When it comes to cell phones for kids, there's a lot that goes into the decision. And for parents, the pressure to get one for their young ones grows with every passing day. The kid and cell phone connection is here to stay, but what's a parent supposed to do?
According to Nationwide Children’s, a blog written by pediatricians, there’s no one right answer for all children—and, to make your own decision, you should weigh the benefits and risks.
Cell Phones For Kids: Safety
Family Orbit shares several of these benefits, including how cell phones can help children to stay safe. Using GPS-tracking apps can help parents to keep track of where their children are and to help their kids if they get lost. Plus, children can use their phones to call for help, or, with some cell phones, children can trigger an emergency alarm.
Plus, when you need to contact your child—or you want them to check in with you—they’ve got the device right at hand to make that happen. Cell phones for kids allow them to stay in touch with grandparents and other relatives as well as friends. In the days of COVID, when fewer in-person events have taken place, phones provide ways for children to connect.
Cell Phones For Kids: Technology
Here’s another crucial benefit. Today’s world is filled with technology, and it’s important for children to learn how to navigate devices. They’ll use more technology in school—and, later, in work—than previous generations did.
Maturity Is A Big Factor
Nationwide Children’s, meanwhile, adds some cautions. You’ll want to make sure that your child is responsible enough to manage a cell phone. Will they lose the phone? Will they browse YouTube videos instead of doing homework?
Children who get a cell phone will need to understand calling and texting etiquette, have context about what’s appropriate on social media, and so forth. Research has shown that children with cell phones are more vulnerable to cyberbullying: both on the receiving and giving end. Here’s more information about online bullying.
Establishing Rules For The Cellphone
When getting cell phones for kids, parents will also want to establish clear rules from the start. Care.com provides several of them, which include teaching them internet safety rules. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides plenty of helpful information on the subject for parents to read and share in age-appropriate ways with their children.
You can monitor your children’s phones through specially designed apps, and here are the ones that PCMag says are the best (with the list updated for 2022). You can set age restrictions on the devices, which puts boundaries on the apps that children can add or delete on the device. Encourage your children to think before posting or responding to messages and be clear that no cyberbullying is allowed. Tell them that, if they feel uncomfortable with the communications they receive, they should let you know as soon as possible.
Balance The Benefits and Risks
Cell phones for kids clearly come with plenty of benefits and, if risks are mitigated well, this can be a positive use of technology in your home. Considering both risks and benefits will allow you to decide when cell phone usage is right for your children. Safewise.com provides additional insights, including what cell phones are best for children. The site also recommended a contract between you and your child that covers your expectations for them and the consequences when not upheld.
Finally, when it comes to cell phone usage, lead by example—demonstrating, for example, healthy boundaries with social media use.