Parenting in the modern world is really hard. There are so many new factors to contend with – mobile devices, social media and television to name a few. All of these expose us to the world around us, and not always the good bits.
Phones are no longer used just to make calls. One has nearly full access to the internet and everything on it using a mobile device. This is such a powerful tool – but also a very dangerous one in the wrong hands. As parents, we need to protect our children from being exposed to things well above their age. More and more kids have their own, or have access to a mobile phone. It is natural for our kids to start asking for them as well when everyone else has one.
While phones can be dangerous in the hands of children, they can also be very useful for communication. If we are running late to fetch them from school or want to check up on them during the day, a simple message to their phone is so simple.
You need to decide when the right age is for your child to get a phone. You know your child and your needs best, and will be able to tell when the time is right. However, there are a few considerations to take into account before buying your child a phone.
Every child is different
Just because the other kids in the class have phones, doesn’t mean your child is ready. Some kids mature faster than others, and other parents put more importance on different things. Buying your child a phone to fit in is not a good idea. They need to be ready to handle one, and all the responsibility that comes along with having a phone.
You may find that your youngest child is more mature than your oldest. In no way does this mean you should give your youngest child a phone first, but age does not define maturity. A mature child will be able to understand the rules and responsibility of using a phone, which makes it a lot safer for them to have one. Having a phone before they are ready means they are at risk of seeing things they are not ready for, thanks to the internet.
If you do decide to buy your child a phone, especially if out of necessity, make sure that the phone has parental control capabilities. While kids might be better at technology than us, they won’t be able to figure out a parental password lock on a phone. The parental lock will block them accessing any prohibited sites or videos, and will only allow them to play kid-friendly games and make calls. They are easily manipulated, so cutting off access to any outside influences is for their own good.
Is there a need?
You have to assess your needs. If you need to be in contact with your child during the day and if there is no other way to do so, you may need to get them a phone. On the other hand, if you have no need for this and your child wants a phone just to fit in or as a toy, rather hold off. Let your kid be a kid and don’t let them become exposed to everything the internet and social-media have to offer just yet. If your child does need a phone, remember to put parental control functions on it. This way you can be sure they aren’t using their phone for any unsavoury (however innocent) activities.
Kids are growing up way too fast nowadays. We need to ensure that they still have a childhood to enjoy. One of the best ways of doing this is to keep them away from the internet as much as possible. While it can be such a powerful educational tool, the internet contains things no child should be exposed to, and it is scary how easily accessible these things are.
Encourage your child to play games outside, make things with their hands and just be a kid. You as a parent will know when the right time is to get your child a phone. Don’t let peer pressure be the reason you do so. Base it on need, maturity and parental control.