Children today are asking for cell phones at increasingly younger ages.
Even children who are barely old enough to attend school want their own cell phones. Is your child ready for a cell phone?
According to a pediatric psychology expert, the decision should be based on an analysis of the child’s needs and the family’s needs.
Some children are ready for the responsibility of cell phone “ownership” as early as age 7, while some older children may not yet be ready at 14 or 15.
Cell phones can be very expensive. Is your child ready to have the responsibility of caring for an expensive piece of equipment? Further, will they be able to use it responsibly?
Younger children can use a phone to call their parents in the case of an emergency, or when they need information, such as knowing who will be picking them up after school.
However, we can also become distracted when talking on the phone. In a younger child, this distraction is more likely, and potentially more dangerous.
For example, most adults will be aware that they are becoming distracted while walking, for example, and stop walking or stop talking. A child, on the other hand, is more likely to just keep walking, even into traffic.
Socializing via telephone is also an issue, as texting has increased in popularity. While texting may be fine for teens after school, you have to consider whether your child can resist the temptation to avoid texting when it is neither appropriate nor safe, such as when driving, or while at school. You may wish to encourage more face to face social interaction in your child.
If you do decide to allow your child to have a cell phone, consider whether or not purchasing a special phone with effective parenting is appropriate. For example, some telephones do not allow text messaging, and only allow the storage of the parents’ and other emergency telephone numbers.
You should have a clear understanding with your child about cell phone use and safety, your expectations of their behavior, and the consequences for failing to meet your expectations.