Many kids get introduced to mobile devices when they’re young. Go to any airport and you’ll see toddlers and other young children entertaining themselves with smartphone videos and games.
Letting your children own smartphones, however, is different from letting them use your phone on occasion. Try following the suggestions below when you’re thinking about when to give your kids smartphones.
Some Elementary School Students May Find Smartphones Useful
Image via Flickr by nikolys
Some parents may scoff at the idea of giving smartphones to their elementary school students. Depending on how busy your family is, however, you and your children may find smartphones useful.
For some parents, smartphones are a way to protect their children. As long as the kids have cell phones, the kids can contact their parents when they feel unsafe.
Middle School Students May Benefit From Smartphones
By the time children reach middle school, they can benefit from using educational apps. Apps such as MIT App Inventor and Lightbot teach middle and high school students how to write code. Get the Math and Mathalicious could give students the advantages they need to excel in mathematics classes.
Giving smartphones to children ages 12 to 14 can also help parents keep track of where their kids go. A GPS app enables parents to more closely control children who want to push boundaries. If your son says that he’s spending the night at his best friend’s house, you can check his phone’s location to make sure he follows through with those plans.
Parents who give preteens smartphones need to keep a close eye on their online activities. Some research shows that children will begin looking at pornography as young as 8 years old.
High School Students Who Demonstrate Responsibility Could Receive a Phone
Many high school students take their smartphones for granted. Many parents seem to think that teens who have driver’s licenses can handle responsibilities of owning smartphones, too.
Indeed, high school students can benefit from owning smartphones. At this age, teens want to become more independent and form social groups. Smartphones make those tasks easier to do.
Of course, smartphones can also help high school students earn better grades, something that every parent wants to see.
Teenagers who work part-time jobs can use their smartphones to stay connected to their parents. Instead of sitting at home and worrying about your children, you can pick up your phone to find out how they are. You and your children can also make online schedules so that you can coordinate activities. Teens lead busy lives, so give them tools that simplify communication and planning.
As a bonus, working teens can pay for their part of an affordable family plan from a carrier like T-Mobile. T-Mobile has flexible plans that enable families to easily add devices to the plans for each member of the company. The company also has one of the fastest-growing 4G LTE networks in the country. Coverage has doubled over the last two years, making T-Mobile’s network one of the fastest options nationwide.
Even responsible students with good grades and jobs don’t always make smart choices with their mobile devices. Sexting has become a popular way for high schoolers to interact with each other sexually. To some extent, this behavior may seem like the type of harmless fun that curious teens explore. When they’re sending lewd images to each other, however, they could unintentionally break felony laws against underage pornography.
Set Rules for Smartphone Use
No matter how old your children are, you need to set rules about how they use their smartphones. Make sure they understand the danger of viewing inappropriate content, including sites about pornography and drugs. Children, including teenagers, also need to understand that adults can use chatrooms and apps to find kidnap and assault victims. Activities in the virtual world can have real-world consequences.
Your children should know that you have complete control over what they do with their smartphones. You can monitor their online activities, and you can see who they’ve called and texted. Don’t let your kids have any illusion of privacy. Until they are legal adults, you own their phones.
You may be tempted to minimize and exaggerate the risks of giving mobile devices to children. When you decide what’s right for your child, consider the pros and cons. Set rules that they must follow.