Is your child ready for a smartphone? There are definitely some things to consider before going down this road with your child. To begin with we need to recognize that every family, every situation, and every child is different and needs to be looked at and considered as such. What works for one child might not work for another.
“Mom, I neeeeeed a smartphone,” implored my fourteen year old.
For many of us, we are constantly hearing appeals for smartphones from our children and teens. Unfortunately, it’s not a simple request and it can be difficult deciding when to give in to his or her pleas. After all, there is a huge difference between a need and want, plus we have read all the headlines about cyberbullying, oversharing, child predators, and the dangers of texting while driving. Many of us aren’t exactly enthusiastic about this new milestone our sons and daughters are so eager to achieve.
To help decide if our children are ready for smartphone ownership, we need to consider a variety of details and scenarios before running out to purchase this much anticipated device. Besides the costs involved, it opens our kids up to a whole new world of possibilities, good and bad. It is imperative that we ask ourselves if they are mature enough to handle this new level of responsibility and how we are going to manage this new technology in our family.
Is My Child Ready?
Today’s children are digital natives and don’t bat an eyelash at glowing screens and social media apps. Research shows that 75 percent of American children under the age of 8 already have access to “smart” technology, but that doesn’t naturally enable our children and tweens with the knowledge to safely navigate the ever changing landscape of the digital realm.
American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Corinn Cross, said it best in an interview with CBS News, “Think about the situation your child is in and why you really want to get them the phone. Do you want to get them the phone for safety? Do you want to get them the phone so they communicate with their friends? And then make sure they’re ready to handle the responsibility that you are giving them.”
Are You Prepared?
In our family, it bothered us to acknowledge the facts, our fourteen year old was right. There had been times where he couldn’t contact us after practice or during late night ball games at school. Unfortunately, there are no public or pay phones collecting quarters anymore which caused our son to rely on the kindness of others far too often. As much as parents hate to admit it, after all our children’s begging, the time might have come for us to give in and allow them the privilege of smartphone ownership.
Even though our child was ready to jump on the smartphone wagon, we weren’t sold one hundred percent. Before we hand over a cellphone, experts recommend that it is important to contemplate the rules, expectations, and consequences we expect our family and children to follow. Families should address issues like cyberbullying, sexting, oversharing, and online gaming in our planning to create a technology or smartphone contract that holds everyone accountable- even us.
6 Essential Tips For Kids And Smartphone Ownership
If smartphone ownership is looming on your horizon, consider the following suggestions to protect your children while keeping them safely scrolling on social media and snapping selfies:
- Learn about online dangers facing our children to help keep them safe. By educating ourselves, we can be on the lookout for warning signs a child is sexting, oversharing, or involved in cyberbullying.
- Walk a child through the process of setting their privacy settings for their phone and social media accounts.
- Start a dialogue regarding the power of words, proper etiquette on social media sites, dangers of sexting, and even how online predators find victims. By laying out potential pitfalls, our children will be better equipped to make good choices and approach you if they encounter a frightening situation.
- Consider using a monitoring program that grants access to a child’s cellphone’s text messages, social media use, and more. We wouldn’t let our children drive a car without any lessons or instruction. Smartphones should be no different. As a child ages and demonstrates responsible digital citizenship, you can relax and allow them more freedoms.
- Implement a charging area in the home. Overnight, have everyone plug in their devices to keep everyone powered up and the bedrooms tech free. As an added bonus, it will be a lot easier to get out the door in the morning.
- Reclaim family time! Keep devices away from the dinner table or activities so we can have face-to-face conversations.
What tips do you have for children getting their first smartphone?