Today’s technologies have pushed us into asking how old our children should be when they are allowed to have a smartphone. A few years ago, parents were wondering how old their children should be when they have full access to the car keys. There are many benefits and dangers that are available to children with this useful technology. Unrestrained access to the internet is an issue, but unlike driving a vehicle, smartphones do not come with age guidelines and legal restrictions.
According to some studies, kids are getting their first smartphones when they are ten years old. Some internet safety experts say children as young as seven are being given smartphones. If you are tired of sharing your smartphone with your young child, experts say that it isn’t rare for even younger kids to have a smartphone. Some people believe that you should push back against this trend and teach your children the value of face-to-face communication before they get a smartphone.
Looking at the research
Experts agree that the ideal age for a child to have a smartphone is 12-14. However, it is recommended that you hold off giving your child a smartphone as long as possible. These devices have many benefits, but they can also expose your children to online bullies, predators, and other issues.
A 2016 poll of 1,240 children and parents found that 50 percent of kids admitted they had an addiction involving their smartphone. Around 36 percent of parents admitted to arguing with kids on a daily basis about their excessive smartphone use. The study, conducted by Common Sense Media, showed that most of the adults and children agreed that they used their devices too much.
Benefits and downsides of smartphone use
There is power in well made apps and the internet. Children can access important information or educational tools, and get homework help in ways that you may have never imagined. Unfortunately, they are also able to gain access to addicting games, elicit apps, and social media sites where bullies are present. Smartphones are more difficult to monitor, especially when your child is outside your supervision.
If you do decide that your child is ready for a smartphone, you should teach them responsibility. It may be a good idea to start with a “dumbed-down” mobile device. A smartwatch or a phone that can only send texts or make calls is a good product to test with your child. Develop rules and monitor your child to see how they follow them before you give them a smartphone with greater capabilities.
Use parental controls
When you get your child a smartphone, there are some settings you can use to help them stay safe. If you choose an iPhone, there are many tools you can enable and disable, depending on what kind of access you want them to have. If you want to use these safety features, you can find them in the Settings app, under a menu called Restrictions.
Android phones do not have built-in parental controls. However, the Google Play store has many apps to choose from that let you add the restrictions you want. One app, called Qustodio, allows parents to turn off their child’s phone remotely, monitor text messages, and disable apps at different times of day.
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