When Should You Give Your Child a Cell Phone?

Caucasian preteen girl sitting on floor talking on cell phone.

In this digital age, kids are getting access to technology earlier and earlier – and it’s making things more difficult for parents when it comes to setting limits and feeling confident in our decisions.

When SHOULD you give your children access to their own technology, especially a mobile phone?

Well, there is no easy answer. No specific age. It really depends on circumstances.

But here are 3 things you might consider when making that decision for your family:

1. Does “not” having a cell phone begin to differentiate your child from his/her peers? I don’t mean that you do it because everyone else is doing it. But if it’s preventing your child from being socially engaged, that is a consideration. If your child is integrated well, then it’s not a problem. If your child is struggling socially, it might be an access point for better engagement with peers. Note the word: MIGHT.

2. IS a cell phone a terrific opportunity to begin to foster greater independence and responsibility? If you can effectively put some systems and agreements into place, it can teach a wide number of skills and be a great way to help your child learn accountability. Is your child ready for that responsibility and accountability? Are you?

3. Will it improve YOUR communication with your child, or help you manage the daily struggles and challenges? If you love technology and can imagine sharing tools and games, then you can teach your child responsibility through a shared experience and playfully step up your communication with your child. But if you hate your cell phone, and you haven’t found yourself wishing your child had one just to make your life easier, then you might want to wait until you can see the benefit. Otherwise, resentment could build – and that only breeds disappointment for everyone.

P.S. Please read these Social Media Safety Tips for children of all ages!

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