What Age Should Kids Get a Phone?
One of the most pressing concerns in the mind of parents whose children are transitioning from single to double digits in their age is when to buy their child a smartphone. Well, this is a question that does not have a “one size fits all” answer. While your child having a cell phone is helpful to stay in touch with your ward, and handy in case of an emergency, there is also the danger of your child getting addicted to it at the cost of their grades, behavior, and social skills. Added to that, there are dangerous elements online where your child can be a victim of cyber bullying and stalking. But on the other hand, a smartphone is also a resource to access a lot of useful information that will help your child in school and in general. For starters, parents will need to judge for themselves if their child is responsible enough for a smartphone.
Is your child is prone to losing things or is generally forgetful?
If that is the case then it’s perhaps wise to wait until they stop the habit. You could buy him/her a cheaper cellphone instead of a smartphone and see how responsible your child is with it. Smartphones are expensive, and your child should be well aware of it. If you are going to buy your child a smartphone, ensure there will be consequences if broken or lost, and that there will be repayment too.
How careful is your child with money?
Does s/he always finish their pocket money every month on impulse purchases? This is crucial if you want to limit the budget of your child's data and calls. Choosing a prepaid connection can establish a monthly limit. If your child is careful with money, he may not splurge on buying more lives for a video game on an impulse. (Especially true if your credit card is linked to your child's app store account)
How good is your child with rules, at home and at school?
This will be essential in setting limits on usage and general screen time for the day. Before you hand it over to your child, ensure they are well aware of the rules and the consequences of not following them. These rules should include details like parents will know the passcodes to their phones.
Mobile phones will not be entertained at meals and family events. You should have a curfew time post which your child will hand over their phone to you and you can return it before they go to school the next day. Any unacceptable behavior online, like cyberbullying, stalking or sending of mean and abusive posts will mean revoking all cell phone privileges. That smartphones are not a replacement for important conversations is something you have to stress onto them.
A few more tips on buying your child a cell phone.
Do not take your child to the store to buy them a phone. They will believe they have some say in the matter and might nudge you into buying a phone and a plan that is over your budget.
Talk to the sales executive and find out all the parental controls that you can adjust on your kid's phone.
It is better to block location sharing, except for certain apps, as some apps can post location info without any human intervention.
Ensure your child doesn’t share any photo or posts to strangers. Have them lock their social media settings only to ‘friends’ and also have a similar setting on their Instagram and other social media.
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