We asked Reagan Vermillion and Amy Hurlburt, licensed professional counselors at The Well House in Southlake, to weigh in on this burning parenting question: What’s an appropriate age to give my child a cell phone?
While cell phones offer a great deal of convenience and connection, not all children are ready for the responsibility that comes with technology ownership. There are no strict age guidelines; instead, we can look to the child’s maturity when making the decision. Here are five questions to help you know when your child is ready for a cell phone:
1) Why does my child need a cell phone? There are a lot of creative technology options out there beyond the traditional cell phone. Search for the right device for your child. Tip: ‘Because everyone else has one’ is probably not a great reason to buy a phone for your child.
2) How responsible is my child? Do they lose things easily? How do you want to handle replacement or repair?
3) How impulsive is my child? Will they purchase games at will? Will they post and share inappropriate pictures? Tip: Set expectations before giving your child a device. Get familiar with the various ways to safeguard the device from unwanted purchases and experiences.
4) Does my child understand how to safely use the internet? Do you understand how to install safeguards on the device? This is an ever-changing landscape. School resource officers are a great resource for parents who want to know the most current best practices.
5) How much control do I need to have over the device? Technology ownership can be a continuum. For example, you can give limited access to a cell phone (maybe when they are at sports practice), or you could restrict access based on academic or behavioral expectations. The idea is that it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing when it comes to cell phone ownership.”
This article was originally published in October 2021.
Photos courtesy of The Well House