Is It Time to Let Your Child Have Their Own Phone?

What Age Should Kid Get Phone?


If your child doesn’t already have their own phone, and they’re at an age when their friends are getting smart phones, no doubt, you'll face endless nagging conversations in the days up to their birthday and the holidays. The peer pressure for kids to get a cellphone is high, and if your child doesn’t have a phone, they may worry about being excluded from their groups or missing out on events (#fomo.) So, is it time to bite the bullet and get your kid the phone they’ve been wanting? It depends, right?

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Average Age
We face this in our family. On the one hand, I don't want to buy an expensive phone that's going to get lost or misplaced. But on the other hand, it would make life easier with after school clubs and activities. Children mature at different rates, each parent has to make their own decisions based on their own child. However, many parents want to know whether their child is ‘too young’ to get a cellphone, or whether they’re being cruel by holding out on this big purchase. According to recent studies, the average age to get a first cellphone is 10.3 years old, which means, by the time kids hit middle school, many of their friends will already have phones. 

Following Rules
Most parenting experts agree, it’s not the age of the child that matters, but more the maturity level and the ability to follow rules around smartphone usage. Before you put the device into your child's hands, you need to set ground rules. Set daily phone usage limits, how much time kids can spend, whether they can take the phone to school, etc.

Did you know, many cellphones have apps that help you keep track of your child’s screen time and ensure they’re not visiting inappropriate websites, but when you give your child a phone, you should be able to trust that they aren't using the phone in a way that will put them in danger. You can use "Google Find My Phone" to keep track of the phone's whereabouts, this can be very helpful when your teen is supposed to be home.

Protecting the Device
Cost is also a big factor when it comes to deciding to buy a cellphone for your child. Unless they’re already at an age where they have a part-time job, it’s another monthly bill for you to cover. You’ll need to ensure you have insurance in case the phone is lost or stolen. It’s worth looking for BodyGuardz iPhone 7 Plus cases too, just in case of any drops or knocks, so you aren’t stuck with a big phone repair bill. 

Ensuring Screen-free Time
One problem with giving children cellphones is that it’s harder to enforce screen-free times if they have their own device. If your kids go to the park with friends or hang out in their room, they’ll likely be glued to their phone.
When it comes to homework, studies have shown that simply having a phone in the room ruins a child's concentration, so you may need to watch out for slipping grades too. Consider enforcing cellphone usage times, say between 8 am and 10 pm, so your kids aren’t up all night surfing the internet or watching YouTube. When it’s time to do homework or sit down for dinner, place all phones in a basket out of sight, so there’s no temptation to fiddle with the phone and ruin family time.

Getting your first cellphone is a rite of passage in the digital age, but as a parent, it’s up to you to decide when the time is right for your child, and whether they can understand the responsibilities that come with this pricey gift. 
No matter what you decide, you'll have to deal with teen angst that will surely stress you out. We're right there with you. Got questions? Leave a comment and we'll try to help!


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Lora is a homeschooling mom, writer, creator of Kids Creative Chaos, and Director of the Play Connection.

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