Kids are growing up faster than ever. You only have to switch on the news to hear of another child subjected to online bullying, or being pressured by social media posts.
And while we all want to protect our children from online horrors, we have to accept that they’re growing up in a world very different from our own – one where technology rules.
|Image credit: Anthony Kelly|
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when a child should get their first smartphone, but one thing’s for sure: acceptable ages are getting younger and younger. And this isn’t a surprise – in fact, it’s a good thing.
Our children will work in a world where digital is key, and if they aren’t digital-savvy, they could miss out. Schools all over the world are putting more and more emphasis on using IT in lessons, even introducing coding lessons.
So, if you know it’s going to happen anyway, it’s time to start weighing up when your kids are ready to get a phone.
How responsible are they?
This is the most important question to ask yourself. If you can trust your children to use their phone sensibly, and give you complete access to apps, websites and passwords, then you’re onto a winner. NSPCC.org.uk has some great resources for parents and children alike, to help teach your kids the dangers of going online, and how to stay safe.
Nearly all phones come with parental locks and controls, so before you pick a phone, see which has the best ratings for enforced security and passwords.
How financially savvy are they?
We all hear about the kids who accidentally spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on sneaky in-app purchases, so it’s vital that your children have a good grasp about money. This is a two-fold approach really. They need to know the consequences of just clicking ‘buy’ when they need help in a game. And they need to know the average running costs of a phone.
You might not ask them to contribute towards their plan, but it’s good to sit down together to see what the costs are.
Sites like SimOnlyDeals.co.uk are good to give your children an idea of what they can get for their money. You could also explore comparison sites for phones too.
You could use this helpful infographic to explain the details of budgeting and finances, in an easy-to-understand way.
How good are they are prioritising?
Smartphones give children an endless source of amusement. From going on sites like Facebook.com to sending funny pictures to each other on SnapChat, it’s easy to get sucked into spending hours in front of the screen.
If you can trust your children to enjoy their off-screen lives as much as their on-screen ones, then it’s time to consider letting them have their own phone.
There are some great ideas in this article, about how to balance time on and off screen. And if you think you’re guilty of too much screen time, you might find them quite helpful too!
You can find more discussion around the issue of how to decide whether your kids are ready for their own phone in my post here.