In an increasingly fast-paced world, where the new generations are increasingly precocious, one of the big questions parents ask themselves is: At what age should children have a mobile phone? Although the answer will depend largely on the situation of each family and on special circumstances, experts recommend that kid should not get a smartphone before the age of twelve.
- At what age should children have a smartphone?
- Dangers associated with using the smartphone at an early age
- What can we do?
- And when the time comes…
At what age should children have a smartphone?
Technology is a key part of the lives of all people and increasingly, from younger ages. And the truth is that, beyond dependency or even necessity, technology is present in almost all areas of life. Now, when can a child be considered to be mature enough to make good use of the device?
In this sense, it is believed that children should not have access to this technology before the age of 12. Although this age is the minimum recommended by experts, they also reveal that certain applications such as WhatsApp or various social networks should not be used before the age of 15 or 16. In other words, a 12-year-old boy can use his phone to play games, watch multimedia content, but it is not recommended to allow him access to social networks.
Actually, the ideal would be that children do not have it until they reach 15 years of age. In fact, in countries like France, some laws have been passed that prohibit children under 15 from using mobile phones in schools. This regulation also prohibits the use of this type of device at recess. Without a doubt, it is a measure that seeks to preserve the safety of children and adolescents, as well as promoting traditional outdoor activities.
Dangers associated with using the smartphone at an early age
Experts warn about the dangers associated with using the smartphone. Hence the importance of young children not having access to this technology. It is true that many parents buy a smartphone to their children with the aim of being able to locate them quickly, but it must also be remembered that it is not necessary for a device to have internet access.
Access to inappropriate content
The Internet is a window to knowledge, but also a showcase of dangers. For example, pornography is one of the main problems for minors, especially because of how easy it is to access it. Or many other things which kids should not see or be aware of at that age.
Bullying can escalate to the comfort of home or to any corner of the world through technology. Cyberbullying is one of the great dangers that children face today.
Like video games, uncontrolled use of it can lead to addiction. The main reasons for this lie on social networks, the possibility of accessing games and inappropriate or prohibited content.
What can we do?
We must be aware that at certain ages the request for a mobile phone is something that will be there, it is a reality and we cannot look the other way, nor act impulsively without thinking about the possible implications for our child.
Before the request, it is convenient to take time to analyze it and prepare an adequate response that can be understandable and reasoned (although it does not have to be shared) by the minor.
When we have made a decision and have an answer, we must act in coordination within the family. It is recommended that the whole family, parents, grandparents, uncles, etc. Please respect this decision and act accordingly to avoid conflicting messages and “surprises” in the form of unanticipated gifts.
In the same way, we must be consistent, that is, do not change the answer for yes, or simply for the minor’s insistence. This does not mean that we should become inflexible, if the need change or we notice that the degree of maturity and responsibility of the minor are improved, we can reconsider our decision.
And when the time comes…
Logically, the time will come and then it is not enough just to make the phone available to you, we will have to continue our work of education, accompaniment and daily supervision, only including also the new device, its uses and repercussions in the daily life of our kids.
A good idea may be to accompany the buying of the new device with a close conversation, in confidence about everything it entails, responsibility for the use, content that should not be believed, caution in potentially dangerous messages, control of the list of friends, the care of their privacy, respect for others, etc. reaching a consensus regarding the rules of use.
Configuration, protection and supervision
We can not forget the importance of properly configuring the security and privacy options of the phone, which will be equivalent to those for the configuration of a tablet.
In addition, we can activate the restrictions and parental control options of the phone’s own operating system both in the case of an Android or an iOS (iPhone, iPad), or value the installation of parental control tools. If you think your kid needs an even higher level of monitoring from you, due to age or immaturity, there are applications, such as spyphone.com, that offer you the option of GPS tracking of the device. Then you won’t have to worry at all.
Prepare for problems
Even with all the care we have put and with all the caution of our children, it is normal that we can see them get into some trouble on the Internet. That is why we must be prepared to face the online problems of our children, being aware of the importance of having an adequate reaction, without exaggerating, showing confidence and a constructive attitude that gives them security and helps us to resolve the situation.
Smartphones are not toys, they are great tools to take advantage of the Internet, but without adequate training or without the degree of maturity and sufficient responsibility they can have negative consequences for our children. Therefore, the decision whether or not to give them one does not depend only on their age, but also on their behavior and attitudes, and on our involvement in accompanying them in the process.