According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 22% of children reported using cell phones, compared with 60% of tweens and 84% of teens. There is no “right” answer for this question. Most children are interested in smartphones and devices even as babies. Usually, children between 10 and 13 start asking to have one of their own.
To make sure you don’t let your child go mobile too soon, evaluate your child’s maturity level and their ability to communicate questions, thoughts and feelings. Next, evaluate your comfort level in answering any of their questions.
If saying “yes” to a cell phone is going to bring up questions or situations that will be too much for you, you are not ready. If saying “yes” to a cell phone is going to force you to constantly monitor your child’s activities, they are not ready.
Giving a child access to a cell phone widens their world considerably. You need to set parameters, but you can’t expect these rules to stop an immature child from getting into mobile mischief. If your child isn’t ready to have their own phone, setting parameters is just not enough to stop them from being irresponsible.
The takeaway: You and your child need to establish trust with each other before navigating this new step together.
Read more about how cell phone usage, internet access, apps and social media can affect your child.