This is a partnered post.
It seems like kids are getting younger and younger when being given their first smartphone. For a lot of you, smartphones weren’t a thing when you were growing up. Your first interaction with them was when you were an adult and already had children. So, it’s pretty weird seeing children as young as 11 or 12 walking around with iPhones!
This throws up one of the biggest parenting conundrums around – should you let your child have their own smartphone? There are multiple considerations, and it’s a tough decision to make. The only way to make it with confidence is to view both sides of the argument. That’s what this post will be about; the cases for and against letting your child have a smartphone.
You shouldn’t let your child have a smartphone because…
It’s too unsafe
This is the biggest concern for all parents as you have hardly any control over what they see or do while on their phones. True, you can do your best to manage their screen time and ensure they’re not on the phone in bed at night. Still, unless you’re hovering over their shoulder every second, you have no way of knowing who they interact with of what they’re looking at – especially if they’re smart enough to delete the history.
It makes them inactive
Obesity rates in children and teenagers have risen over the last few decades. Now, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why! With the rise in technology – particularly smartphones – it makes kids less active. It’s harder to get your children to go outside if they have everything they need in the palm of their hands. They can talk to friends, play games, watch videos, and so on. You could argue that it benefits their health to avoid giving them a smartphone until they’re slightly older and deeper into their teens.
It fuels an addiction
Smartphone addiction is a real thing that loads of people suffer from without even realizing it. How many people do you know that literally stay glued to their phones every day? If your child has a smartphone from the age of 11, you’re basically fuelling a lifelong addiction. They become too dependent on the device, and it can take over their lives.
You should let your child have a smartphone because…
It teaches them about technology
Let’s face it, we live in a world that’s dominated by technology. All the jobs your child will grow up to do will require some understanding of technology. By not giving your child a smartphone, you could stunt their development in that department. If a child grows up using a tech device, they’re more likely to catch on to other technological developments faster than most.
They’ll use your phone instead
A common middle-ground for parents is to let your child use your phone. It seems like a good idea as you can see what they’ve been doing, but it’s not ideal. All of a sudden, you have no privacy on your phone and have to make sure it’s safe for your child to use. Plus, they could take up all of your storage and iCloud data by taking photos, making videos, and downloading apps. Granted, understanding how to clear iCloud storage isn’t difficult, but it gets annoying when you have to do it every single day. It’s not good for either of you if you’re sharing a device, so it’s best to give them their own phone.
It’s a show of trust
Giving a child their own smartphone is a clear indication that you trust them to be responsible. This can work wonders for your parent-child relationship as they know you genuinely trust them. If you don’t let them have a smartphone – and all of their friends have one – it creates resentment towards you. Sometimes, you have to trust your child to do the right thing and behave accordingly.
Overall, a child will definitely benefit from having a smartphone of their own. However, you should still manage their usage when they’re young. You don’t have to be an overbearing parent that watches everything they do, but you should still have a say on some things. Set an alarm every evening where they should stop using the device. This can limit screentime, particularly before bed. You can also take a more manual role in controlling when they use their device at home or when you’re out. As far as safety goes, there are some parental control apps you can install on devices, but some parents are worried about how ethical this is. Ultimately, you have to just trust your child and educate them on some of the common dangers.