Every parent gets to the point where they get demands from their children about wanting a phone, probably because they have seen their peers using them, or they want to keep up with the latest trends and not miss out on some information passed online.
As much as these may be good reasons, it is important that you understand your children’s level of responsibility and maturity before you consider getting them phones and computers.
The world is fast evolving, and the advent of technology has made it almost impossible to keep up with current happenings without the use of the internet and social media via phones and other devices.
Children who are growing up in this era are surrounded by all kinds of technology, and if there are no appropriate means of control on how to use of it, it could lead to more harm than good.
As parents, it is necessary to understand your child’s level of reasoning and also consider other factors involved, such as phone and data costs, ability of the child to handle fragile objects and so on.
The fact remains that there is no particular age to determine when children should start using phones. A child of 15 years might be less prepared to own a phone because of a degree of instability in development, while a 12-year old might be a lot more ready to take on that task because he/she has shown a reasonable level of capacity.
Some children even become exposed to gadgets at a very tender age which may have more disadvantages than benefits. Regardless, at any stage of progression, a healthy amount of supervision should be enforced.
Before letting your child own a phone, it is imperative to understand the pros and cons of making the move. Some advantages include: increased learning and thought processing, early exposure to technology for future career prospects, ability to communicate with parents in case of emergency, and so on.
Disadvantages may be: High risk for developing obesity and sleeping problems due to prolonged screen time, risk for isolation, impaired development of social skills, mental issues such as depression, paranoia, etc; difficulty entertaining themselves without their devices, cyberbullying, and a host of others.
Even as you are trying to keep up with the fast-paced advancements in the world, you should also keep your eyes on your children to ensure that they are not affected negatively. Let kids be kids. If you must buy them any device, start with small gadgets such as a smart watch or child-friendly phones. These have little to no access to the internet and also helps you monitor their activities with or without their knowledge. As they grow, put effective rules regarding phone usage in place, such as no phones during meal times, switching phones off an hour before sleep, etc.
Parental control applications can also be used to limit their exposure to certain content, especially if they are using android phones.
Finally, at any level you decide to get your child a phone, it is important to be a role model to them by limiting your screen time as well. Remember, children learn by imitation, and you are their first teacher.