Nowadays, every parent will find themselves struggling with the issue of giving their kids a smartphone at one point or another. Even when these gadgets have become an essential tool for our everyday life, trying to balance the advantages and disadvantages of such useful tools can be quite difficult. Parents need to take the time to carefully consider when to get one for their kids, and how they could benefit from having a smartphone. Asking ourselves whether our kids really need one or not can be a great first step to take, yet there are other aspects we should keep in mind.
As we mentioned before, the very first step to take is to ask ourselves whether our kids really need to have a smartphone or if they only want one because “everyone else has one”. It is important to be able to make a clear distinction between wanting a smartphone and actually needing one. We must remember that once our kid has their very first smartphone, taking it back will be really difficult and could lead to unnecessary conflicts. This, of course, will depend on the age of our kid and the purpose a smartphone will serve, including communication, school assignments, entertainment, etc.
Thinking of the purpose and the benefits it’ll bring to our kid giving them their first smartphone will help us decide when is the right time to give them one. This is because, as of today, there is no perfect age, and all the studies and research papers that work on this matter have yet to come to a generally accepted result. We have all known kids who can be very responsible and trusted when using a smartphone, as well as adults who really can’t be trusted with one. The same happens with other benefits, such as driving, and whether our children give their phones responsible use or not depends on the rules and boundaries that we set.
If we decide it is time for our kids to have a smartphone, we need to consider what the rules of use will be, what we expect from them, and what limitations there will be. Now, before setting out the rules for them, we need to remember this must be a dialogue and not an imposition. Listening to what they have to say about the matter can help us get a deeper insight into their perspective. This way, we will get to an agreement with them, and both us and our kids will know what to expect from each other and what the consequences of misuse might be.
Another important consideration we might want to keep in mind is lending the phone to our kids instead of giving it to them. Having them understand that the phone is not theirs to keep will help us make sure the rules of use are being followed. Also, it will work as a reminder that their access to a smartphone is based on their responsible use of such a tool. This way, they will be more aware of the amount of time they can spend using it, and give them time to work on school projects, to practice a hobby or a leisure activity, and to develop interpersonal relationships in real life.