Full Guide About What Age Should a Child Get a Smartphone: Pros-Cons And Alternatives
What Age Should a Child Get a Smartphone: Want to get your child a smartphone but don’t know the right age? Is there any alternative to it? Today we will discuss some such questions. While giving smartphones to children, you should take care of some things. Let’s know their details.
The trend of smartphones among children has increased a lot. Especially during the Coronavirus epidemic, children had become dependent on smartphones from studies to gaming. Smartphone in the hands of children introduces them to a new world. In such a situation, many people think about when and which phone should be given to the children.
A smartphone is becoming the need of today’s era. It has many advantages as well as many disadvantages. In the beginning, parents give smartphones to keep the children engaged, but later their addiction becomes a big problem for children. At the same time, a question also arises that at what age children should be given smartphones.
The Internet has become a big necessity in today’s era. Smartphones, the internet, and social media connect you to a world that is a sea of all kinds of information. Here you get all the details including videos, articles, and photos related to each word.
At what age should children be given phones?
According to research by Common Sense Media, 53 percent of children up to the age of 11 have a smartphone. At the same time, at the age of 12, this figure increases to 69 percent. That is, by looking at the age gap of just one year, you can understand at what age most children are getting smartphones.
As compared to the year 2015, in 2019, about 26 percent of children of the age of 9 years have a smartphone in their hands. Should these children be left free in the internet world? You have to decide this as a parent. However, if you want, you can control the content by turning on the parental control setting on the smartphone.
Disadvantages of giving phones to children early
Alters brain development: On average, 8- to 12-year-olds in the US spend 4 hours and 44 minutes per day with screens (Victoria & Michael, 2019). 31% of this time is spent on mobile gaming. Spending too much time on the digital screen affects the brain development of the child. For starters, extended screen time can physically change the brain. This results in premature thinning of the cortex, leading to diminished cognitive skills (National Institutes of Health, 2018).
Disrupts social skill development: If a child spends more time on a smartphone than interacting with humans, their social skill development will be affected (Scientific American, 2015). It can also inhibit the development of critical thinking, impulse control, and problem-solving skills.
Introduces kids to the dark world of the web: Smartphones provide unlimited access to the Internet. When children are allowed to use them unsupervised they can easily be redirected to inappropriate content without parental knowledge. There is a potential risk of nudity and violence, all of which could haunt the child in later life. Children may also access sites that promote an excessive reliance on peer verification, thus creating a path for cyberbullying which, in turn, causes children to feel rejected or excluded.
Technology addiction at a young age: Too much screen time can cause overstimulation and lead to the production of adrenaline and dopamine, which makes them highly addictive (Dresp-Langley, 2020). Technology addiction leads to depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide (Abi-Jude, Naylor, & Pignatiello, 2020). It also causes children to have less concentration in class and can greatly undermine family relationships.
Reasons why kids should have phones
Tracking them is easy: One of the cool things about smartphones is that they come with GPS apps or software. These solutions help parents keep tabs on their kids’ activities. In fact, the US 33% of parents in the U.S. say they use a smartphone to track their children’s location (Pew Research Center, 2020). The apps can also help children find their way back home if they get lost or are in dangerous situations.
Helps to keep pace with technology: Kids need to be tech-savvy to be successful in school and the jobs of the future. Giving them a smartphone at a young age helps them interact with technology on a regular basis. It gets them comfortable with technology and gives them the skills they need to excel even as technology advances.
Helps create lasting memories: Smartphones come with powerful front and rear cameras. These devices give the kids a chance to take pictures of things, hence creating beautiful memories. Especially, when the kid is on a vacation with other family members he will capture every moment in pictures and keep them forever.
Help them with their education: Smartphones are not just for entertainment or for kids to communicate with parents and connect with friends. They are also beneficial academically. In fact, 53% of parents in the US give their children a smartphone to help them with their education. If kids are learning from home, for example during today’s pandemic, they can download some of the best educational apps for kids. With these apps, kids can start learning a new language, improving their math skills, and more.
How to control children’s mobile phone usage
Keep your kid busy: With the shrinking play spaces, more and more kids are forced to stay indoors. In such a situation, children spend their time playing with toys. Some people also get attached to gadgets like smartphones, which also double up as entertainment devices. To prevent this from happening, take your child to a park or a nearby playground to spend time running and playing. If that is not an option, enroll him in a neighborhood sports club, or take him on regular walks to explore the wonders of nature. A growing awareness of the environment can spark their curiosity and engage their imagination.
Restrict the usage: Since smartphones are now an inseparable part of our lives, it is difficult to keep them away from kids. Sooner or later, your child may start using your mobile phone, but you would not want him to be attached to the device. Therefore, explain to your child that he can use your smartphone, provided you have discussed the rules for its use. Discourage its use at mealtimes, study hours, bedtime, or when it is time to go outside and play.
Talk to your kid: The vibrant colors and animations seen on the smartphone screen are appealing to kids. Talk to your child about what he likes to watch. Have him describe the characters, and relate the story. When it’s time to get off the phone, enhance the experience by acting out a story.
Set a password: It is not always possible for you to be around your child to prevent him from using the smartphone. In such a situation, technology can come to your rescue. Set a password on your phone so your child can’t access it when you’re away.
Give a good example: Many parents spend a lot of time on their smartphones. In such cases, asking children not to use mobile may not help, as they are bound to follow in the footsteps of their parents. So, be a good role model for your child by limiting the use of your mobile phone. However, if your profession demands high mobile usage, explain this to your child.
Bond with your child: Although most parents lead very busy lives, it is important to find time to bond with children. Playing board games or involving your child in activities like cooking or gardening will make him feel valued and useful. In this way, she will stop using the smartphone to avoid loneliness. You can encourage your child to pursue a hobby like doing simple science experiments, listening to music, reading, creative writing, art, or painting.
Do you have alternatives?
On the other hand, if the smartphone is not necessary, then you can try some of its alternatives. If you want, you can also give featured phones to children. At the same time, some such phones also come into the market, which are specially designed for children. You can also give such handsets to children as the first phone.
At the same time, while giving the first smartphone to the children, you should take care of some things. You should give information to your children on many topics like cyberbullying, digital literacy, and social media.
They should be prepared before sending them to the internet world. While giving a smartphone to your children, put parental control on the phone, so that filtered content will reach them.