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5 Ways to Know If Your Child is Ready for Their First Phone
All the way back in 2013, uSwitch.com did a survey where they discovered that nearly one in 10 kids get their first mobile phone by the time they turn the ripe old age of five. If that seems very young, you’ll be relieved to know that the average age for a first phone was a more reassuring 11.
While plenty of toddlers are unexpectedly adept at navigating the basics of a phone screen, how do you know when your child is really ready for their first phone?
Is it a case of them being ready once they ask for one; when they head off to school; or when they’re a bit older and will be able to finance it themselves with pocket money or odd jobs?
Read on for five ways you’ll know if your child is ready for their first phone.
1. They’ll actually use the phone to communicate with you or their friends
When you go by the sweet aisle in the supermarket, a young child is likely to pitch a fit if they don’t get the sweets they really want. And while your child might be beyond the tantrum throwing phase, they’ll still be just as likely to want things because they’re shiny.
Plenty of kids have seen Mum and Dad on the phone and grasped that they’re useful objects. However, liking the idea of their own phone doesn’t mean you should get one for them.
If your child has a habit of hanging out with friends at the weekend or playing on the estate after school, and you often think how handy it’d be to be able to text them that dinner is nearly ready, a phone could be on the cards.
If they’re younger and you want to be able to contact them in an emergency, you can get them a ‘kiddie phone’ or a starter phone. The Nokia 100 is a great starter phone, as it’s cheap, cheerful, and durable.
2. Your child is responsible and mature
Depending on the child, the idea of ‘responsibility’ differs hugely. The big questions are around common sense: does your child have a habit of misplacing their things? Do they get mad while playing computer games and smack the controller off the wall? Do they forget to do their chores or often leave their PE kit behind in the gym?
If they’re genuinely good at looking after their things, any money they have, and doing their homework, they’re probably responsible enough for a phone.
3. Your child understands the internet
A smartphone puts the internet in your child’s pocket. If your child is too young for the internet at home, or without supervision, a smartphone is too advanced for them. If they’re savvy with tech, and know their way around the family computer, phone shopping could be on the agenda.
4. You’ve had a serious chat about the dangers of the internet
As we said above, buying a smartphone for your child is like putting a computer in their pocket. With mobile data and Wi-Fi, your child could be constantly connected to the internet, various apps, and social media accounts—and all with the push of a couple of buttons.
As much as the internet is an excellent place for creativity and socialising, it’s also a hotbed for inappropriate content. Before you buy your child a phone, you’ll need to sit them down and have a serious talk with them about internet safety.
If you can make the lesson fun, your kids will learn much more.
5. Your child understands money
Now, no one expects your little one to be able to grasp mortgages and budgeting on a spreadsheet, but understanding money is an important step towards owning a phone—especially a smartphone, which can be a black hole for data charges and expensive add-ons for games and apps.
If your child is responsible with their pocket money or even baby-sits or does small jobs for the neighbours to earn a few pounds, they’ve likely grasped the basics of financing and the way of the world.
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