What Age Should You Give a Kid Their First Phone?
Many kids are fascinated with phones – they enjoy using them to play games, take photos and Facetime relatives. Furthermore, they’re curious to see how other children use phones, and may feel left out if they don’t own one yet. So at what age should children get their first phone?
At its core, finding the “right” age for children doesn’t lie with birthday-based milestones alone but rather in their maturity level and ability to manage smartphone demands. According to Emily Cherkin, former middle school teacher and screen-time consultant, it’s essential that parents consider how well your child handles phone distractions; whether this interference will interfere with other things necessary for healthy development such as getting enough restful sleep and spending quality family time – as well as losing or misplacing devices aren’t likely be responsible with their phone.
Cherkin is part of a movement encouraging parents to wait until eighth grade before giving their children phones and social media accounts, citing how children tend to sleep longer, engage more fully with schoolwork, and their prefrontal cortices have nearly completed development – the part of their brain responsible for decision-making, impulse suppression and learning. Her group, “Wait Until 8th,” encourages families who share this desire to sign a pledge and meet other families waiting until their children reach eighth grade.
Experts generally agree that once children reach 12, they’re mature and responsible enough for a cell phone; however, many children already possess phones by 10 years old. Research demonstrates that while some may use their phone responsibly and maturely at that age, others can quickly be drawn into risky activities like sexting, pornography and other risky practices at such an early age.
Parents still unsure whether their children are ready for phones should start them off with an inexpensive basic phone without internet capabilities as an effective way of testing out how your child responds when given responsibility over something of their own.
Establish expectations and boundaries from day one, including when their phone can or cannot be used, passwords for their phones and how much screen time will be allowed. Arnall suggests avoiding using their phones as punishments because she believes this will deter children from coming forward with information regarding inappropriate or illegal conduct on them.
She emphasizes the importance of giving your kids some freedom and allowing them to make mistakes and learn from them, which helps develop independence while teaching responsible decision making skills in future. Finding a balance will likely work best for most children but will vary according to each one’s unique circumstances.