What to Consider Before Getting Your Child Their First Phone

Since first becoming widely available in the early 2000s, mobile devices, aka cell phones, have revolutionized how humans communicate. They made it easy to communicate while on the go, allowing individuals to stay connected and safe in times of need. Since then, cell phones, now better known as smartphones, offer a lot more than that, giving parents a lot to think about before providing their young children with one of their own.                                       

A cell phone is a rite of passage. Below are four critical things to consider before getting your child their first phone.

Understand the need

Parenting styles vary, and so do the needs of a child. While some children are blessed to have parents and guardians who are consistently involved and readily available, others don’t have that same privilege. Kids old enough to walk to and from school, attend sports practices, and juggle multiple extracurricular activities might need a cell phone to communicate with their guardians.

Evaluate their emotional intelligence

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a person’s brain doesn’t fully develop until the mid to late 20s. Child, preteen, and teen brains undergo ongoing changes, which make them vulnerable to mental health problems. While a smartphone can help solve communication problems, it can also cause numerous problems if the child isn’t mature enough to handle the pressure that comes with social media, unrestricted internet access, and cyberbullying.

Assess recent screen time trends

If your child already has access to a digital device, whether it’s a tablet or your smartphone, evaluate the amount of time they spend on the device. Pay close attention to what apps they navigate toward and the type of content they consume. If you find that your child stays glued to social media apps and scrolls through videos for hours at a time, this could be a warning sign of what could be to come if he or she has access to a smartphone full-time. 

Be honest about your digital competency

Technology comes with many pros and cons. While smartphones can expose children and teens to inappropriate and sometimes harmful content, there are also many tools parents can lean on to protect their children from such things. Cell phone monitoring is a touchy subject in the parenting world. While not every parent feels comfortable checking their child’s screen time, it’s critical to understand that you have tools and resources at your disposal to protect their growing minds from being exposed in the first place.

If you’re debating whether you should equip your child with a phone, ask yourself whether they need it or not. Consider the pros and cons before committing.