Last Friday, we asked our followers whether their kids should be given mobile phones and if yes, at what age. Many answered either 13 or 18 as the right age, which do seem like reasonable numbers, as these are the ages when they have passed a significant stage in their life (finished with primary or secondary schools).
But is that the right indicator to let your child start using her own phones? What are the main factors to consider before providing her with her own phones and how can you educate her to use phones properly?
Mobile phone for kids?
Here are some of the things you can consider and apply:
- Is she ready? Instead of looking at her age, consider if she is competent, responsible and mature enough to own a phone. Can she be responsible for her belongings and follow your rules? Also consider whether or not she actually needs one.
- Start with a basic phone. A basic phone would suffice if your intention is to stay in touch with her. This also teaches her that phones are tools and not toys. She may receive a smartphone later, if she is able to comply with all your rules.
- Set limits. Allocate screen-free times when spending time together (e.g. dinner), as well as screen-free spaces at home (e.g. bedroom). Use a prepaid plan to limit her phone usage.
- Do not answer if unknown. Teach her to ignore calls, texts, or chats from unknown numbers.
- Monitor her. Be sure to monitor her usage, but don’t go overboard. Encourage her to confide in you, especially if she receives weird texts or calls that make her feel uncomfortable.
- Do as you say. Most importantly, follow your own rules! Be a shining example of how you want her to behave, otherwise your message will lose its weight and credibility.
- Teach her netiquette. Remember to talk with her consistently about online etiquette, including treating others with respect online and offline.
- Safety is paramount. Teach her how to use her phone safely. This includes road safety, as well as how to avoid sexual predators, cyber-bullying and other online threats.
Read more: Should My Child Have a Handphone?