When to give your Child a cell phone

cell phone to kids- Parenting resources by ZenParent

The cell phone is definitely a great device to stay in touch with our family and sometimes, we wonder how we ever conducted our lives without these nifty devices. However, no matter how tempting the convenience of giving this device to your child, especially if they are going to many classes and you need to keep tabs on their whereabouts or they need to call you to let you know when and where to pick up etc., you have to consider the complete repercussions of giving a cell phone to your child before you make that decision.

Globally, the age at which children are getting phones is going down- children as young as 8 years of age are being given phones and are getting hooked on to games on the phone and getting into social networking. However there is no denying that giving your child a smart phone brings with it a host of issues to be dealt with.  There is no magical number or a one size that fits all for this decision. Do not promise your child that they will get a phone by X age.

cell phone right age for kids- Parenting resources by ZenParent

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It has to instead be based on need and other considerations. Consider your child’s ability to be responsible, maturity in handling social relationships, your comfort with them having unlimited access to the internet etc before you take this call. But if you think that it is a sheer communication necessity, make sure if your child:

–  goes alone to many places

– engrosses in unpredictable activities and hours that needs constant communication updates

– uses public transport which is unpredictable

If the above questions have been answered and you are convinced your child needs a phone for safety and communication reasons, consider the following before you hand over a phone:

1. Get a dumb phone: Get your child a phone with just telephone and limited texting capabilities. If it does not have a camera, it is the best thing you can get!

2. No password protection: Disallow passwords or insist that you should know the password on the phone if it is a smart phone.

right time to give a cell phone to kids- Parenting resources by ZenParent

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3. No Social media apps: Restrict all social media apps on the phone as first choice. Allow them to be only used on laptops at home.

4. Set limits on when it will be used: Assign the times when the phone will be used. It could rapidly get out of hand and become a 24/7 appendage like it is for us, adults!

5. No taking the phone to bed: Lot of kids are staying up late and texting at the cost of getting sleep. Prevent this behaviour by not allowing phones in the bedroom.

6. Use it wisely or lose it: Finally tell your child that if the phone is misused at all, he/she will promptly lose it.

So, while it can be very tempting to pass down your old smart phone as you upgrade to the next latest version on the market, hit the pause button for a second.. we adults have become phone addicts…do we want our children to get into that vicious circle ?

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