Technology is easily a blessing and a curse in almost equal measures. Before giving your child their own cell phone, here are some things to consider.
Do they really need it?
It seems like parents are buying cell phones for their kids at younger and younger ages. It’s also reasonably safe to say that payphones are gone for good, and cell phones are here to stay. The argument that children need a way to contact their parents in case of an emergency is a valid one; however, kids don’t really need a smartphone to make simple calls. If the only reason you want your child to have a phone is to ensure they can call you, then look online for simple phones without the extra features. Some companies even make phones that only have buttons to make calls.
Do they understand how to use it responsibly?
Because cell phones are so prevalent, it can be hard for children to see them as expensive pieces of equipment and instead regard them as great toys. If you do opt for a standard smartphone for your child, you should discuss with them how to use it responsibly whether it’s setting proper time limits on usage or restricting specific services like social media.
Are you tech savvy?
You don’t have to be a tech wiz, but it is important that you have some basic understanding of what a smartphone can be used for. Do you know how to find the photo album on your child’s cell phone or how to find the call log? You may never need to look at these things, but it is essential that your child is aware they cannot hide anything from you.
Is your child responsible?
Possibly one of the most important things to take into consideration is whether or not your child is responsible enough not to lose their cell phone. They should also be diligent to ensure the phone is always charged up. If you want to give your child a smartphone, you may want to start with a simple and cheap phone to see how well they keep up with it first.
Are they ready emotionally?
Separating the real world from what happens on our phones can be difficult for children. People are not usually honest online and children especially can be very mean to each other. You should be aware that with access to the internet via phone or any other source, your child can be susceptible to bullying. If your child does not handle these social interactions well at this time, you may want to take that into consideration when deciding on giving them a phone.
Are you a good role model?
You can have a million conversations with your child on the proper way to use a cell phone, but if you don’t practice what you preach it is likely those conversations will go in one ear and out the other. Make sure that you set a good example for your child on the right ways of cell phone use.
If you answered yes to all of those questions, then your child may be ready for a cell phone. Just remember that it’s a big responsibility and requires monitoring from parents. And even if you answered yes to these questions and feel like having a cell phone is not right for your child, don’t let the world pressure you into giving them one. Only you know what is best for your child, and a cell phone is not an essential part of life for any child.