Is there a right or wrong age to give a child their own smartphone?
We live on a planet where there are more mobile devices than there are human beings. Most adults wouldn't be able to function without their cell phones—whether it be for work, communication, information or entertainment.
But what about children? When does it make sense for our little ones to have their own phone or access to one?
At Pela, one of our top selling points for our eco-friendly iPhone case is that it is free from harmful chemicals such as lead, cadmium, phthalates and BPA.
Of course, the obvious remark here is "who cares about the case, the phone itself is much more dangerous to children." To which we say, yup, totally agree. No case can protect your children from the potential harmful effects of a smartphone like the effects of too much radiation.
Not to mention the other things that keep us up at night (figuratively AND literally)...
- the impact of blue light on sleep patterns
- device & notification addiction
- access to explicit and mature content
- online predators
- bullying and hateful comments
- aches and pains in hands, neck, shoulders and back
This list should be enough to scare off any adult from their own phones so how do we protect our children from all the things?
Well for starters, we don't. We can't.
But we CAN change our perspective and prepare our children to be responsible smartphone users to limit any harm they might cause.
Don't think age, Think maturity
So back to our original question, is there a "right" age for when our children will be ready to own their own cell phones?
Seeing as all children are not created equal, there's no way to create a rule with such a broad stroke.
Instead here are a few questions you can ask yourself to find out if your child is mature enough to figure out the best habits for themselves when it comes to their smartphone usage:Does my child proactively let me know where they are going and when they'll be home?
- This is a great way to to gauge their sense of responsibility and the respect they have for open communication.
- Phones are an expensive investment and showing a sense of care for their personal belongings means they'll also show care for their phone.
- Knowing your child understands why boundaries are necessary can help quiet the fear of phone addiction and over exposure to radiation/blue light.
- While we all love our little angels, it's important to observe the way they treat others in real life. The hope is that they will carry empathy and kindness with them with their online activities.
- While this is a super scary and complicated topic, having open and honest conversation about these risks and how to spot red flags is the best way to prepare any child from online predators.
- While there are years when teens and parents can feel the strain of communication (read: puberty) we must let our children know and show them that we can be a safe space for them when they need us, to help or just to listen—even with the tricky and scary stuff.
At the end of the day, we're no experts over here. We're just parents like you figuring it out one day at a time.
Humans and technology, as far as we can see, will forever be intricately laced together. We really hope our children will get the best from the tools that are available to them in a safe and responsible way.