Pressure from your children and society almost make it seem like it’s a requirement for your child to have a device whether a smartphone or tablet.

6yrs old? 10 yrs old? 13? – When should my child get a smartphone?

Children with Devices

Is it time to get your child a device?

Uncomfortable truths:

  1. Your child should get a smartphone when you are ready for them to be addicted to porn.
  2. It is harder to be a parent when your child has a smartphone than when they don’t
  3. Kids advance faster without excessive access to devices – until their late 20’s when their prefrontal cortex is fully developed

The benefits that can come from these devices are endless – (music, art, communications, directions, educational apps, etc) but those benefits come with a string of other potential problems. With the internet and social media at your child’s fingertips, we must consider some of the unintended consequences that come from these platforms like cyberbullying, misinformation, and pornography to name a few. So, is it time to get your child a device? Here are some items we recommend you check off before giving your child a smart device:

  • Is your child mature enough?

There is no perfect age to get your child a device. Every child develops at a different rate. Is your child easily influenced by others? If so, a device can be dangerous.  We recommend evaluating your child’s maturity and emotional intelligence (EQ) to make sure that they have the capabilities of being a responsible member of the digital world. Remember, with a phone you are handing them access to the world of scams, phishing, pornography, online harassment, grooming, etc. It is important to have regular conversations with your child.

  • Are you familiar with parental controls?

Luckily, there are some controls that can be put in place to help monitor and prevent your child from accessing certain apps and internet sites. But they only work if you use them!  Built in parental controls from Apple, Google and other manufactures can limit screen time, app downloads, explicit content, and a variety of other restrictions. Other applications such as (highly recommended) allow for additional controls across most device platforms. Be sure to check out our Parental Control Solutions for more information.

  • What apps will be allowed or not allowed?

Think TikTok is harmless?  Try inputting a “body part” that you would rather your child not see on their device – in the Search area and check the results.  Educate yourself. Know the power and information of each app your child has; some apps have hidden features or access to misinformation and explicit content that may not be obvious at first glance. Use our App Savvy Guide to help research some of the more popular apps that are being used today before allowing your child to download it.

  • Have you established screen time limits?

Set both physical and digital device boundaries for your child. Knowing the effects of screen time on the development of children, it is a good idea to limit the time that they can spend on their device. Establish down time from devices especially before bed and during meals. Visit our Device Use page for more ideas and information on digital parenting guidance.

  • Are you willing to continuously keep updating / evaluating your child’s device settings, usage?

Handing your child a device is only the beginning.  It is actually much easier to be a Parent by keeping your child off devices than it is to give them a device and deal with everything that comes as a result of that decision.

  • Have you made a device agreement with your child?

Finally, if you are ready to move forward consider writing out a contract with your child or using our Parent Child Device Agreement. This will ensure that you have a set of rules and boundaries with your child as they take another step into the digital world.

Sure, there is a lot of upside that can come from being a good digital citizen and device user. Giving your child a device gives them the ability to stay informed, access new support groups, collaborate with others, and an endless amount of educational information. It is important to remember the negative potential that comes from giving your child a device can be quite overwhelming. This is more than deciding if you want to head over to your local wireless provider and shell out a few hundred dollars to have a phone.  When it comes down to deciding if your child is ready for a device, it is important to check the boxes above to help consider all the implications.

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