There’s no “magical age” that your tween is ready to own a smartphone, but these signs can help you know when the time is right.
Most parents in the digital age can remember their first smartphone very clearly. It was probably clunky, you couldn’t really use the Internet, the camera was barely worth having, and the predictive text was atrocious, That’s not the case for kids today getting their first smartphones.
In the early 2000s, teens with mobile phones were mostly texting and making phone calls (yes, actual phone calls). Nowadays, kids need to be prepared for a lot more coming at them on their phones than just those two forms of communication.
They have access to every image, app, video, website, and article on the web, and all of it is shareable at a moment’s touch of the “share” button. The big question is when are kids mature enough to have all that access at their fingertips?
The Dangers of Smartphones in Tweens and Teens
Contrary to what your kids may believe, the main reasons you’re probably leery about handing over a smartphone are their safety and mental health. Even if you trust your kids implicitly, it’s everyone else out there you don’t know that’s getting the skeptical side-eye.
Cyberbullies can have a lasting and damaging effect on your kids’ mental health. Before you give your son or daughter a smartphone, start having consistent, open conversations about what a cyberbully is. By creating open lines of communication, hopefully, they will feel comfortable reaching out to you if they are being targeted or see that someone else is.
Explicit and inappropriate content are next on the list of concerns parents have when their kids get a smartphone. Without even meaning to, kids can stumble upon websites that contain content they aren’t ready to see. When you decide your kid is ready for a phone, you can enable search engine tools like Restricted Search on YouTube and SafeSearch for Google and similar sites through Circle’s Filter feature in order to prevent that kind of content from ever reaching your kids’ phones.
Screen time dependency and addiction
Your kids aren’t with you most of the day. When they own a phone, they could be spending endless hours online without you even realizing it. That’s why screen time addiction and dependence is also top of mind for parents when considering the right time to give their kids a smartphone. The Circle Parental Controls App allows you to manage your kids’ iOS and Android devices wherever they go, even when connected to data plans or guest Wi-Fi networks. No matter where your kids are, you can rest assured they’re safe and not overdoing it.
The Benefits of a Smartphone
It’s natural for parents to be nervous about their young teens or tweens owning a smartphone. But there are benefits for both you and your kids when you decide the time is right.
1. Quick communication
The most obvious perk of your son or daughter owning a phone is the ability to easily get in touch with them wherever they go. On the flip side, if they’re ever in a bind and they need to contact you, they have their phone to call or text.
2. Learning responsibility
There’s immediate accountability built into owning a smartphone. It’s not a cheap investment. By explaining the costs associated or even having your tween chip in on the price of the phone or monthly bill, they can gain an understanding of how important it is to keep track of their phone and take care of it. Plus, they’ll get a glimpse into adulthood and how bills work.
3. Developing good habits
Whether it’s today or three years from now, your kids will eventually own a smartphone. If you’ve had productive conversations with them and feel confident they’re ready to make smart choices with that responsibility, they can start to develop independence and good habits around their own screen time that will benefit them in the future.
Indications Your Tween or Teen is Ready for a Smartphone
We’ve all heard the argument “all my friends have smartphones” before. As parents, it’s a tough one to thwart. But even if your tween’s friends all have them, every kid matures at a different rate, and who’s to say their parents are right?
There’s no magical age when kids are ready to have a smartphone. Wouldn’t that be great, though? Even still, if you’ve been actively addressing the topic of screen time and the dangers of smartphones with your son or daughter and they are receptive to your input, it may be time to give in—with the help of some parental controls.
The real matter at hand is trust. Is there mutual trust between you and your tween or teen? If you trust them, they can probably handle the responsibility of a smartphone. And if they trust you, they can come to you with any issues that may pop up. Once you get to that place, your kid (and you) are very likely ready.
Of course, no matter how trustworthy or responsible your kid is, things can show up that they aren’t expecting. That’s why parental controls matter. At the flip of a few switches within the Circle app, you can:
Enable search engine tools like SafeSearch and Restricted Search
Block certain apps to prevent your kids from using them altogether
Set time limits for particular apps or sites
Block online video games
Filter web browsers for inappropriate content
Learn more about the peace of mind Circle Parental Controls can bring once it’s time to hand over a smartphone.