In this day and age, it seems like almost everyone has a phone. But should you give your child one? There are pros and cons to consider before making a decision. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the key factors to think about when deciding if a phone is right for your child.
I get butterflies in my stomach every time my kids ask: “Can I have a phone (or any other gadget they want)? Everyone else has one.” First, because it makes me doubt my decision not to give them one. Second, because it makes me think, “Am I being mean? All the other parents allowed their kids to have one, yet I didn’t. I must be too harsh.”
Parents can argue valid reasons for giving their child a phone, such as making it easier to communicate with their friends during lockdown; it makes the school pick up more manageable; we can call each other if plans change or unpredictable things arise. While there are advantages to a child having a phone, these need to be weighed against the disadvantages.
6 Things to Consider Before Deciding if You Should Your Child a Phone
Real social connections. Research shows that kids who have a phone spend less time socially interacting face to face with friends and family.
Distraction. Mobile phones can be a distraction to kids. It can make focusing on important tasks such as homework more difficult. I can also make crossing roads and driveways a potential danger if they are walking while looking at their devices.
Internet access. A mobile phone provides your child with another means to communicate with the outside world that you will have little supervision over. Most phones provide access to the Internet, as well as many apps that are more difficult to filter and control than your home computer. A phone also gives the outside world a way to communicate with your child. Messaging, gaming and social media apps provide a platform for anonymous communication with your child.
Self-esteem. Early access to social media can harm your child’s self-esteem. To put it into perspective, think about how many times you have been exposed to posts on social media that made you doubt yourself? It can be difficult for adults to healthily navigate social media. Imagine how hard it is for a child. A recent British study shows that children aged between 9 and 12 are particularly vulnerable, with more time spent on social media associated with more emotional and behavioural problems in later adolescence.
In answer to the question “What is the right age to give a child a phone?” I recommend to delay as much as possible. I hear many parents regretting giving their children devices early, yet have never heard a parent regret delaying access.
Consider your child’s readiness. Kid’s maturity varies between individuals of the same age. Self-esteem also plays a role in being able to handle the media they are exposed to. A child with low self-esteem is more vulnerable to social media influence.
Set the boundaries and trust your decision. It is easier to deal with your child’s feelings of missing out for not having a phone than it is to repair the harm of being exposed to inappropriate content.
You can use the Superpower Kids Why You Are Special printable to help build your child’s Self-esteem.