What Age To Buy Cell Phone For Child
The smartphone offers unfettered access to the internet and the good things and dangers that come with it. The challenge for parents is to determine when their kids are old enough to absorb the benefits while sidestepping all the negativities. This article seeks to shed more light on the right age to give kids their own smartphones.
what age to buy cell phone for child
According to a recent study by Common Sense Media, 53% of kids in the United States have their own smartphones by age 11 (Victoria & Michael, 2019). The same study found out that by the age of 12 years, more than a third of kids have their own smartphones. This age is poised to trend even younger in the coming years. Worried parents cannot help but wonder, should there be an age limit on cell phones?
Research suggests that there should be an age limit. But in reality, there are no legal guidelines to determine when parents should hand smartphones to their little one. As such, buying your child a smartphone should be a well-thought and meticulous decision.
The bottom line here is that there are many advantages and disadvantages to smartphone use. It will be up to you as a parent or guardian to weigh whether there are more pros than cons or the other way around.
Among the ways to determine whether your child is old enough to have a phone is to understand its impact on their growth and development. Below, we have culled some data on smartphone use among the different age brackets and analyzed how it can affect them in the long-run.
At this age, kids learn best from live, immersive interaction with parents, siblings/agemates, or caregivers. Given the choice, they would briskly opt for playing, talking, or being read to instead of using a smartphone (Mary, Courage, & Mark, 2010).
For this reason, the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) recommends keeping children below the age of two away from digital screens of any form. It is also recommended that parents limit children between the age of two to five years to less than one hour of screen time a day (CPS, 2017).
By this time, children are starting to enjoy independence from their parents. They spend most of their time in school and engage in extracurricular activities after school. Because of this, parents feel obliged to hand their children a smartphone to keep in touch when they are away. This is the reason why, in the U.S., 40% of children are introduced to smartphone use at the age of five to 11 (Pew Research Center, 2020).
The kids will be exposed to cyberbullying and the over-reliance on peer validation on social media, which can have a negative impact on their development. To be on the safe side, Common Sense Media advises parents to opt for phones with limited features and no web access for young children and closely supervise their use (Common Sense Media, n.d.).
Based on child development, children at these ages are transitioning to middle schools, and this is the time many feel entitled to own a smartphone and have access to educational websites for kids, and rightfully so. At this age, most adolescents have developed vital skills, such as problem-solving, impulse control, and critical thinking.
The founders of mobile technology underscore the need to wait until children are old enough before handing them a smartphone. Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple reportedly barred his children from using the iPad when it was released because they were young. You can borrow a leaf from Steve Jobs and wait until the kid is mature enough to possess a smartphone.
Most kids in this age group are ready to own a smartphone. The idea to let kids in this age group have their smartphones is echoed by Bill Gates. The tech giant co-founder did not let his children own a smartphone until they attained the age of 14 years (Inc). On the other hand, James Steyer, the founder of Common Sense Media, said in an interview with the New York Times that he would wait until his kids are in high school before handing them a smartphone (Chen, 2016).
That said, high schoolers are still unpredictable and giving them unsupervised internet access can be a detriment to their development and that of their peers. Therefore, it is important to model and teach them good smartphone habits. Parents should also set time when there is no screen time, such as during dinner or bedtime to ensure children are getting enough sleep.
Parents give their kids a smartphone for different reasons. While some feel a smartphone is a necessity to stay in contact with the kids, others see it as a way to keep kids entertained. Besides, some parents want to help kids stay in touch with their buddies. Interestingly, 40% of parents in the U.S. give their children smartphones to enjoy peace and quiet (Sellcell, 2019).
A smartphone, as you know, is a gateway to inappropriate content and a lot of scary stuff associated with the web. But with a strong parental hand controlling device use, it does have perks. Some of the benefits of kids having phones include:
Responsible smartphone use for children is about four things: managing mobile costs, keeping the smartphone safe, being respectful, and sticking to family rules. Regardless of the age you give the kid a smartphone, you must teach them how to tick all these boxes.
A smartphone is an indispensable device that embodies the digital age. As mobile technology evolves, there is no doubt smartphones will continue to change the way we live. It is redefining parenting and one tricky question parents are facing today is, at what age should a child get a smartphone?
As you have already seen, there is no definitive answer to this question. The onus is on the parent to decide when the time is right to hand their kid a smartphone. Ideally, or as we have seen tech founders do, the right age to give a child a smartphone is when they attain the age of 14 years.
However, this is not a rule that is set in stone. If a parent deems it right to wait until the child is 16 years, it is up to him or her. But whatever the age, parents must ensure that they are doing it for the right reasons. They should not cave in to pressure to give the child a smartphone because they want them to be tech-savvy or because their friends are doing it. To be on the safe side, formulate your own rules, and stick to them to a tee.
Smartphone use means more than making a call these days. With internet access, children can access inappropriate content even at a young age. They can also become victims of online predators and cyberbullying. These are issues you need to discuss with your child as well as texting and while texting and driving for the older crowd.
All cell phone plans are different. While some offer unlimited text messages and minutes, others offer only a set number of minutes, texts, and data per month. If they exceed the limit, you will get charged.
Apps, music, and movie downloads can also cost more if your child downloads them without your knowledge. Some options to help control costs include prepaid or postpaid phones, accessing parental controls offered by your carrier to help control costs, and setting a monthly budget for your child. Be sure to instill consequences, like revoking phone privileges, if they go over any monthly budget you set.
Parents have different comfort levels when it comes to how much screen time their children should have when they have a phone. Statistics show that about 35% of children spend between 1-2 hours on their phones every day. About 15% spend more than four hours on it daily. For some parents that is just too much time.
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Deciding whether or not your child is ready for a cell phone is just one of the many difficult decisions you will have to make as a parent. With the increasing prevalence of mobile phones, parents may feel pressured to allow their child to have their own, even if they feel they may not be ready. Before caving in to the pressure of giving a child their own cell phone, parents and guardians will want to take into consideration the following advice.
Aside from the convenience, there are multiple benefits of children having access to their own mobile devices, more specifically, a smartphone. Five benefits to consider before making the purchase include:
Educational Support: Giving children smartphones allows them to utilize the variety of tools that are either built-in to the phone or device (calculator, voice recorder, camera) or can be downloaded from the app store (DuoLingo, Goodreads, StudyBlue, etc.) to help them succeed in their studies. They may also access free online lessons, graphics, educational videos, and more.
Increased Social Interaction: Children who have a cell phone have the ability to contact their friends and family outside of school, allowing them to further improve their social skills. If your child meets the age requirement set by each company, downloading social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram may also allow them to reach out to others and create a bond with those who share common interests.
Understanding and Taking the Role of Responsibility: Allowing a child to have their own and expensive possession, like a smartphone, can help teach them how to be responsible and take proper care of their belongings. It can also be used as a tool to teach them about money, budgeting, and the consequences of overspending. You can do so by including them on the details of your family plan and letting them know how much data they will have each month.
"How [and when] a phone should be introduced to a child can be confusing for a parent. For some, it might be a basic phone as a safety precaution. For others, it may be a smartphone, which could just be a way of keeping a child occupied. Parents might also relent to the 'But everyone has a phone!' argument. And others may feel their child is old enough, and emotionally ready, to handle the responsibility of using a phone," says Laurie Singer MS, LMFT, BCBA, adding, "Regardless of why a parent gives a child a cell phone, it's imperative that they talk with their children about how they can use the phone [...] and how and when they can't use it." 041b061a72