How old should kids be before they get their own smartphone?
That's a question that today's parents have to figure out.
When I was a child, the big question was when can I get my driver's license and start driving?
But in today's culture, the bigger question kids are asking is "When can I get my first smartphone?"
PCMag recently polled a thousand parents and asked them when they'd feel comfortable giving their child a smartphone. Here are the results.
53% said ages 12-to-15-years old.
23% said ages 9-to-11-years old.
17% said ages 16-to-18 years old.
There are some valid reasons why you should give your child a smart phone.
It makes it easier for you to stay in touch with them. It gives you the ability to check on your child instantly.
It may be tied to their school assignments. As kids get older, their teachers may give them assignments that involve using a smartphone. Parents want to make sure their child doesn't get left behind.
Emergencies. When there is an emergency and parents need to find out their child's status, they can do so with a smartphone.
There are also valid reasons why parents should not get their child a smartphone at an early age.
It can change parent's bonding with their child. As kids grow, they should be bonding with their parents. This happens best with face-to-face interactions and connectivity. A text message on a screen simply cannot match a face-to-face conversation.
It can cause less sleep. A smartphone is a portal to endless games, conversations and information. These interactions can become addictive to the point where kids sleep with their smartphone right beside them. It's hard to have a stellar day at school when you were up all night on your smartphone.
It can impact your child's mental health. Experts say smartphone use could negatively impact a child's mental health. Smartphones can bring bullying and other vices that can cause depression and anxiety.
Smartphones can lead to behavioral problems. When kids spend endless hours with a smartphone, it can cause both emotional and social problems. It also shortens children's already minuscule attention spans.
It exposes children to violence. A smartphone opens the door for violent games and apps.
For these and other reasons, parents should be very intentional about when they will give their child a smartphone. They must also be diligent to guide their child through the blessings and dangers that daily emerge from smartphones.
Your turn. Does your child have a smartphone? At what age did you give it to them? Has it been a good thing in your child's life? Or perhaps a negative thing so far? What other advice would you give to parents who are debating about giving their child a smartphone or not?