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Should your child have a smartphone?



It depends on maturity, specific needs, and parental groundwork

Should your child have a smartphone


Parents worry their kids will spend too much time on their phones, and they also have concerns about cyberbullying, health, and exposure to nudity and violence. But there are many cases where parents feel their children will be safer if they have a cell phone, with the ability to call home whenever they need to. What is the age at which kids should be entrusted with a smartphone?

Tech website AllConnect.com presents the most popular theories that answer this question.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says it depends on various factors, but advises parents not to be in a hurry to give their kids smartphones. Consider the needs and values of your family before making the decision. Consider creating a Family Media Use Plan that covers such actions as setting a media curfew, deciding what your family feels is important tech-wise, explaining to kids how the Internet uses information, discussing possible scenarios they might encounter online.

Related: Protect your child's personal information when they are online 

Microsoft CEO Bill Gates gave a 2017 interview in which he said his kids didn't get phones until they were 14. His family sets limits on screen time and nighttime usage as well.

The nonprofit Common Sense Media advises that you make the decision based on how mature your child is, whether they can consistently follow rules, and whether they'll be in situations where they need a cell phone. However, the CEO said his own kids didn't get phones until high school, once they had learned “restraint and the value of face-to-face communication.”

The Harvard Graduate School of Education suggests not giving smartphones to kids until you've given them a thorough education in the implications of phone ownership. This background includes modeling wise phone usage yourself, not using texting excessively to maintain contact with your child, finding out how tech is used at school, and developing rules together

Since peer pressure is one of the major influences on kids' desire to have smartphones, Wait Until 8th was founded by parents to encourage families not to give their kids phones before eighth grade, or the age of 14. Groups of parents in a given geographical area sign a pledge to stick to this agreement.

And then there's compromise. If safety is an issue, with children needing ways to get in touch with parents and vice versa, one option is to buy your child a basic calling and texting plan, without access to data that would place them online. Some Internet providers offer plans designed for children, allowing parents to monitor contacts and usage, set limits to search options, and block specific kinds of sites.



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