In today’s modern age children are being bombarded with technology at a younger and younger age. Kids as young as six are already asking for a cell phone, as they watch their parents and older siblings use their own mobile devices. Today many children are getting their first cell phone by the age of twelve and some even younger. While sometimes a parent’s natural instinct is to say “no”, there are also safety benefits to giving your child a cell phone.
The right time to get a cell phone for a child is dependent on many factors, including the maturity level of your child and your family situation. As your child spends more time unsupervised in town with friends you may be swayed considering the safety benefits a cell phone offers. The security to a parent of being able to reach their young child at any time, and conversely of your child being able to call for help in a dangerous situation is invaluable, and has led to cell phones being purchased at a younger and younger age.
Additionally, there is a certain level of social pressure on children to have the same technology their friends do. Your ten year old will start begging for a cell phone as soon as their friends get one. This certainly does not mean they should automatically be given this type of privilege. Instead you need to determine whether your child is responsible enough for the level of maturity that goes with owning a cell phone.
In general most children are ready for their own cell phone between the ages of eleven to fourteen. This is the age when children typically begin traveling alone, and may need to coordinate frequently with a parent regarding their location and pick-up schedule.
Keep in mind that in purchasing a cell phone you may want to restrict the phone’s capabilities. Purchasing a smartphone, or one with a camera can bring its own level of parenting challenges and concerns. At such a young age, a parent should be leery of giving their child untethered, unsupervised access to the web, that may otherwise not be allowed at home.
Kids today are using their cell phones primarily for communicating with their friends, through text message and social networking sites. For younger children, consider purchasing a more inexpensive prepaid phone that comes without a contract. You can then load minutes onto your child’s phone. This will ensure that the technology is being used wisely and appropriately.
If you do opt to purchase your child a smartphone, be sure to set parental controls and restrictions. A parental monitoring service like TxtWatcher can be extremely useful in ensuring that your child is using their cell phone in a way that keeps them safe and responsible.
Cell phones can offer some great benefits to both parent and child, but it is important that you teach your child to use this technology properly.