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When should your child get a mobile phone?

1 expert and 1 parent have answered

Heidi Scrimgeour writer
Heidi Scrimgeour Freelance scribe. Mother x2. County Antrim

It’s rare to see a kid on the bus who isn’t glued to the handset clutched in their small hands. Thing is, according to advice from the higher ups, that probably shouldn’t be the case.

The UK Chief Medical Officer warns children under 16 should only use mobiles for short, essential calls, and professors at Harvard University reckon they’re more likely to succeed if they don’t keep a phone in their room.

A quick straw poll found many parents agree that giving a child a mobile phone when they start secondary school (aged 11) is a sensible step, especially if they’re going to be travelling to school on their own. In fact, that’s about the average age in the US, but in the UK most children get their first phone at a far younger eight-years-old.

So am I wrong to deny my seven-year-old son’s plea for a phone of his own? Well, he certainly thinks so. I believe there are two things to bear in mind when deciding if your child’s ready for their first phone: firstly, is there a legimitate reason they need one (‘cos all their friends have got one doesn’t count); secondly, can they understand and handle the risks and responsibility?

My son is rarely out of my sight, except when he’s school – where phones are banned. Aside from the unnecessary expense, giving him a phone would also mean introducing him to concepts like cyberbullying. So whilst I look forward to the days when children’s apps and sticky fingerprints don’t clog up my phone and cover the screen, I’d like him to keep his youthful innocence and naivety for a little while longer. At least until he reaches double figures.

1 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
expert answer
Andrew Weekes expert
Andrew Weekes Techy engineer, father of two. Sevenoaks, GB
Technology expert

It depends, a mobile phone is so much more than a device for making phone calls these days, in fact I think all of our phones spend very little time actually making phone calls and far more doing internet-related activities.

My 9 year old has a mobile, but it's never used for calls and he never takes it to school; it's essentially a gaming device he uses with the rest of the family to play GPS-based games, the current favourite being Ingress.

It did feel a bit odd buying a smartphone for a 9 year old, but I'd much prefer that he's out in the fresh air walking miles on end with us, playing geo-location based games, than be stuck on a PC or tablet at home.

It's also notable that even games that he might play on the device whilst sat at home, are far cheaper than the alternatives for the big name gaming consoles, for me that's a win-win!

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Experience 2 years ago

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