The New York Times did an extensive article covering the question whether there is a right age for a parent to buy their child a smartphone. The article takes into account a number of factors to answer a question that parents across the US are asking themselves.
We’re going to discuss the different arguments presented in order to help parents decide for themselves what the right age to buy their children smartphones may be.
The Arguments Against
Even though children as young as three years of age have phone and tablet access, purchasing your child a personal smartphone is kind of another ballgame. Buying your child a Smartphone in a sense would mean unlimited phone access as well as access to other smartphone features such as online gaming and social media.
Skills and Development
Many experts feel that prematurely equipping your children with digital devices, smart phones in particular is a bad idea. This is for a number of reasons. One; they feel that more time spent on the smartphone or device means less time spent nurturing practical skills as well as healthy interests and hobbies. Experts also argue that excessive smartphone use hampers child development particularly in the areas of attention span and concentration.
Access and Safety
Furthermore, a Smartphone exposes children to all manner of online material. A lot of this may be unhealthy, inappropriate or downright detrimental. Further, smartphones may give children access to groups and individuals that can be classed as dangerous or unsavory. In other words, children may be bullied, harassed or influenced negatively.
Future Psychological Issues
Last but not least, there is some correlation between early and excessive Smartphone use and the affinity to suffer from problems like screen or internet gaming addiction later in life.
The Arguments For
On the flipside, we live in a world that is getting more and more digitized by the minute. People belonging to Generation X and those that came before will tell you how troublesome not knowing how to navigate tech can be.
Getting your child a smartphone allows them to get their heads around technology as well as the internet.
Regulated and supervised access allows your children to learn and master an important medium as well as access the information and facilities it offers. In an age where many children are equipped with digital devices, it sometimes makes no sense to deprive your own children of the same.
So What Can Parents Do?
As you can see, it is not so much the absence or presence of a smartphone in your child’s life, rather how you regulate, moderate and monitor use of the same. Apart from the general rule of thumb which is that you should wait till your child crosses preschool before getting them a smartphone, here are some other pointers:
Educate your Children First
Don’t just hand you children a smartphones off the bat. Educate them with regard to Smartphone use and teach them what is safe and what isn’t.
Don’t Allow Excess
Remember the problem was excessive use not use per say. Keeping this in mind, even if you are getting your child a smartphone, it helps to curb excessive use. A good way to do this is to allot times and situations where phone use is allowed and others where it isn’t.
Set up no phone zones or no phone time slots to make sure that your children diversify, develop in a balanced way and do not become entirely phone centered!
When it comes to young children, you really want to take extra care that they are not exposed to the wrong kind of material or the wrong kind of people. One of the ways you can do this is to monitor their Smartphone use.
Asking your child to let you go through their phone every now and then can be impractical and may also lead the child to believe you don’t trust them. This is unhealthy. A better way to go about things is to look into phone monitoring apps and software that can help you monitor your child’s phone use remotely.
Tracking software is available for both iPhone and Android operating systems and is extremely easy to use. Activation involves simply feeding in the number of the phone you wish to monitor and following updates which will be sent to a panel on your computer.
This way, you have minute to minute access to your children’s phone activity which includes messages, calls, social media and online actions and interactions. At the same time, the discreet nature of the software ensures that you do not disturb your children unless the situation absolutely requires it!
Use Your Discretion
Remember, all children are different and though this blog elaborates on some solid pointers and arguments, the final decision of when to buy your child a smartphone is yours. You know your child best. Figure out if they are mature enough, if they have the discipline and if Smartphone use is medically safe for them.
Other than this, keep in mind the pointers above and do what you feel is best. As long as you are involved and in the know as a parent, you and your child should be okay!