Today, children are asking for a mobile phone earlier than expected. Especially if their friends own one. Should I give in? The use of a smartphone by children is not insignificant. Now, these terminals have access to the internet and offer many applications, which are not all intended for a young audience.
So what is the ideal age to have a cell phone?
Sooner or later, your child will ask you for a cell phone, and this milestone is happening earlier now, often even before the onset of adolescence!
So, at what age should your child get their first cellphone?
What is the average age?
If the cell phone was obtained later barely a decade ago, that is to say when adolescence was well underway, the average age for obtaining its first cell phone is now 12 years, with a number not negligible number of children who obtain a telephone from the age of 10.
Increasingly, this request therefore occurs in primary school and sometimes even before the 6th year!
Some parents who had never asked themselves the question are now flabbergasted when they find that the majority of children in an elementary class (Primary 5 to JSS1) already have a cell phone as well as several social network accounts.
Although the children will be sensitive to this peer pressure and will wish to belong to this “gang”, it is up to the parents to think carefully and decide whether the children should “do like everyone else” or not.
The addictive potential of smart phones (as proven by the parents’ generation, who are still on it!) as well as the mental health impact of social media should never be overlooked, especially in the case of very young children.
Parents shouldn’t worry about their kids missing out or getting rejected if they don’t have a phone. They will survive just fine!
To buy or not to buy?
Will you have to buy him one, yes or no? There is no universal answer to this question. The decision you make will be personal and depends on many factors such as your budget, your coaching style, the confidence you have in your child.
If you feel that your son or daughter is dangerously approaching the stage where he will “absolutely” need a cell phone, here are some things to think about to help you in your decision-making process.
First, when people see teenagers with handheld cellphones, they often only see the downsides. They are not 100% wrong… it is true that there are! Here are a few.
- Gap between the adolescent and his family
People often judge today’s teens by saying that this generation is so addicted to new technologies that they always have their noses glued to a screen and they lose their social skills with the real people around them.
This judgment may be a bit exaggerated, but it is all the same what is likely to happen to a young person whose parents do not sufficiently supervise the use of cell phones or any other electronic “baby”.
Ironically, even though the cell phone is a communication tool, it can cut off direct, human communication between members of the same family when everyone is absorbed by their own screen!
- Cheating and bullying
You also have to think about the risk of cell phones becoming a distraction during class, a cheating tool during exams, or a way to intimidate or be intimidated by other students.
Above all, we must not forget that approximately one child and teenager out of three suffers from cyber-bullying, which is saying something!
- Sometimes overspending
Some teenagers who buy a cell phone on their own (without being accompanied by a parent when shopping for a device and a plan) fail to read the fine print of a contract and see their monthly bill explode.
But we must not forget that some parents also see advantages in their teenager being easily reachable. Note that all of its benefits relate to older, more independent teens, not tweens or even children altogether.
- Car Safety
When he (or one of his friends) is old enough to drive, he can easily reach you, a towing service or the emergency services if he has an accident, a flat tire or a breakdown.
- Safety in the city
If your teen goes out on the town and realizes they’re in a dangerous place or situation, they can quickly come to you or call a taxi.
- Peace of mind for parents
Your teenager’s cell phone can become an excellent tool for parental supervision when he goes out with his friends and plans a lot of trips. You can reach him if you are worried, and he can call you to let you know that he is changing location or that he will be late.
If you say no.
So, if you refuse his request, rest assured, he will survive this refusal, and it will probably avoid some inconvenience.
You also have a few arguments in hand, other than budgetary reasons, to explain to him why he will have to wait a few more months or a few years before getting his device.
Explain to him that it’s only a postponement, while waiting for X factors to occur (a given age, a first student job, the arrival in high school, etc.)
If you say yes.
If you say yes, make sure you take the necessary steps to take advantage of all the advantages of your teenager having a cell phone, without having to experience the inconveniences.
Accompany him in shopping for his device and plan, to make sure he gets what he really needs. This is an opportunity to teach him to make an acquisition thoughtfully rather than impulsively, which can serve him for the rest of his life.
To prevent him from starting life with bad credit if he fails to pay a few bills, sign the contract for him, and if he has a small income, ask him to pay you his bill every month.
To make him responsible and supervise him with this new device, you can make him an in-house contract in which many details will be provided.
The In-between Solution
The short-term solution may lie somewhere in between: for example, getting a pre-teen a phone that doesn’t include data.
Apart from Wifi as he will have at home, he will therefore not have access to the Internet. But he will still be able to make calls or receive text messages, which retains the main aspect of being able to reach him.
The subscription to the various social networks should wait as long as possible. At home, it is also important to configure the Wi-Fi correctly, either to block certain sites and/or to turn off Internet access from a certain time in the evening.