It is a question all parents are expecting once their child hits a certain age. There is another critical decision once you have established curfew rules and how far they are permitted to travel unattended. Welcome to the world of the phone and child phone ages!
Deciding when to allow your child a mobile phone is a personal choice and one which depends on a variety of factors. Your location, their maturity, routines, and school journeys can all play a part in your decision. You have been hearing all about screen time, and phones take this to the next level.
Here at Twin Cities Kids Club, we do more than simply offer you access to the best discounts and exclusive offers. We also want to help smooth the path to parenthood wherever possible. Read on for our top tips when it comes to children and cell phones!
Why Might You Get A Phone For Your Child?
Parents across the world have a range of reasons for deciding to take that step with their child. Motivations for purchasing a phone can include:
- Staying safe outside the home
- Facilitating travel and contact for extra-curricular activities
- Offering your child more responsibility
- Peace of mind for parents
- Allowing your child to fit in with peers
No matter your reasons, there are a few considerations to bear in mind before you take what is unarguably a big step.
Are They Ready?
On average, most children will receive their own personal phones at around the age of eleven. Some parents prefer to wait a few years until their child is twelve or thirteen. Neither is necessarily correct; all children are total individuals.
Some of the main questions to consider when making your decision include:
What Is The Motivation?
The chances are that your child will start asking for a phone before you bring up the idea. An excellent place to start is to consider whether or not they actually need a phone. This decision will depend primarily on individual circumstances.
If your child doesn’t really spend time independently out of the house, the need may not be so great. Research shows that 6 out of 10 parents of children between the ages of 8 and 12 will equip them with a cell phone. 73% say this helps them to keep track of their child with extra-curricular activities, while 84% cite safety.
If you have concerns that your child needs a phone, but is too young to access the internet, there are options. You can get a phone with call features only, no web or app access. You can also add your child to a family plan, and make the most of parental controls.
Are They Mature Enough?
The next thing to consider is the individual responsibility and maturity of your child. This will vary from family to family and is a personal choice. Is your child usually good at looking after their things, or are you endlessly replacing items? Do they understand the importance of privacy, and not using their phone to upset or bother others? Will they keep the phone switched on and charged, allowing you to get in touch if necessary?
For some children, their very first phone is a brilliant chance to take that next step and own a little more responsibility. In this case, this can be a learning moment and an opportunity to prove that they are grown up. Other children take longer to develop these skills, so you may wish to hold off a little longer.
Are They Aware of the Value?
Even if you are purchasing a basic model for children – and this should be fine – you will nevertheless incur a cost. Owning a phone is a chance to teach your child about the value of money – they are in charge of an expensive item.d
You will also need to consider the cost of data plans and contracts. Check that your child is old enough to understand how much they can spend, and the consequences of they exceeding the limit.
It is possible to add your child’s phone to your own data plan and to implement parental locks and restrictions. Make sure you do a little research to avoid the risk of running up a huge bill!
Can They Stay Safe?
Mobile phones can be a great way to keep your child safe. They do, however, have downsides, including the risks which come with unsupervised internet access. Younger children are unlikely to grasp the risk fully and may unintentionally expose themselves to danger.
This move is a great opportunity to sit down with your child and make sure that they understand how to use the internet safely. Offering clear, age-appropriate information now will be a real bonus in the long run, and offer you extra peace of mind.
There are also filters and restrictions that parents can put in place; check these out for extra security.
Do They Know Where To Seek Help?
Despite your best intentions, unfortunately, sometimes unexpected events happen. Tempting as it may be, you cannot shield and protect your child from every bad situation. Instead, work with them to equip them with the tools they need.
Make sure that they know what to do if someone bullies or harasses them online. Check that they are aware of the process to follow if someone sends an unsolicited picture or message.
As they get older, social media may become an issue, so approach this carefully. Can they be trusted to monitor their own accounts and come to you if there is an issue? An alternative is to be aware of login details, allowing you to check-in at random.
A phone can be a great addition and safety feature – make sure that your child knows how to protect themselves.
Are You Taking The Plunge?
Deciding whether to go ahead with a first phone is a personal decision and will depend on a range of factors. By following our top tips, you can help to make a calm, sensible, and informed decision which benefits you and your child.
The challenges of parenting are never complete, and the battle is never won! Here at Twin Cities Kids Club, we want to try and help. Head over for more top tips, as well as exclusive offers and insider info! Enjoy!