A recent study commissioned by the National Consumers League found that nearly 60 percent of parents said they offered cell phones to their children at ages 10 or 11. Is that too young?
Parents of school-aged children eventually find themself in a quandry over when is the right time to allow their child to have their own phone.
Boys Town, a national child care organization, started over 95 years ago, offers these tips to help parents make the right choice for their family on how to decide the right time for a child to have an iPhone 6S or 6S Plus and how to manage the technology.
- Children under the age of 12 should be under some sort of adult supervision at all times, therefore an adult will be with them and likely have access to a phone. In this case there is less need for a child’s own phone.
- If the child is beyond the need for constant adult supervision, consider the child’s maturity level. If they are known for losing things, now may not be the best time. However, if they are responsible with “lesser things”, it might be time to let him or her extend that responsible behavior to a phone.
- A family policy should be established for phone usage. The policy should address who the child is permitted to call and what the child can do with the phone (text, talk, surf the internet, download music or other content). Parameters should also be set for where and when he/she can use it and how the parent will monitor the usage.
“Smartphone usage isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition,” says Laura Buddenberg, parent trainer at Boys Town. “Allow your child to have the phone for short periods of time and see how it goes.”Boys Town counsels families and schools across the country on the best parenting and discipline practices. These strategies incorporate those teachings and can be used for effective parenting in the home.”
Now when it comes to social media access, that’s a whole other story. At least parents should know that most sites restrict children under 13 from using their services. Federal Trade Commission regulations and guidance that require them to take extensive steps to secure children’s privacy, unless it’s a service made for kids, most social media sites just limit them from joining altogether. At least that’s one decision to put off until adolescence.