What Is The Right Age for Your Kids to Have Cell Phones?
Do you ever wish you had a live-in IT professional?
Parenting today is vastly different from when we were kids. Technological advances from video game consoles to personal handheld devices have made it hard… no, impossible to keep up!
One of the biggest challenges with our children today, I believe, are smartphones. It seems like every kid has one. And for sure they all want one.
But when is it appropriate to let them have one?
You are not alone.
I love Google and as a parent coach, I like to find out what parents are thinking. I discovered that there are over 65 million search results to “When should I buy my kid a phone?” That means almost all of us are in the same boat. We want to understand how to navigate the Digital Age.
Parenting help in the form of the experts vary from the general: Common Sense Media says “The right age to give kids their first cell phone is really up to parents. Age isn't as important a child's maturity level, ability to follow home (and their schools') rules, and their sense of responsibility.”
To the specific: PBS Kids says “At younger ages (until 11 or 12) it should be just to contact you or for emergencies, but at the age of around 11 -13, they should be allowed to talk and text with their friends.
Most parents don't care, but kids feel left out if they are the only one of their friends without a phone.”
What if they text strangers?
Effective parenting includes doing what we can to keep our kids safe without being helicopter parents. So how can we keep kids safe with their phones? If they have a smartphone, how can parents protect their children from inappropriate content on the web, YouTube, apps like Snapchat, and other anonymous social media apps?
Another common worry is the factor of distraction. What if your child is distracted by his phone while walking and doesn’t see a car coming toward him? Or worse, being distracted while he’s driving?
There’s also the concern that children with expensive smartphones are targets for robberies. As stolen smartphones can quickly be sold for cash, they are a favorite amongst thieves. It jeopardizes the safety of your children to own and carry around luxury items.
All of these issues and the pressure from kids and other parents that children today must have a phone for safety.
Which is safer? Smartphone with the risks or risk with no smartphone?
These are tough questions, and I think John Rosemond said it best…
Your child should have whatever phone he can afford.
If your child can afford $999 for an iPhone and the cost of insurance, fees, taxes, cell service, and data; then my guess is that he’s a pretty responsible kid and will probably be able to handle the awesome responsibilities of a smartphone.
If your child only needs access to a phone for emergencies or contacting friends/family, then Verizon has a $12.09 Gusto 3 Prepaid Cell Phone that is a great solution. Most tweens can afford that and the cards for prepaid minutes. As an added bonus, the minute cards make great gifts!
Today's parents are now forming groups like Wait Until 8th as a way to band together and feel comfortable making these decisions. Until you do, you might want to check out the cell phone contract I used in my own home with my own kids. Rules were broken, by the way. And because I used a contract, delivering effective consequences was so much easier!