boundaries and online safety rules.
Parenting experts also recommend waiting until children are between 11 and 13 years old to give them a cell phone. They feel it gives them enough time to develop their own identity and judgment, which helps them deal with the emotional and social challenges associated with cell phone use.
Digital safety experts also recommend waiting until children are between 11 and 13 years old to give them a cell phone. They believe that it allows children to understand the potential dangers of the internet and how to avoid them. Digital safety experts also recommend that parents closely monitor their child’s mobile usage and set strict limits on internet and app access.
In the end, the decision to give a cell phone to a child depends on the individual needs of the child and the family. Parents should consider expert recommendations, but they should also assess their own situation and determine if they are ready to give their child a cell phone.