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What age should you give your Child have a Mobile Phone?
Mobile phones are a trend nowadays, and as a parent, it can be really confusing to figure out the right time to give your child these devices.
It’s even more confusing when you learn that mobile phones for kids have a good and bad side.
The good: They can play mobile games to boost their skills and train their brains, interact with their friends on social media, or simply reach out to you when the need arises.
The bad: It can be unsafe if they’re accessing stuff beyond their scope or wasting time that’s meant for something fruitful.
So what is that perfect time that you can be confident that your kids will use a mobile phone the right way? At what age should a kid get a mobile phone? Let’s find out in this post.
Advice from Industry Leaders…
Kicking off with Bill Gates, he only gave his children mobile phones when they turned 14, quite atypical considering that kids in the UK get a go-ahead to use mobile phones even when they’re below 5.
According to a recent report by Ofcom, 1% of children under age 5 use smartphones. The same report also indicates that the percentage rises to 5% for kids between age 5 to 7, 35% for children aged 8 to 11, and as high as 83% for those ages 12-15.
In general, the average age for kids to be given phones is 10 years.
Obviously, no hard and fixed rule dictates when to give your child a smartphone, so exploring some considerations could help us puzzle this out.
Should you Consider Age or Maturity?
To make a sound decision, you need to keep the age factor aside and consider whether your children are mature and responsible enough to have mobile phones.
Here are some indicators that your kids are mature enough to own mobile phones:
- They are not losing their personal belongings every now and then
- They keep time when you go to pick them up
- They follow their screen and bedtime schedules
- They get home on time when you allow them to go out.
- They do their homework on time, even without supervision
- They can easily understand mature safety
If you confirm these little indicators, then giving them the phones would be the only fair thing to do. If otherwise, you should at least give them some time to see if they can build upon these personal responsibilities.
Why exactly does your Child Need a Mobile Phone?
Do you really know why your kid wants a mobile phone? Is it for playing mobile games to win brownie points, socialising, or for safety reasons?
The ‘want’ should help you make a sound decision.
If your children just want to enjoy video games, a tablet would work better for them. It comes with a larger viewing screen that’ll improve their gaming experience.
The good thing with tablets is that they mostly rely on Wi-Fi, so you can use the parental controls built into the tablet to monitor and control what they do on the internet.
If you think a mobile phone is paramount just for your kids to reach out to you, especially for safety purposes, then it would only make sense to allow them to own one.
Do they need a Smartphone or Mobile Phone?
As a parent in the UK, you’ll most likely feel the need to give your child a phone when they start walking themselves to and from school. Typically, this is when they’re aged 7-8.
At this age, your kids are still pretty young for a fully-featured smartphone.
A good trick is to get them started with a mobile phone just for emergencies. Sure, it’ll not offer all the benefits of a smartphone, but it’ll be safer to use it for the moment.
Basic phones come with some unique benefits, such as superior battery life. They can go up to a week without calling for a charge. On the other hand, a smartphone will barely clock a day, especially when it’s on for some serious gaming.
It Calls for your Responsibility as a Parent
The decision of when to give your child a mobile phone relies on how well you’re willing to monitor them.
First, you should start by evaluating and determining your children’s character to know what will work for them. It’s worth noting that children are different, and you may even observe this if you have more than one kid.
The best decision should always be based on what you think is best for your kids.
If you think it’s time for your kids to explore the smartphone world, go ahead and give them the smartphones. But and this is a big BUT, do it only if you’re willing to take responsibility for their safety.
What do I mean by maintaining responsibility for your kids’ safety? I imply that you do these two things:
- Make your children understand the risks of irresponsible smartphone use.
- Ensure they’re aware of what internet safety is in general.
While it’s okay to let your kids use smartphones, you should control most of what they do on the screens and how they use the devices in general. For example, it would help if you limited their use of smartphones during bedtime to help maintain healthy sleep cycles.
In a nutshell, how you teach your children to use their mobile phones will be carried on to when they’re adults. So, you better teach them the correct phone habits.