Is Your Child Ready for a Phone?

Child with phone

Some parents let their children have cell phones when they are quite young. Other parents prefer to wait until middle school or high school, when there may be more reasons to justify phone ownership. There are many considerations that could help you decide if the time is right to honor your child’s inevitable request. Here are a few points to consider.

A Child Who Follows Your Rules May be Ready

Cell phone readiness has much more to do with a child’s maturity level than their chronological age. A child who takes care of their belongings, abides by your rules and is generally responsible may be ready for cell phone ownership at a younger age than a less accountable sibling. If you trust your child to keep the phone off during their classes, and not let phone communications interfere with their obligations and responsibilities, you may have your answer.

A Child Willing to Answer Your Questions May be Mature Enough

Some kids want a phone for the entertainment value, so they can play games or watch videos on the commute back and forth to school. There are others who want a phone because their friends have social media accounts, and your child is feeling left out of the fun.

Knowing why your child wants a phone can help you decide if they should have one. Their reasoning may also help you determine what type of phone would suit their purposes if you decide to honor their request. Their answers may even guide you to the restrictions you may want to put on their cell phone usage.

A Child is Willing to Abide by Your Limitations Has Good Intentions

Your child may want a phone of their own, so they do not feel cut off from their circle of friends. Some parents decide to offer a simple phone, a phone that makes calls and sends messages initially, upgrading to a smartphone when their child has shown responsibility with their cell phone usage. Before making your decision, you may want to discuss some of the following points with your child:

  • When and where cellphone usage is inappropriate
  • What to do if they get an inappropriate call, message or text
  • The types of activities that you are willing to allow on a phone
  • Your expectations in regards to parental monitoring
  • Any limitations you would impose, such as no phone till after homework
  • The importance of keeping personal information off of social media
  • Inappropriate messaging and cyberbullying

Phone Ownership Would Provide a Mutual Safety Net

As children get older, they become more social and more involved. Many parents prefer that their children carry a phone as soon as they become involved in after-school activities. It may be beneficial to both of you for your child to have a phone of their own. Some mutually beneficial reasons for children to own cell phones include:

  • Spending time with friends away from your home
  • Traveling between family members homes frequently
  • Involvement in after-school activities
  • Involvement in after-school activities
  • Frequent use of public transportation
  • Typically waits for rides home after school

When children and their parents have a busy lifestyle, communication is essential. Children involved in extracurricular activities can use their phones to inform their parents if rehearsals run late or practices are canceled. Parents can let waiting children know if they are stuck in traffic or running behind schedule because of a delayed in a meeting, doctor appointment or rolfing session.

You may be surprised to learn that, as of 2016, the average ten-year-old already has their first phone. While that may seem young to some parents, many parents get their kids their first phone for parental convenience and safety concerns. Many parents want to be able to communicate and check up on their children when they are away from home, but only you can decide if a cell phone is right for your child.