Has your child been begging you for their first smartphone? Have they been pleading their case for months now insisting they are the “only one” without a smartphone and all their peers have one? While you don’t want to rush into a purchase of a smartphone for your child, there are some clear benefits in giving them one to use. However, you still want to be sure that they are ready for the responsibility of phone ownership, and you can trust them with it.
If you’re struggling to make the decision and aren’t sure if your child is ready for a smartphone, here are some basic signals you can watch for. If your child is displaying these signals, then there is a good chance they are ready for a smartphone.
Use Responsibility Level Not Age as a Factor
Each child matures at their rate, so using a blanket age as a determining factor can be a bit misleading. Stating that all 12-year-olds are ready to own a phone simply isn’t true. There will be those 12-year olds that are ready for it and a large portion who aren’t.
In fact, these interesting smart phone statistics state that most kids get their first smart phone at age 11. However, that does not have to be the case in your family.
Instead, experts recommend that you use their responsibility level as an indicator rather than their age.
Just how responsible is your child? Here are some questions you can ask to help you figure out how responsible they are.
- Is your child careful with all their belongings?
- Does your child constantly lose or misplace their belongings?
- Do they follow the rules you set forth?
- Does your child follow instructions well?
- Does your child show responsible judgement skills?
- Does your child seem more independent and able to do many things on their own without help?
Your answers will shed light on how responsible your child is.
Do All Their Friends Have a Smartphone?
Sure you never want to base your parenting decisions based on what all the other kids are doing, but at the same time, you don’t want your child feeling left out. Providing them with a way to chat with their friends and engage with them is important to their socialisation. There’s also the fact that if the vast majority of kids their age have a smartphone, there is probably a good argument that they too are ready for one.
Are There Times They Are Without Parental Supervision?
As your child gets a little older into their early teen years, they will likely be doing more and more without parents around. This could include getting to and from school on their own, spending a couple of hours at home alone after school until you get home from work, going to shops with friends, catching a movie with friends, and other activities outside the house. It’s normal that as a parent, you will want to check in on them and be assured that they are okay, so giving them a smartphone means you’ve got that ability to reach them any time you want.
This convenience is a two-way street, as kids can also contact you any time they want. Having a smartphone can be a safety precaution that parents can embrace.
Can They Use the Phone Safely?
Speaking of safety, you also need to know that your child can follow some basic yet important safety rules when using a smartphone. Before you hand them a device, it would be wise to go over all the rules and precautions they should follow. Don’t hesitate to also offer reminders along the way, just to be sure they are staying safe.
Some important smartphone rules for kids should include:
- Never talk to a stranger whether it be online, through text messaging, or a phone call. Kids should only be chatting with people they know in their family or friend circle. If they don’t recognize the number or the name, they need to ignore it. You should also encourage them to come to you if they are getting strange calls and/or messages.
- Kids shouldn’t use the “check-in” feature that sites and social networks offer. This gives people details about their location, and you never know who could be searching for that information.
- Talk to kids about never sharing private information. Private information includes their address, phone number, personal photos, and so forth.
- Discuss what cyberbullying is, what it looks like, why it is so hurtful and dangerous, and what they should do if they are a victim of cyberbullying.
- There is also safe internet usage in which kids should only be visiting trusted and secure websites. If your child is on the younger side then you can always use parental controls to block out specific websites.
Are They Willing to Learn How to Use the Device?
Kids love to think they know everything but obviously, this isn’t the case. So before you purchase a smartphone for them, you need to ask them if they are willing to learn how to properly use the device? Sure there will be some hands-on trial and error, but they need to at least know the basics.
Consider Choosing a SIM Only Deal
As you get a little closer to making a decision you’ll want to think about your child’s talk, text, and data needs. If you want to stick to a strict budget the best option is SIM-only deals.
The Lebara SIM only plans don’t require any credit check or the need to sign a contract. Instead, parents can pick the deal that best meets the needs of their child and know exactly what they will be paying each month. The Lebara SIM only plans start at just £5, which gives your teen 2GB of data, 1000 texts, and 1000 minutes. Its 30-day rolling plans won’t result in bill surprises and allow you to cancel anytime.
Making a Wise and Informed Decision
All of these considerations and factors will help you to figure out if your child is indeed ready for their first smartphone. It is a big step and it’s perfectly okay that parents feel a bit scared and apprehensive about giving the okay.
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