When is it Appropriate to Give Your Children their Own Smartphone?

We all love smartphones. They have single-handedly changed the lives of every single one of us. We use them as a means of communication, a way to access the Internet and many other functions. However, when it comes to buying a smartphone for children, people have varying opinions. Most parents say that a child should be given their first smartphone when they are around the age of 12 to 14 years. Some parents however argue that kids can have smartphones when they are much younger.

So, when is it appropriate to give your children their own smartphones?

This question is has no particular answer. However, parents can use the following questions as a guide to help them make the right decision.

1. Is the smartphone really necessary?

Before buying a smartphone for your child, you should assess whether it is really necessary. Does your child need it for social reasons or for security reasons? If it is for social reasons, you can always discuss the options that are available other than buying a smartphone. Have a decent discussion about this topic with your kids and come up with an amicable solution. As for security, most parents just need to hear a status update from their kids from time to time. For instance, if your child’s school is a little bit far from home, you might consider a means of communication. For times like these, a smartphone might be used since it will enable you to communicate with your child and you can also track their whereabouts using GPS. Most parents who work late usually require some form of communication with their kids to put their minds at ease and a simple cellphone does the trick just fine.

2. Is your child mature enough to handle a smart phone?

A smartphone comes with a lot of responsibilities. You should talk to your children about how they are supposed to use their phones. Explain to them about the use of data bundles, calling minutes and how to handle their phone with care. Remember that you are the one paying the bills and if they use their smartphone excessively, you will be the one to pay. You would also not be so happy if they lose their phone one week after buying it. Keep in mind that children can easily “lose” their phones or trade them like currency and tell you they lost it.

3. Do your children actually need a smartphone?

Your children might not actually need a smartphone. Instead, they might want a device to store and play music, play games, a portable movie or camera device or a simple chatting device. There are many devices that offer these services and much more. Your child might be satisfied with that instead of overwhelming them with the numerous functions of a smartphone.

4. Can your children be reliable?

Smartphones come with all sorts of distractions. The main question is whether your kids can know how to use their phones appropriately and at the right times. How likely is it that they will use video, text and photo functions responsibly without harassing or embarrassing others? What are the school’s rules on smartphone usage? A good place to start when answering these questions is to put yourself in your child’s shoes. Your children will likely mimic your behaviors and it is helpful as parents to point out why we don’t use our phones at certain times and are always available to family. It is therefore advisable to work on proper smartphone ethics as a parent so that your children can learn from your good example.

5. Are you prepared to cater for the additional expenses?

If you own a smartphone, then you know that you have to pay for data plans. Most mobile providers have some kind of billing system that makes you pay attention. With this in mind, any extra smartphone is an added expense including the one you buy for your child. If your child is a responsible one, they might not exceed the stipulated package you have paid for. Keep in mind that buying a decent smartphone also costs a lot of money. If you are ready to cater for these additional costs, go right ahead!

Hopefully, once you ask yourself these questions, you will be able to make the best decision on when it is appropriate to provide your children their own smartphones. Being open and honest with our children from the start when providing them with smartphones, tablets and Internet access of their own helps them understand that they must be accountable for the activities that they use their devices for.

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