When Should A Child Get A Mobile Phone?
- Parents Only
By: Phoebe Ackland, ellaslist
Excessive texting, online bullying, expense, inappropriate internet content- these are just some of the reasons why parents are apprehensive about giving their children mobile phones and smartphones, despite the practical and safety bonuses that come with having your child just a call away at all times. Without any legal guidelines to follow, it really is up to parents’ discretion.
It’s a hotly debated topic and one that greatly divides parents- on a popular mother’s discussion board recently, the topic was brought up and the responses were many and varied. One mother said “Mine got their phones in their 20s. Kids really don’t need mobile phones. They will be on them constantly and the art of conversation will be forgotten.” Whilst another said “Judging on all my nieces back in Ireland 9/10 is the age.. I guess it depends I think they only need a phone when u are ready to let them out of sight with friends and maybe home alone so that they can contact u or that u can know where they are at all times”.
Here are some points to consider if you are contemplating handing your child this very powerful piece of technology:
There Might Not Be A “Correct” Age
According to the New York Times, the average age for children getting their own smartphones is just 10, with some getting them as young as just 7 years old, stats that are expected to only get younger as time goes by. Stacy DeBroff, chief executive of Influence Central said “I think that age is going to trend even younger, because parents are getting tired of handing their smartphones to their kids."
The New York Times says that James P. Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media who review content and products for families has one golden rule in his household: children only get a smartphone once they start high school, “after they have learned restraint and the value of face-to-face communication.”
Despite Steyer’s household rule, he says that families need to make the decision that best suits them. “No two kids are the same, and there’s no magic number. A kid’s age is not as important as his or her own responsibility or maturity level.” Here are some points the New York Times asks parents to consider:
- One study shows that sexting begins in Year 5 on average, watching pornography begins at 8 years of age and pornography addiction begins at age 11
- Common Sense Media polled that 50% of children admit to being addicted to their smartphones, and 36% of parents admitted to arguing with kids daily about device use
- Biologically, the impulse-control part of the brain doesn’t stop developing until the mid-20s- so children won’t know when to stop
- There are many beneficial educational and social apps on smart phones. On the reverse side, there are many distracting games and apps that can be misused for online bullying and sexting
It Depends On Your Child
According to Common Sense Media, it’s really up to the parents to decide what age their child is ‘ready’. They say to consider the following questions:
- Is your child responsible? Are they punctual and let you know their movements?
- Does your child tend to lose things? An iPhone is expensive to replace!
- Does your child need to be in touch for safety reasons? For example, do they catch the bus, is the journey long, do they stay back at school late?
- Could you imagine your child texting during class, or letting it distract them from learning?
- Will they respect the limits you set for talk-time, text-time or app downloads?
- Will they use use text, photo and video features maturely?
Give Us A Kisa
For parents who really want their children to have a phone for safety and practical reasons but the apps, excessive texting and potential for misuse is putting them off, KISA is the phone for you! It’s a phone unlike any other, it can only store about 10 numbers, and just makes and receives calls. It lacks special features and complicated apps- it’s simple to use, does the job, and will keep children out of trouble, often used by seniors lacking technological savvy. It can also be GPS tracked- so you’ll always know where your child is! The KISA costs just $139 and comes with a charger, charging cradle and lanyard to keep around your child’s neck, with add-ons available for extra. Check out the monthly plans available here, which operate through your choice of Vodafone, Telstra or KISA.
Does your child have a mobile phone? What age do you think is appropriate? We want to know! Comment below.
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