At what age should children start using smartphones?
An important aspect of parenting is setting the parameters on technology use. Though it has made our lives comfortable and more convenient, technology can be a double-edged sword. One primary concern parents face is when to give their child a smartphone.
The decision to let your kids start using mobile phones should not be taken lightly. Based on recent statistics generated by Flurry, an American-based analytics firm, most people spend 5 hours a day on their smartphones. A similar study shows that mobile applications have an impressive growth rate of 69% year over year.
Effects of Mobile Devices
Given the fact that smartphone use can take up a great chunk of our day-to-day, parents must seriously consider when to introduce this technology to their children. If given too early or without careful guidance, mobile devices may affect a child’s behaviour negatively.
Children who spend too much time on their phone might miss out on crucial development milestones. There is also that danger of coming across websites detrimental to their growth.
New studies reveal that children receive their first mobile phone at approximately 10 years old. At the age of 12, 50% of children in a given population already have Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts.
Microsoft founder and business magnate Bill Gates begs to disagree, however. Two of his kids are teenagers and the eldest is in her early 20s. All of them owned their first phone only after entering high school.
Maturity Level and Sense of Responsibility
Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer says “there’s no magic number” to when kids should own a phone. Different kids have different maturity levels. Sense of responsibility can also be acquired at any age.
Steyer adds that his kids need to be in high school to own a phone. Prior to getting a phone, they must first learn to value face-to-face communication and demonstrate their capacity to exercise restraint.
But how do you evaluate your child’s maturity level and sense of responsibility? Below are practical questions parents need to ask themselves before letting their children use a mobile device:
- Will a smartphone be helpful in case of emergencies?
- Is a phone necessary to your children’s social growth?
- How well do they understand complex concepts such as phone usage limits or rules?
- Can you trust them not to use their phone in class or as a tool to harm others?
After arriving at an informed decision and deciding to give your children a phone, it is best to check on their activities once in a while. See what games they play or sites they visit. Limit their screen time. Let them know about your rules.
For instance, ban mobile devices on your dinner table or during family gatherings. Be an example to your kids. Abide by your own rules where applicable.
You might also want to configure parental controls on your children’s smartphone. Android, Apple and Windows allow you to set time limits and manage game and app downloads.
The configuration process is easy. Just read the phone manual and follow the instructions carefully. Mobile parental controls will help you regulate your kids’ cellphone activities more effectively.
Henry Rowell is a content marketer and an occasional tech enthusiast. He writes on behalf of Anny’s, jewellers and master craftsmen of engagement rings Australia. He likes to read on his spare time.