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Is Your Child Ready for a Smartphone?

Is it time for your child to have a smartphone? Keep these things in mind before making the decision to get your child a device.

Kids playing with their phones, is your child ready for a smartphone?  

Your child keeps begging you for a smartphone, but you’re not sure if he’s ready for the responsibility. Here are some things to consider first:  

 

What’s the norm?

A few years ago, kids were getting their first smartphone around age 12. Now, the average age is ten (some are even as young as seven). But experts agree that the longer parents can wait to give a child a phone, the better.  

The reasoning: Smartphones can be an addictive distraction from homework and can keep kids from connecting with others. With the prevalence of social media, children and teens may be exposed to online bullying, child predators, and sexting. Without a device, the risk of this type of exposure is greatly decreased.  

How young is too young?

When it comes to devices in general, even toddlers love to push buttons and play games on tablets and phones. But experts suggest waiting until preschool before allowing exposure to any type of touchscreen device.   

Parental guidance is always recommended, regardless of your child’s age. As parents, you should always be aware of the type of online content your child is exposed to and the amount of time spent on a device.  

Even in a supervised environment, it’s suggested to wait until the age of 13 before getting a child a smartphone—though that age could vary, depending on the maturity of your child. As a parent, it’s up to you to decide if your child is ready for the responsibility at the age of 13.  

Related: How Smart Watches Can Help Improve Your Health  

It’s not all negative

There are many apps and games available that can be a great place for kids to learn new ideas and concepts—apps that can develop memory, math, critical thinking, music, and art skills.  

But keep in mind that there are certain language and communication skills that can only be learned from interacting in social situations. Encourage your child to engage in social activities in person and help them find opportunities to associate with their peers.  

Be sure to set boundaries

Once you do decide to take the plunge and get your child a smartphone, it’s important to establish boundaries. Decide early on if you’re going to allow your child to access social media, and determine how much time they will be allowed to use their phone each day. Perhaps you set a rule that phones are not allowed at the dinner table or that phones aren’t allowed after 8:00 p.m.  

Many teens want a phone to stay connected to their friends, even after school is done for the day. But if you’re concerned about the type of content your child may be able to access with a smartphone, consider getting a basic cellphone with only texting and calling capabilities.  

As a parent, it’s important to make this decision with caution. Having regular discussions with your child about the online dangers that exist and the responsibilities that come with owning a phone could keep your child safe from harm.      

 

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The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

References:

1. Chen, Brian X. “What’s the Right Age for a Child to Get a Smartphone?” The New York Times, 2016. Web. 22 March 2018.

2. Brown, Laura Lewis. “When to Introduce Your Child to a Smartphone or Tablet.” PBS Parents, 2012. Web. 26 April 2018.

3. Cohen, Danielle. “When Should You Get Your Kid a Phone?” Child Mind Institute, 2018. Web. 26 April 2018. 

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