There comes a time in the life of every modern parent when they find themselves in a serious dilemma – when is the best time to buy a smartphone for their kid? Considering that we’re dependent on them and that they’re part of our everyday life, we can expect them to want to have it at any time, too.
The question is: when is the right time to approve it? Is it best to follow the example of others or, knowing your kid, make the decision which is best for them? In situations like this, the opinion is always divided between ‘how the hell will I know where they are if I have no way to call them?’ and ‘they’re still too small to carry a phone’.
In any case, the crucial point is to ask yourself how this affects the overall functioning and development of your child.
We need to be aware of the fact that they’re constantly looking at us as an example and that’s why we shouldn’t be surprised when they ask us to buy them a smartphone. Many parents don’t know how to treat that request correctly. They know that there’s a possibility of making a mistake, whatever they decide.
Before making a decision, it’s fundamental to ask yourself a few questions and consider some things. Although applications such as Facebook or Instagram have already set an age limit, this isn’t an adequate confirmation of the exact number of years a child needs to use a mobile device. This is why we bring you a few crucial questions that you need to answer to make sure how old your child needs to get this ‘toy’.
What will he/she use it for?
Be clear about why your child needs a phone. If you approve of it just because all their classmates and friends are carrying it, you’ll most likely be wrong. Because of the weakness we have towards them, we’ll give in to the first signs of their anger because of our disapproval. But did we help them with that or not?
If you constantly spend time with your child outside apart from basic school activities, then they may not need it. However, if they’re engaged in some other activities in addition to school, for example, they attend foreign language classes or do some sports, you’ll likely need to call them during the day. Or they’ll need to call you if they need you urgently.
One of the options also includes GPS tracking of their movement, which, you must admit, means much for some parents. Phonetracker.com advises you not to do this in secret, but to inform the youngest members of the family that they must keep the GPS locator on so that you can find them in case of an emergency.
For this type of needs, there are mobile devices with basic functions for calls and messages, in case you think that your little one might be too little to carry a smartphone. A couple of buttons will be enough for them to get in touch with you, and that’s basically all you need.
Is he/she responsible enough?
It’s not an easy question and the answer is often quite biased, so once you ask yourself this, you have to look at things realistically.
If you agreed, it means that you have absolute confidence in your child’s responsibility and that they’ll probably use it for the right purposes. Experts believe that children aged 12 to 14 have this trait as, during this period, they develop certain skills and most parents then agree to let them have such gadgets. Still, make sure they take good care of it, which means not bringing the device with a broken screen to you after two days and causing you an additional cost.
Can they deal responsibly enough with the school rules that prescribe when the mobile device can be used and when not? Are they mature enough to understand the educational benefits and opportunities or they might use it to intimidate or bully their peers? Explain to them what it means to use the technique responsibly and make sure they understand you.
Did you explain all the security issues to him/her?
This question is especially significant if you want to buy them a smartphone and if they’re teenagers. Internet crime lurks in our children every day and, with the development of social networks, they’ve become an even easier target for criminals.
By posting explicit content on Facebook or Instagram, they can compromise their security, as well as by irresponsibly sending sexy photos to strangers, they might put themselves in rather a dangerous situation.
Don’t forget to mention all this to your teenager when discussing buying a smartphone. Developing responsibility can save their life. And if based on some other life situations, you have come to the conclusion that they mostly behave properly, then there are no obstacles left.
Is he/she old enough to understand costs?
Mobile operators offer different types of service packages. Thanks to them, you can limit the use of the mobile data and other benefits. However, whichever you choose, you’ll be required to pay a monthly bill that increases with each overdraft.
While some offer a huge internet flow and an unlimited number of SMS, others will give you limited minutes of talk and messaging. With each overdraft, parents will have to pay more. So, with the purchase of a smartphone that has an infinite number of possibilities, your costs increase.
Downloading apps, music and movies without connecting to wireless networks might quickly cross the allowed megabytes limit and then you’re in financial trouble. Are you sure that your children are mature enough to understand how much it will cost you if they behave wastefully?
What’s appropriate and what isn’t?
Finally, parents need to have a clear view of what’s appropriate to watch online and what isn’t, and also which contents might be potentially harmful and which are educational and useful. Also, how they affect development and socialization. For those who have a negative impact, it’s essential to set boundaries and control them in some way.
Research has shown that a large number of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 have a smartphone. Which further implies that they have access to the Internet, music, and video content at all times. Determine if these features are necessary and customized for them and if you feel they aren’t, access one of the prohibition and restriction measures.
On the other hand, constant spending time on social networks can hurt the mental state. They’re often the biggest causes of anxiety and depression. Constant observation of other people’s lives, which at first glance seem ideal and comparing one’s own with them, creates a feeling of dissatisfaction and lower value, which leads to serious psychological problems. That’s why it’s important to determine at what age the child is mentally most prepared for such a step.