Parents often ask this question but a specific number cannot be given every single time. As kids are not all the same and reach maturity levels at different ages, parents ought to handle each child as a singular case.
The internet isn’t exactly the safest place for kids to delve in, and as a parent, it is your duty to make sure your child is safe and unharmed, and is away from making mistakes that could be long-lasting.
There are several checklists and questions parents can ask themselves, so they have a clearer answer to when their kids should have a phone.
Lebanon Kids’ Guide compiled a list of tips for parents to follow:
- Is your kid generally responsible?
Some kids tend to lose their belongings and aren’t exactly mature enough to handle expensive devices such as a smartphone. In addition to the possibility of losing a phone that costs a minimum of $200 these days, in-app purchases might drain your credit card if kids are impulsive and not educated well enough about the responsibility that comes with owning a phone.
- Is your kid a bully or too sensitive?
Parents might not see the fact that their kid is mean to other kids. Owning a phone that is connected to the internet will open the doors to cyberbullying, which is in a way damaging to other kids – especially if the latter are your kid’s victims at school. The same goes to sensitive or introverted kids who might be exposed to child predators, sexting, or bullies.
Do not allow your kid to use their phone during class, while doing homework, during family meals, or when crossing the street. Make sure your child understands when it is appropriate to use their phone, and if they disobey, they should know what the consequences are. You may confiscate the device, cut off the internet, or set a screen-time limit. Parents have the right to set the rules and the consequences in case the former were disobeyed.
- Set parental control
Some devices like iPhones have built-in parental control settings, and for devices like Androids, apps are available on Google Store. You are entitled to know the passcode of the phone, to check the content your kid is uploading online, and the choice to limit the contact list they have.
- Use dumbed-down phones
You may purchase dumbed-down phones or smart watches as a test first. Instead of directly giving your kid a smart phone, you can use devices that aren’t connected to the internet – they can only use them to place calls, send text messages, and use a navigation system. If they are responsible enough with these devices, then you may consider a smart phone.