Most kids can’t wait to get their own cell phone but at what age is it appropriate for kids to get their own mobile device?
Getting kids a cell phone is a personal decision. Each parent will decide when their child is ready for the responsibility. There is no set age that is best but according the Pew Research Center most parents think it’s acceptable for kids to have a phone between the ages of 12 and 14 (about 45%). 28% of parents think children should get a cell phone between the ages of 15-18, and 16% of parents thing a suitable age is between 9-11 years old.
It can difficult for parents who wish to wait until their child is older to give them a cell phone. Regardless of your child’s age there are some important factors to consider before giving them a device with so much access to communication and media.
How Responsible is Your Child?
If your child constantly loses things, they may not be ready to have full access to a cell phone. Some good alternatives to their own cell phone is a family phone they can use at home or if they go somewhere without a parent or a Smart Watch that is attached to their person. What will happen if they lose or break the cell phone?
Why Does Your Child Need/Want a Cell Phone?
Does your child want to text their friends or play games? Does your child participate in after school activities or sports where they may need to contact you? Knowing why your child wants or needs a cell phone will help you set limits and expectations.
How Much Control Will They Have Over the Device?
Will you establish rules for when and what kind of cell phone access your child will have? Will they have to ask permission to download apps? Will you set screen time limits or down time? Will you use apps that monitor their internet use? If you do plan to incorporate limits and rules to cell phone usage it’s important to clearly communicate those details with your child so they know what to expect.
Does Your Child Know Internet Safety?
Does your child know the dangers of online spaces like social media, video game chats, and internet browsers? Help your child know what is appropriate content, communication and how to address anything they don’t feel comfortable with.
Does Your Child Understand Cell Phone Etiquette?
When and where is cell phone use acceptable? Should phones be put away at school during teacher instruction? Are phones allowed when visiting with family or at the dinner table? Do your kids know to not take photos of strangers without their permission or to not take photos in public bathrooms? It’s important to have these discussions before they have a cell phone to prevent future conflicts and so they know what is to be expected of them.
While there is no set age as to when you should get your child a phone it’s important that you and your child understand the responsibilities that come with a phone. As a parent it’s comforting to know that there are parental safety controls and apps that monitor your child’s internet access. Even with all the apps and safety setting it’s still important to discuss topics like internet safety, cyber bullying, and cell phone use rules for your family.