Should children have mobile phones? It’s the question every modern parent eventually asks. However, for practical purposes, when it comes to kids and cell phones, there are actually several questions to ask yourself first:
Why should children have phones?
Do I need an emergency phone for children?
What other communication devices for kids might fit the bill?
Would smartphone alternatives be a better option?
You can then ask yourself follow-up questions, such as when should a child get a phone if they decide they need one.
As I often remind families as a futurist, father, and author of “Parenting High-Tech Kids,” there isn’t always a compelling reason to put a smartphone in a child’s hands. However, smart technology can open the door to all sorts of wonderful apps and games for kids, and a host of useful connections and ideas. It also means having to prepare children for the challenges that online connectivity and communications often present.
Considering a few specifics can help you determine why (or why not) your kids should have phones, and whether various smartphone alternatives present a better option.
When should children have mobile phones?
First of all: It’s important to note that there is no single, universally accepted age at which experts say kids should have cell phones. A good rule of thumb is 13 years old, and that presents a good general baseline to work from. However (and it’s a big however), of course, parents will have to make that decision for themselves, based on the child’s maturity and other factors.
Here are some important points to consider and questions to ask yourself when contemplating whether your children should have cell phones:
How mature and responsible are your children?
To what extent have you prepared them to react to questionable exchanges or controversial content they may encounter online?
Do you need a children’s communication device or a children’s emergency phone for practical reasons?
Is there a compelling purpose for putting a cell phone in your child’s hands right now, or would you be better off waiting a little longer?
It’s also important to remember: Before you bring any high-tech gadgets into your home, it’s critical establish rules and guidelines governing their use and what content is appropriate to consume and share. That means taking the time to specify with your kids how much screen time they’ll have access to on a daily basis:
Will screen time be earned or given?
When and where it is appropriate to use communication devices for children
Whether phones need to be turned off at certain times of the day, such as an hour before bedtime and during breakfast or dinner.
Additionally, you’ll want to make it clear that your door is always open as a parent if your kids come across questionable content or trades online. You will also want to make it clear what the consequences will be if your household rules are not followed and under what circumstances privileges will be reinstated.
Why should a child have a phone?
The answer depends on when you feel they are ready for it, or when there is a compelling reason to suggest that they really need such a device for safety or education purposes. From a practical standpoint, that usually means your kids start participating in activities and camps after school, when they need to communicate with you remotely while playing games at friends’ houses or when they’ll be out otherwise. from your house. direct supervision or accessibility, such as walking to class. Similarly, when considering whether children should have cell phones, you’ll want to consider adding a parental control app, such as smart Family, if they need online access to information, applications or websites to help them with their lessons, assignments and learning.
Keep in mind that introducing multiple child communication devices into your home also means having to commit to doing your homework as a parent, as these devices and apps and their respective capabilities are always changing. In addition, you’ll want to make sure you’re actively working with your kids to instill positive high-tech habits on a daily basis, like learning to put down devices while chatting with other family members or at a certain time each night. On the plus side, as I have observed in my own home, children and cell phones can often be a winning combination. This is because children have boundless curiosity, and as an always-on, always-ready gateway to a wealth of online information and activities, smartphones can expose them to a multitude of positive exchanges and experiences… as well as new knowledge, information and individuals.
That said, giving a child a cell phone effectively means exposing them to the wider virtual world at large. Just as you wouldn’t send them out to play in the neighborhood without teaching them about potential dangers to be aware of and instilling good safety habits, you’ll need to prepare them ahead of time before they play in the digital world. Remember: technology is just another tool for learning and communication, and like any tool, it’s important to know how to use it responsibly for a positive and uplifting experience.
What to get your child instead of a phone
Are you not ready for your children to have cell phones yet? That is perfectly understandable. Parents of younger children may want to consider the many smartphone alternatives for kids.
For example, a number of kid-friendly cell phones for kids are specifically designed to help you communicate with and monitor your child, while also setting limits on their online access and limiting unwanted communications. Many popular offerings offer extensive parental controls, or remove web browsers and app stores altogether, allowing you to control screen time, filter out age-inappropriate material, and ban access to unwanted apps or websites. Many devices also allow you to pre-program the contacts of friends and family on the phone and restrict communications to these people. In addition, several models use GPS and geo-tracking capabilities to allow you to track children’s movements and limit Internet access to pre-approved apps and services.
A variety of wearable smart watches, such as the contraptionWatch, it can also provide peace of mind by allowing young children to call, video chat or send text messages right from their wrist. Several kid-friendly handheld devices allow for homework lists and daily reminders, like “Don’t forget to meet Dad to pick him up after art class at 4pm!” at the tips of your fingers.
Of course, many families looking to pick up an emergency phone for kids may also consider equipping them with older flip phone models that lack extensive app and internet connectivity features or lack cameras and video conferencing capabilities. Or they can send children to school with devices whose connectivity is limited only to conversations and calls. Keep in mind that there are countless kid-friendly smartphone alternatives available, most of which: (a) feature helpful high-tech training wheels, or (b) allow you to implement parental controls that limit what kids can do, the extent to which they can connect and with whom they can communicate.
Answering the question of when a child should have a phone often becomes easier when you realize that you don’t have to dive into the deep end of telecommunications technology from the start. If you’re looking to help kids get their feet wet and comfortable with high-tech gadgets before escalating to more comprehensive systems, you can buy pocket-sized GPS trackers with tactile speakers and SOS help buttons that you can send to kids. to school as an alternative to smartphones or tablets.
So the good news is that you don’t have to worry too much. If you think your child is too young to have a cell phone, a variety of high-tech tools are ready to help you stay more connected with your children at all times.
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