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When should kids get their smartphones? 

Remind your child that the smartphone is a privilege and can be revoked due to misuse. 



When should kids get their smartphones? 
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Cellphone use means more than making a call these days. At what age should kids get a phone? The topic is being increasingly debated as children get smartphones at a young age. On average, kids are getting their first smartphones around the age of 10. For some children, the possession of smartphones starts even sooner, as young as 7. 

A smartphone, after all, offers unfettered access to the internet and many pros and cons that come with it. The challenge for parents is to determine when to give a kid their very own device to absorb the benefits while sidestepping all the negativities. With internet access, children can access inappropriate content even at a young age. They can also become victims of online predators and cyberbullying.  

Needless to say, setting and maintaining reasonable boundaries around technology is now a fundamental part of parenting. 

Everywhere you look, there’s a kid with a cell phone. This isn't something to be taken lightly. The takeaway will not please cellphone makers: The longer you wait to give your child a smartphone, the better. 

This article seeks to shed light on the right/safe age to give kids smartphones.

As per some experts, 12 was the ideal age, while others said 14. All agreed later was safer because smartphones can be addictive distractions that detract from schoolwork while exposing youngsters to issues like online bullies, child predators, etc.  

On the one hand, many find it risky to let children have their own phones. On the other hand, the use of smartphones can help reinforce schooling. 

It is pertinent to mention here that the world’s richest man Bill Gates, in an interview, uncovered that he didn't let any of his children get their own phone until they were 14 years old—until they were high school age.

According to the latest research, on average, a child gets his or her first smartphone at 10.3 years old. That same study shows that by age 12, a full 50 percent of children have social media accounts (primarily Facebook and Instagram).

In a separate study published this year, Common Sense Media polled 1,240 parents and children and found 50% of the children admitted that they were addicted to their smartphones. It also found that 66% of parents felt their children used mobile devices too much, and 52% of children agreed. About 36% of parents said they argued with their children daily about device use.

Notably, there is biology to consider. The prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that controls impulse, finishes developing in the mid-20s. In other words, parents should not be surprised if their kids with smartphones lack impulse control. 

Ms. Weinberger, who wrote the smartphone and internet safety book “The Boogeyman Exists: And He’s in Your Child’s Back Pocket,” said she had surveyed 70,000 children and found that, on average, sexting began in the fifth grade, pornography consumption began when children turned 8, and pornography addiction began around age 11. 

According to data compiled by Influence Central, the average age of children getting their first smartphone is on the decline. Back in 2012, the average age was 12. In 2016, the age is 10 with some children getting their own devices as young as 7. 

Remind your child that the smartphone is a privilege and can be revoked due to misuse. 

Getting your kid their first phone is a very personal and individual decision and age isn't as important as a child's maturity level, ability to follow rules at home and school, and sense of responsibility. 

As a guardian, it’s important to recognize the common effects of technology on children to better understand how phone usage affects a child. 

Modeling appropriate cell phone use, limiting access, implementing parental control settings, and teaching children about the dangers of cyberbullying and how not to be a cyberbully can help prepare children for this responsibility.  

The bottom line here is that there are many advantages and disadvantages to smartphone use. The onus would be on guardians to weigh whether there are more pros than cons or the other way around.