What is the right age to give your child his or her first smartphone. It’s a question many parents are asking with new research showing Australians think it should be later rather than sooner.
A survey by finder.com.au among 2,005 respondents shows that we want our kids to be teenagers before handling the responsibility of their own mobile device.
The research found that 14 was the right age.
Two in five people (44 per cent) says 13 to 15 is the appropriate time to consider a smartphone for your child.
But nearly a quarter of those surveyed (24 per cent) says between the ages of 10 and 12 will be the right time.
More than a quarter (28 per cent) say children should wait till the ages of 16 to 18.
This decision, of course, is up to the parents of the child and would also depend on other factors like being home alone at any time or having to catch public transport.
It’s not unusual for primary school and even preschool kids having their own phones.
But only two per cent of respondents thought seven to nine were acceptable ages to have a phone.
What a parent needs to consider is whether the phone is needed for security and whether the child has the maturity to handle that responsibility.
But whatever age parents decide is the right one for their child to have their first phone, there are things you need to do once the decision has been made.
What sort of phone should they buy?
We’d suggest an entry-level phone that’s not too big and with all the features necessary to run apps and be contactable.
How much should I spend?
It’s not wise to spend too much money on a child’s first phone. They could lose it or damage it. There are plenty of affordable options to consider.
What are the rules?
Parents must remember a phone is like a mini computer that’s connected to the Internet and they should set up parental controls to ensure they don’t view inappropriate content or over share on social media.
How often should they use it?
When a parent agrees to give their child their first phone it should be on the condition it is used appropriately and not at the expense of their chores and school work.
It should be pointed out the device is not a toy but a way to stay in touch and not as something that will take over their lives.
Lead by example
Children will copy what their parents do, so don’t be looking at your phone every five minutes because your kids will copy you.
Parents should also insist for screen free periods and for the device to be turned off and put away at bedtime.