As smartphones have become a staple for modern life, the question of whether to give a child a phone and at what age has become an increasingly important one for parents. How do you know when the time is “right”? Is there a minimum age that applies for every child across the board, or is it a case by case basis depending on their individual maturity?
It’s a tough question, because there isn’t one specific answer. What’s good for one child might not be right for another. If you’re currently trying to decide whether or not it’s time to give your child a smartphone, we’ve broken down a few key questions that you should ask yourself beforehand.
What are the benefits of giving your child a smartphone?
Let’s start with the most obvious question: does your child need a smartphone in the first place? Do you think it’s something that can make a valuable impact on their life, or is it just something they want? If you were to give them a smartphone, how exactly would they use it?
From a safety perspective, by giving your child access to their own smartphone, you’re granting yourself access to them 24/7 (and vice versa). If they’re in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation, they’ll be able to call you, or another trusted adult, for help. Similarly, if you’re personally delayed due to an unforeseen event, it’ll give you the ability to contact them and keep them updated about your whereabouts.
There’s also an important social one too. If all of their friends at school predominately use their smartphones to contact one another outside or school hours, or a certain smartphone game is the current big trend, being left out from this shared experience can result in some weaker social bonds.
By giving your kid a smartphone, you’re also making them responsible for something important. There’s a life lesson to be learnt about the value of respecting your possessions and taking care of them. Smartphones don’t just grow on trees.
Can they be trusted with a smartphone?
Admittedly, this is a somewhat uncomfortable question but it’s an important one that needs to be asked. If you give your kid a smartphone, can you trust them not to misuse it? If you set certain restrictions on what they can and can’t watch or engage with online, can you safely trust they’ll do what’s right without being an overbearing parent that is constantly looking through their internet history?
By giving your child a smartphone, they can learn the importance of respecting whatever rules and restrictions you lay down for them, while also learning what it’s like to receive equal respect from an adult because they’ve followed these rules.
What smartphone options are there?
From a financial perspective, it’s understandable if you’re somewhat hesitant to give your child something that costs a few hundred dollars – possibly $1,000 or more if you’re going with the most cutting edge option. And don’t forget the cost of their phone plan, either.
As smartphones have become more ubiquitous with modern life, we’ve also seen a rise of family friendly variants. These devices are designed to give the user the positive aspects of these phones, while minimising (or outright removing) the more negative ones.
One example of such a product is Spacetalk’s new smartwatch. This device is designed to be used like a phone, allowing your child to send and receive both calls and messages. It also has no access to the internet, so you won’t have to worry about your child possibly stumbling onto something they shouldn’t be seeing while online, while avoiding the negative impact of social media.
If you think that your kid is a bit too young for a smartphone, or that they might not be ready for the responsibility, Spacetalk’s smartwatch is a great option to get them ready for the future.