Today, technology completely permeates our lives. Thanks to the Internet and technological devices, we can communicate, entertain ourselves, obtain information, study or work. children, digital natives, grew up in this environment where they sink and behave like a fish in water. However, this doesn’t mean they’re ready for the responsibilities and freedom that come with having a smart phone. Therefore, we want to offer you some guidelines that will help you determine if your child is ready for a cell phone.
In fact, children have had access to phones since they were very young, since their parents often lend them to them so that they can play on them. Growing up, they also often have laptops for school, iPad or some eBooks: therefore, they are already enjoying some of the benefits of technology. However, having your own laptop means seeing the world in your hands and that can be dangerous and counterproductive if you are not sufficiently prepared.
Some parameters to take into account to define if your child is ready to have a mobile phone
Here are some tips that can help you decide if it’s time to get your child a phone or if it’s worth the wait.
The appropriate age for a mobile phone
It is not easy to determine an appropriate age for a child to have their own smart phonebecause every child is different. We think that more than 60% of children between the ages of 10 and 15 have their own mobile phone ; and this, no doubt, puts pressure on parents who are not sure that the right time has come.
For them, it can be encouraging to know that top tech gurus have restricted the use of devices in their children until old age; in fact, Bill Gates didn’t allow his children to have smartphones until they were 14 years old. Thereby, it would be convenient to wait at least 12 years, although the decision depends on each family.
Beyond age, what really matters is the psychological maturity of the child. The proper use that is made of the Internet, social networks and mobile applications will depend on this. To determine if your child is mature enough, watch how he assumes and responds to the responsibilities he already has.
Does he finish his homework without having to be behind him? Does he collaborate at home? Does he adapt to the permissions and the hours of return home that you set for him? Can he tolerate frustration or does he throw a tantrum every time you say no to him? If he’s irresponsible and immature in these areas, giving him a cell phone might not be a good option.
Impulse control and sanity
Another important aspect to consider is your child’s ability to control their impulses. Some children are particularly distracted, impulsive and inattentive (even without ADHD), and have a smart phone can only make things worse. They may neglect their studies or social life because they are constantly on their phone and it can be addictive or cause multiple conflicts at home when parents try to take away their cell phone for a few hours.
Likewise, anxious children, with depressive tendencies or with low self-esteem are a population more at risk when it comes to having a cell phone. Indeed, technology and social media can trigger eating disorders, be a breeding ground for virtual bullying, or expose children to information that can affect their safety and mood.
So, before you give your child a phone of their own, make sure you address these issues; even with the help of a professional if you deem it necessary.
Keys to consider when deciding if your child is ready for a phone
If you’ve decided it’s time to take a step forward, here are some recommendations that can help you make the transition.
Discuss as a family and find a consensus
The decision to offer a mobile phone to a child cannot be taken lightly; for this reason it is important that them parents and children discuss pros and cons and choose the appropriate moment together. You can ask your child to prepare an essay or a presentation Power point on his reasons for having a phone, it will help him reflect while demonstrating maturity and commitment.
Start with the most basic options
If you’re still not comfortable with the idea of giving your child a smartphone, you can start with more basic options. For instance, download some consensus apps on his iPadhave a limited watch or smartphone: stuff without a browser or internet access.
In this way, you will be able to communicate with him and know where he is (thanks to the GPS function) but his access to networks will still be controlled. Likewise, it is a good opportunity for the young person to show themselves responsible, mature and thus be able to take an additional step in a few months.
Set limits and agreements
Giving your child a phone is not the end of the matter, but rather the beginning. From there, conflicts can arise if he makes excessive or inappropriate use of the laptop or does not follow your instructions. For this reason, it can be very positive to draw up a written contract. It will contain certain limits (agreed between parents and children) that the young person will have to respect once he has his phone.
For instance, you can specify the hours of daily use of the device and the need to put the laptop away at bedtime or during family meals. You can also determine that parental control systems will be used (which the child should not try to circumvent) or that parents can ask him to show them the contents of his phone at certain times.
Periodic review of the situation is key to this decision
Whether you decide to start with a more basic option or choose to give your child a laptop now, it’s important to periodically review the situation. If your child demonstrates responsibility and good use of devices, they can earn more privileges and the rules of the contract you drafted may be relaxed.
In contrast, if he neglects his studies because he is on his motive, if he becomes obsessed or if his mood is affected, do not be afraid to back off. Maybe you were too quick and it wasn’t time yet: it’s okay to commandeer the phone and talk about it later. The child’s safety and mental health are always a priority.