Children and Cell Phones – what is the right age?

Nowadays, the pressure to buy your child a cell phone is on a par with the dilemma parents felt when Heelies came out (those shoes with wheels on), when miniskirts were in, and when ear piercing was the trend.  You want to give your kid all you didn’t have, but what is the right age for a cell phone?

Cell phones have their advantages when it comes to kids.  One can get hold of little Johnny no matter where he is.  But, think about this, where is little Johnny going that you cannot get hold of him by means of someone else’s phone, land line or mobile?

Deciding what is the right age to hand over a mobile phone to your child, should be based on a couple of factors.

1.   Readiness, not age

While many parents are putting an age limit on when their child gets a cell phone, the trend is around 10 apparently, we believe that it should be rather a readiness factor.  And, by this we mean that every child is different, and matures differently.  It is more about whether they are able to take responsibility for the electronic device, rather than whether they have hit puberty.

From simple questions like, “Do they forget items everywhere?” and “Are they prone to losing stuff?” to “Are they ready to be exposed to the public?” and “Will they know what to do if they encounter a problem online?”

You are the best person to assess your child’s readiness and what is the right age.

2.   Cyber Training

Schools are offering cyber training or digital courses today, and it’s not just about how to work your way around a computer, but also all about the online world.  Much like, before you hand over the keys to your car, you would teach your kid how to drive the car.  While us adults didn’t get any lessons in cell phones, it’s important that we extend this very important stepping stone to our younger selves.

If their school doesn’t offer these types of courses or lessons, there are plenty of You Tube videos you could download.  Make it an evening thing and sit with them.  You too will learn something new, we are sure of it.  You will learn about the dangers of being online to also the benefits.  Kids can learn how to be safe and learn about ways that will help them with school work and general learning.

children and cell phones

3.   Agreements

If your child thinks they are old enough, then treat them like they were an adult.  Not so much in that they can do whatever they like, but rather that there will be an agreement or contract in place, by which they have to abide by.

You can include in this agreement such parameters like:

  • The number of hours they are allowed on the device
  • What times of the day they can be online
  • What platforms they are allowed to sign up with
  • Who they can have on their online chat portals
  • That you will be monitoring them via a parental control app or taking their phone for a squizz at any given time, unannounced

Make them sign it and should they default at any point with the contract points, then the phone gets removed for a specific period of time.

4.   Parental Control Apps

On that note, there are many ways to monitor your child’s phone and activity online.  Parental control apps are built so that you can check exactly what they are doing and when.  They may not like it, but it really should be a condition right from the start.  Eset is one such platform that will help you to keep some form of control over what your kid is up to on their cell phone.

So, deciding what is the right age to give your child a cell phone, can most definitely be an easy problem to solve .