With cell phones quickly becoming the norm in modern society, the issue of what age children should have their own cell phone has never been more hotly debated. Indeed, it has become quite common to see young toddlers, barely able to talk, play with their parents’ cell phones with ease. The ease with which children can learn to navigate this technology puts many adults to shame, but that same accessibility is also why parents should be very careful about giving their child a cell phone at too early an age. With that in mind, what do parents need to consider before giving their child a cell phone?
Do They Need One?
When considering whether it is appropriate for your child to have a cell phone, the first question you should always ask is whether they need a cell phone. Some children are more independent than others, and with parents working long hours, it can be prudent for your child to be able to contact you at a moment’s notice. If your child needs access to a cell phone for safety reasons, then you should not hesitate to put something in place.
Are They Responsible?
It can be very difficult to be objective about your own children, but when it comes to owning a cell phone, parents have to try. Some children are far more responsible than others from a young age and can be trusted with a cell phone. A cell phone presents risks and dangers to children including accessing inappropriate content online or talking to people that they shouldn’t be. At a basic level, cell phones are just huge distractions – something that is not limited to children. Your child must be responsible enough to use their cell phone only when required.
If your child could do with a cell phone so that you can stay in contact with them, and they have demonstrated that they can be responsible with one, then it may be appropriate to introduce a basic cell phone at a reasonably young age (10 – 11). However, for most children, this is simply not necessary. Most 10-year-old children have no need for a cell phone, and just because their friends might have a cell phone does not mean that you should cave and buy one for them. The teenage years are generally accepted as an appropriate age to introduce cell phones, but even then, caution should be taken. If your child shows any kind of irresponsibility or is spending too much time on their cell, do not be afraid to take it away. Ultimately, different circumstances will dictate at what age your child needs a cell phone, but always ask yourself the questions; do they need one, and are they responsible?