Times may have changed, but parenting has pretty much stayed the same — except for a few fundamental additions, which include setting and maintaining sensible boundaries around smartphones. Though seemingly harmless, this is one subject that you can’t flippantly push aside.
A 2016 study found that Americans spend at least 5 hours per day on their smartphones and that number keeps increasing year after year. The dangers don’t promote confidence either since horror stories of children being cyberbullied abound.
As a parent, it is your duty to say when your child should be exposed to a smartphone unattended. Given that his or her brain has just started developing and that their safety may be put at risk, it’s time to put some serious consideration into when to give your child a smartphone. Here are a few key pieces of advice to keep in mind as you weigh your decision.
There is no "right" age for a child to own a smartphone.
However, if you want a succinct answer, the consensus is 13 years old since that is usually the age when they are old enough to understand that “rules are rules” and that breaking them necessitates some sort of punishment.
Your child must get behind a few ground rules and social precepts.
These include understanding the value of face-to-face communication, exercising restraint when it comes to not going beyond the permitted screen or talking time and data allowance, and knowing the importance of keeping their smartphones in one piece while in their care.
There is a need for you to constantly check on your child’s wellbeing.
If safety is a concern – whether it’s because they commute alone to and from school, or if they have some sort of health issue – it is completely understandable and even necessary that you get your child a smartphone so you can monitor them whenever you need to, or they can call you in case of an emergency.
Your child must already have a good sense of empathy and accountability.
If you can trust your child to not text during class, not embarrass or harass others using texts, photos, or videos, and not disturb others with their conversations, their chances of getting their first smartphone are already looking good.
We hope these tips help you in making a decision. Just remember that there is no magic formula when it comes to solving this dilemma since no two kids are the same. A child's age is not as important as his or her own maturity level and sense of responsibility. As a parent, you can only hope for the best.