Considering getting your child their first smartphone? Whether it’s a milestone or they’re at that appropriate age to have their own, there are many things to consider when it comes to purchasing your child’s first cell phone. Giving your child their own phone can be very advantageous. But along with instant communication and access to educational sources, it can open up a world of digital dangers.
Children have been connected to digital devices for years. Whether it was playing on a tablet or using a computer for schoolwork, they have been introduced to the internet for a long time now. For parents, it can be hard to justify the decision to buy their child their first cell phone when so many worries come to mind – what is the right age to have your own phone? Will it affect their school performance? How can I monitor them? Will this expose them to a world of cyberbullying and predators?
According to Common Sense Media, smartphone use in children has increased drastically throughout the years. In 2015, only 11% of eight-year-olds owned a smartphone, which spiked to 19% in 2019. There’s no denying it – cellphones are prevalent in children lives, with some moms and dads embracing it and others concerned.
Protecting Your Child
There is no magic number. A child’s age isn’t as important as their maturity level. As a parent, it is important to prepare your child for this responsibility. From social media apps to internet access, this can be an overwhelming for many parents who just want to keep their kids safe. Here are some topics to address when giving your child their first smartphone:
- Dangers of cyberbullying: Giving your child a cellphone can potentially increase the likelihood of cyberbullying, either as a victim or a bully themselves. Take proactive measures to limit your child’s involvement in cyberbullying and protect their overall well-being by establishing cellphone ownership and limit their use.
- Staying safe from online predators: Using certain apps or websites can run the risk of your child innocently engaging with a predator. Discuss with your child the online dangers that can arise from having a cellphone and take an active role in their online activities. This can include implementing parental controls, and online tools that can block access to harmful sites.
- Mental health: We are all aware of the affects smartphones and social media use can have on a child’s mental health. Excessive online usage can cause anxiety and depression, toxic social media can lead to bullying, and so much more. As parents, it is important to take notice of your child’s behaviours and moods in order to keep them safe while prioritizing their mental and physical well-being.
Making these decisions can be a difficult adjustment. Helping your child avoid the dangers of smartphone usage requires tools and healthy conversations that will keep discussions open and honest. Speak with a solution expert to learn more about Netsweeper’s parental controls, to see how we can help monitor your child’s online access. For additional tips, check out these blog posts 👇