Is Your Child Ready for a Smartphone? Here’s How to Tell
Smartphones play a major role in our society, and you likely have a child who’s eager to get their hands on one – but when should you get your kid a phone? And does every other kid really have one of their own? Here are the factors you may want to consider before purchasing a smartphone for your kiddo.
Consider Your Child’s Age
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to determining the proper age for a cell phone, but it can be helpful to consider the stats when making the decision. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, many parents give their children cell phones between ages 12 and 14 (or think it would be appropriate to do so). Although this information may have little bearing on what your family decides during the cell phone discussion, this data may help inform your decision.
Is your 8-year-old claiming that everyone they know has a phone? You may want to fact check – especially considering the potential effects of screen time at such a young age. If your child is begging for a phone at 17, it’s helpful to note that this claim may be true, and it may be time to reflect on what is holding you back. At the end of the day, whether your child is 9 or 19, you know them best.
Consider Your Child’s Maturity Level
Your child’s sense of responsibility may be the biggest factor to consider when having the phone discussion, but it might also be the most difficult to gauge. Before purchasing a cell phone for your child, consider whether they are mature enough to handle the responsibility.
Smartphones can become a major problem when left in the wrong hands (or immature hands, in this case). Continued access to social media can become a catalyst for mental health issues. Excessive cell phone usage can affect social skills and disrupt healthy face-to-face interactions. And unfortunately, dangerous websites, bad actors, and digital environments become just a few taps away.
One way to determine if your child is ready for a cellphone is by creating a “smartphone contract.” Outline the rules and restrictions they will have to follow beforehand, and sit down to go over it with them. If they argue or refuse to agree with any of the points, they may not have the maturity needed to handle a phone.
A few examples of rules found in these contracts include:
- I will not text or call anyone my parents have not met
- My parents will always have access to my cell phone password
- My phone will stay in my parents’ room during bedtime
- I will always answer calls and texts from my parents in a timely manner
- I will never send mean or inappropriate messages
- I will let my parents know if I receive any mean or inappropriate messages
- I will never download an app without my parents’ permission
- I will not use my camera in any inappropriate ways
- My parents will have access to all of my social media
- I will not bring my phone to the dinner table
It’s important to trust your gut instinct. If you trust your child and believe they will use their cell phone appropriately, you may already have your answer. If you have a nagging feeling that it would turn into a power struggle or lead to bigger issues down the line, it may be too soon to make the purchase.
Consider Special Circumstances
Just like age and maturity level, circumstances can vary wildly between households. In some instances, ensuring that your child has a safe way to communicate outside of the home can be incredibly helpful, and maybe even necessary.
If your child is involved in many extracurriculars, for example, a cell phone may be useful for coordinating rides and checking in between activities. For newly-licensed teenagers, equipping them with a cell phone in case of a flat tire or accident can be extremely reassuring — as long as they know to never text and drive! When making this decision, consider the special situations in which your child having a cell phone might be helpful.
Consider Your Budget
Cost is another major factor when making this decision. Does another smartphone fit comfortably into your family’s budget? Options like Rent-A-Center’s 6.5” Galaxy A13, a low-cost 5G phone from Samsung, or the Samsung Galaxy S22 may be an ideal first smartphone for a child. At Rent-A-Center, you can choose a no-contract plan that’s right for your kiddo and your budget.
Additionally, it’s important to involve your child in the financial aspects of owning a phone. Show them the ongoing costs associated with their device. Doing so may help them better understand how much of a privilege it is to own a phone – and privileges can be taken away!
When Your Child is Ready, Find Smartphones at Rent-A-Center!
Is it time for your child to join the world of smartphones? Browse our wide selection of phones online, and choose an option that works best for your child. Compare plans to get the right fit, and once you decide which smartphone and plan best aligns with your needs, order online or visit your nearest Rent-A-Center, today!