Am I wrong for not wanting my kids to have a mobile phone? I feel that this is something reserved for a teenager around the ages if 16 and up.

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Edwin, TX
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Unfortunately, there’s no right answer—no perfect age for a kid to get their first phone. But there are factors to consider, like your child’s maturity level, your ability to limit screen time, as well as the risks and benefits of having a device at all. Even teens need clear limits to ensure that mobile devices don’t interfere with their developmental milestones, health, schoolwork, and social skills.

To decide whether or not your children are ready for their own phones, start by asking these 10 questions:

  1. Do they take public transportation or frequently travel on their own? If your child takes the bus to school or rides their bike to see friends, you may need a way to stay in contact and keep tabs on their whereabouts.
  2. Are they at home alone often? If a child spends significant time alone at home, having a phone gives them a quick and easy way to contact you or other family members when they need something
  3. Are they babysitting or taking on similar jobs? First, good for them! Taking on responsibilities like these indicates a level of maturity and trustworthiness (not to mention they can help pay the phone bill). Having a phone when they’re looking after someone else’s children could be practical for communication (and emergencies).
  4. Are they starting to make plans with their friends on their own? Whether it’s a camping trip or a first date, you need to trust your kids to make smart decisions. Consider whether a phone will help keep them safe or give them access to you if they might need help at any point.
  5. How do they handle setting limits on their current technology? How does your child manage their current device use? If they’ve shown the ability to create balance and boundaries, they might be ready for their own phone.
  6. Will they follow the rules you agree on together? Have they followed other ground rules you or other guardians have set on device usage in the home so far? Are you confident they’ll follow the rules you agree on for their own device?
  7. Do you trust them to come to you with problems or concerns? Open communication about online experiences is crucial. You need to trust that your child will come to you with any experiences or encounters that might be seen as red flags while using a smartphone.
  8. How often does your child lose things—especially expensive items? It’s no surprise that not all kids have great organizational skills. You might not want to buy a phone for a child that tends to break or lose things. If they’re old enough to own a phone but careless with their possessions, a cheaper smartphone with a strong case could be a compromise.
  9. How well does your child handle and understand money? Understanding the value of money is vital when it comes to owning a smartphone. In addition to looking after the phone itself, your child may be able to make in-app purchases.
  10. Are they able to handle conflict? From gaming chats to social media, the internet could expose children to conflicts and the need to resolve issues with people online.

You can read more in our article What age should you get your child a cell phone

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