It may seem like kids today are born with a cell phone in their hand, but in actuality, statistics indicate that most kids get their first cell phone at around age 6. Is handing a first-grader a cell phone ridiculously early, or is it the new norm?
I personally gave my son a cell phone at 9. But the reason being because we moved out of state and I wanted him to be able to stay in contact with friends and family without having my phone ring every 10 minutes. But I will tell you this, getting him a cell phone came in steps. I am going to share with you how I slowly weaned my son to having a mobile device. I am not saying this will work for everyone, but I am hoping it helps make the decision of giving your kid a cellular a little easier.
When a child appears ready for their first phone:
1. Install restrictive apps first
When giving your child a cell phone, you may put a parental app on there. Make sure you haven’t made any purchases on their phone, as the store may remember your card info.
2. Take off the training wheels
As they get older, then reduce or remove the app. It’s really easy for a teen to bypass them anyway. Educate your child in safe use of the internet. Otherwise, the risk is that they won’t have the skills to know what to avoid when they do have access to the unrestricted internet.
3. Avoid bedtime use
Phones should be avoided immediately before bedtime. Like a good 30 to 60 minutes before. They shouldn’t be used in the bedroom. This is because they affect the way that children sleep. The blue light emitted from them delays the release of the sleep drugs, and the vibrating/pinging/blinking of messages and notifications means that they sleep less deeply, as their brain is monitoring the phone.
If your child is in middle school and you just aren’t feeling the cell phone thing yet it’s totally fine to dig in your heels a bit. No parent should feel like it’s mandatory for their child to have a cell phone or access to social media at a certain age. A quarter of teens still do not have mobile devices, and many still have little or no access to social media. It doesn’t make you a bad parent if you choose not to get your child a cell phone. Always think of the pros and cons. Whether you choose to start your child early or start them later, it’s best to not enter into this new stage of parenting until you *both* feel ready.
Like always mi gente, don’t be shy to share your thoughts.
Hasta la proxima.
Photo credit: Insider Monkey