It's the burning question on every family's lips: At what age should you buy your kid a smartphone or similar mobile communications device? Ironically, as parenting experts note, and we point out in new book Parenting High-Tech Kids: The Ultimate Internet, Web, and Online Safety Guide, there's no one answer that fits every household. Rather, the decision when to invest in such devices is largely a function of family need, children's maturity level, and both how well-equipped that you feel your children are to make good decisions and the safety tools that you've put in place to catch them if they should stumble.
However, in the interest of providing a succinct answer, be advised: Many parents first introduce a cell phone to kids around age 13. While some households lean a little younger, you'll find it a fairly reasonable starting point if you're looking for an opening guideline. That said, it may help to remember as follows from a practical standpoint. When you really should introduce a mobile device to kids' lives is when there's actually a meaningful, pressing need to do so. For example, when your child starts after-school activities and will be outside of easy reach and you absolutely, positively need to keep in contact with them.
That said, a few key pieces of advice to keep in mind as you weigh the decision are as follows:
In addition, before placing a smartphone or connected device in kids' hands, it is also important to share the following safety tips:
As you can see, the decision on when and how to introduce a smartphone to a child isn't an easy or straightforward one. However, by following a few simple rules and guidelines, it becomes far easier to navigate - and far easier to help keep your kids safe online.
Award-winning professional speaker Scott Steinberg is among today's best-known trends experts and futurists, and the bestselling author of Parenting High-Tech Kids: The Ultimate Internet, Web, and Online Safety Guide, Millennial Marketing: Bridging the Generation Gap and Make Change Work for You: 10 Ways to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed Despite Uncertainty. His website is www.AKeynoteSpeaker.com.