Do you have an elementary age child who is asking for a Smartphone?
Do you have a middle school preteen who is convinced s/he is the only human in the world without a Smartphone?
Are you as a parent worried about handing your child/preteen a Smartphone?
If you answered any of these questions with a YES, read on!
(and if you know someone who is struggling with this, please pass this article on to them!)
Kids will be kids and they all want what everyone else has, am I right? We adults are quite the same… I wonder where they are learning this behavior? ;)
We all want the latest gadgets, the best (new) car, the nicest clothes and the coolest vacation. Oh, did I mention we all want our kids to fit in?
Now it’s almost Christmas and your child has been relentless in asking you for a Smartphone. You really don’t know if s/he is ready. You need help!
As an experienced mom with three teens and one preteen, I’ve been there, done that three times over. The best advice I can give you is to look at each child and each request for a Smartphone as a stand-alone case. Just because one child is ready at 10, doesn’t mean the next one is ready at 10 as well. They might be 13 before s/he is mature enough to handle a phone.
Full disclosure – my teens were 14, 15 & 16 when they each bought themselves a Smartphone. I’d given each of them a pay-as-you-go phone a few years before that, which they all disliked and kept misplacing. As soon as they bought a phone with their own money and paid the bill each month, they became very responsible and we’ve had no issues with loss, theft or broken phones.
My youngest is almost 12 and hasn’t asked for a phone, but has asked for an Instagram account (the answer is ‘no, you may not go on Instagram when you are 11’) He’ll most likely will have to wait until 8th grade to get one, unless he manages to save enough money to buy one earlier.
I highly recommend you look at each child and use this checklist below as a guide to see if your child/preteen might be ready for a Smartphone.
Here are 7 signs that you child is (or might be) ready for a Smartphone!
Your child has been asking for a phone consistently and has presented you with at least one valid reason for them to need a phone. (‘Everyone has one’ is NOT a valid reason to give your child a phone.)
Your child is aware of (and is able to give you a rundown of) school cell hone usage policies. S/he knows and understands rules about using phones in class (or not).
You and your child have discussed signs of online bullying, dangers of friending strangers and identity theft.
Your child does well with rules and understands and accepts consequences for their actions.
You, as parents, agree on your child needing or wanting a phone. Only if both parents agree and stick to the same rules, is giving your young child a phone a good idea.
You, as parents, have a basic understanding of Smartphones. I recommend that you give your child the same type of phone that you currently own. This will make it easier when navigating their phone to check on settings if they are the same.
Your child had agreed to cell phone usage rules and etiquette rules. I recommend checking online for a template for a ‘contract’ s/he can sign. This should include rules about phone usage during family dinners, in the car, nighttime usage , etc.
If your child is mature enough, it might be the right time for your child to get a Smartphone. Perhaps Santa will deliver a Smartphone to your child.
Before you set it up and let them enter the world wide web, please consider a FAMILY SMART PHONE CONTRACT. Feel free to download and use this contract as-is, or add rules or take some out that don't apply. A contract gives clarity to you and your child about what is expected, as well as consequences when rules are broken.