To buy or not to buy your child a cell phone- now that is the question confronting many parents. More than ever parents find themselves under pressure to buy a cell phone for their child but they may be conflicted and worry that if they do, it might interfere with their child’s school work and limit their physical and social interaction. But a phone can also be a form of necessity, even though the primary reason most kids want phones is peer pressure and not wanting to be the one kid hopelessly left out in the dark.
The right age to buy your child their first cell phone
Growing up is never easy but growing up in the electronic age is much harder. When it comes to buying your child a cell phone, there is no right or wrong answer- it is entirely up to you. The type of phone you get and the kind of features it has depend on you as well. It’s your choice as a parent and it entirely depends on your child’s maturity level and how confident you feel about her following your rules once she has it. Before you decide to buy your child a phone, consider all the possible ramifications and talk to your child about the serious responsibility that comes with owning a cell phone. Most parents consider getting their child a phone in their preteen and early teen years, usually for security reasons. Research shows that nearly 75 percent of 12 – 17 year olds have a phone in the United States. This could also be the case in South Africa considering that in most corners tweens and teens are always glued to their screens.
The pros and cons
A cell phone is the perfect form of communication while your child is away from you Having a phone in her pocket gives your child a way of staying in constant communication with you, which can be very comforting for both of you. A cell phone doesn’t come without its risk. A phone with internet and photo capabilities can open your child up to a whole new world of threats. Everything from sexting to cyber bullying can come into play when a child has unlimited access to social networking and other similar sites. In a day and age where missing and exploited children are a bigger issue than ever, it can also be a cause for concern for parents. You know your own child better than anyone, so you need to make the right choice for the two of you. You shouldn’t give her a phone unless you feel she is prepared to handle these kinds of things.
Make sure your child’s phone is secure
There are phones with limited or no Internet access and some with parental controls that allow you to monitor who your child texts. It’s best you use these features to monitor what content they consume and how much time they spend on their screen. In that way, you will have your finger on the pulse and notice if there are changes in your child’s behaviour and tackle it immediately. .