I remember hearing:
“I Can't Believe Parents are Buying Phones for Kids So Young!”
when we decided to get our oldest his first phone around 13.
It was a cheap, non-smartphone, but did what we needed it to, call. Which was why we bought it for him. Fast forward a couple years and we got him a smartphone and same with our youngest, which was about 10/11 at the time. I know I know, even younger than our oldest, however he was starting to hang out with friends outside of school A LOT more.
Now both of our boys are older and they have smartphones and sometimes I wish we didn't get them for them as they are glued to them non-stop. However, I also love the security I have with them having the phones.
Kids love cell phones.
They’re exposed to them at an even younger age these days, which means they’ll soon grow up wanting one of their own. There are many reasons why kids could benefit from having a cell phone, but there are also plenty of reasons why they shouldn’t. Don't let anyone tell you when you should or shouldn't think of buying phones for your kids. Just like everything else with raising your child, the decision is yours. I've had to remind family members several times about that. My kids, my decision.
Can you afford it?
Cell phones are expensive. They can be more expensive than a computer or even a vacation, especially if you go the top of the range smartphone like an Apple iPhone Xr or Samsung Galaxy S10. It’s not something that all parents can afford, so if it’s not in your budget right now, perhaps you can talk to your child about purchasing their own phone with an allowance.
You can take a look at the best cheap phones to give you a range of options for your kid, or you could try other things like buying phones that are refurbished or giving them your old one. Don’t let buying your kid a phone leave you struggling, it simply isn’t worth it. Trust me. If your kid is anything like our oldest, they will go through several. Refurbished or an older phone is DEFINITELY the way to go!
Are they responsible?
Having a phone can give your child more independence, but are they responsible enough for it? Your child needs to be able to show that they can look after a valuable item, as well as use it safely. If your child doesn’t have much responsibility at the moment, it might be worth giving them some chores and tasks to do that can help them work their way towards getting a phone.
If you’re unsure about leaving your child at home alone, for example, then something of equal or more responsibility like getting a phone might also give you a cause for concern. When we first let our boys stay home by themselves, we had a house phone still, made sure they knew our phone numbers (put them on a sheet on the fridge) & any emergency phone numbers. Now that they have smartphones. I made sure that all important phone numbers were entered and linked to their accounts, so if they swapped phones, the numbers stay linked and won't get lost.
We also use an app called Life360. It shows you where your family is, when they leave, arrive, battery is low, and more. There is also an alert if help is needed for your family member. I strongly suggest this app to EVERYONE who has kids, or has family members who travel/work away from home. ( You can download the app both on Apple & Android)
Do they know enough about online safety?
A phone is a simple way to get online, where kids can be exposed to many dangers. To be able to give them a phone, you need to feel confident that your kid knows enough about online safety. From not revealing their personal information to talking to strangers, you need to have these discussions with your child.
You can use Family Orbit software to give you further peace of mind when your child is online, helping you feel better about them having a phone. Be open and honest about online safety issues to give your kid as much information as possible.
When it comes to deciding whether or not your child is ready for a phone, you’ll need to consider several things. But each child is different, so there’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer. Talk to your child and work towards a compromise that you both feel happy with. Even if the discussion is a no for now, let them know that it is something you’re willing to consider in the future.