The best age to give your child a smartphone
It’s the question for the modern age — when is it ok to get your kid a phone — smart or otherwise? As with just about every other parenting issue, it really is up to you, your family and your values.
Here’s my advice with regard to the phone thing. Remember! This is MY advice. Do what you think makes the most sense for your family.
- No phone, at all, until 6th grade or middle school, whichever comes first. What? Not until 6th grade? But all the other kids have one and you want your child to “fit in.” Seriously? What are you,12? Not all the kids have one and if you fall for this, you are allowing yourself to be peer pressured into doing something that’s against your values. What kind of example are you setting for your kids when you do?
- First phone is a dumb phone. This means no hand-me-down iPhone because you upgraded. And definitely no brand new smartphone for a person who can’t keep track of their belongings in general. You get the best tech in the house. Cuz you’re the mom (or dad) that’s why.
- “OMG! You are soooooo mean. EVERYONE has one. I NEEEEEEED one.” True. See #1. And for the record, I was heavily pressured by my mother-in-law (who is an amazing and lovely person who lost her mind for a wee bit of time) to get Milo a smartphone and I resisted. For two years I heard some version of, “All his friends have one! He should have one! Milo, I’ll buy you one!” From. My. Mother-in-law.
- You need to have some basic rules about phone use and phone etiquette. You may remember the rules of your youth like no calls during mealtimes or before 9 AM or after 9 PM. Also, it is not a requirement to respond to the phone when it rings, chimes, bings, bops or sings. You may need to clean up your own act in this department. I’m talking to you, Mr or Ms Texting/ Phoning while driving. Sooooooooo, not safe. And illegal. They are watching you.
- Be clear that they can only text people they know in real life.
- Don’t forget who owns the phone. It’s YOU. And even if the phone was a gift, you own the access, therefore you own the phone.
- Smartphone = porn phone. Just in case you never realized it, a smartphone is a tiny little computer that can do all the cool things (and more!) that your laptop does. When kids have smartphones, their ability to access porn and other yucky stuff increases considerably. This is just common sense. Why would you increase the likelihood they will see porn before they are really capable of understanding what they see and making a reasoned decision about looking at it?
- The time for a smartphone is freshman year of high school. Or never. We allowed Milo to get a smartphone when he started high school. He researched the phone and paid for half of it. He is very careful with it and super proud to have it. He treats it with respect because he knows we will take it away if he does anything risky with it. And its a very cool phone, so its a great status symbol.
- Once the phone is in your life, be sure to use monitoring software like Qustodio. This way you can track the apps they are down loading, the sites they are visiting and keep those lines of communication open. It’s not spying because you tell your kid its on the phone to make sure they are using it appropriately.
- You do not want to be the parent who gets “that call.” You know, the call from the school because your child showed another child porn on the school bus. This happens all the time. Just ask your kids. No smartphone means your kid won’t be “that” kid and you won’t be “that” parent.
Yes! I want to join over 10,000 other smart parents who learn how to talk to their kids about sex!