This post has been a discussion in our office here at Everything Tech and you have probably had it with your friends, parents or even the debate itself with your little ones, what age should you give your child their own mobile phone or tablet?
On average children get their first mobile phone at the age of eight according to a survey by the charity Personal Finance Education Group and more than a third of children (35%) own a mobile by the time they are that age.
Development of mobile phones has boomed in the past 15+ years from Motorola flip phones to Nokia ‘bricks’ to what we have today, the amazing smart phones such as Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. These smart phones hold gigabytes of data, apps and access to the internet.
Phones really have come far over such a short time! I remember my mum had a Motorola flip phone when I was little in the early 2000’s and to take a photograph on her mobile the camera was separate to the phone and you attached it through the charging port.
Those days are now far far away. Nearly every mobile phone has a camera or even two! We live in an age where the whole world is accessible through mobile phones, not just by calling and texting but through the Internet, Social Media and Games.
Some would argue that giving your child a mobile phone is great if they’re at an age where they go out with their friends. Why wouldn’t you give them a device that allows you to keep in contact with them at all times? However, why does this device have to be a smart phone, can the mobile phone not be just one that is purely for calls and texts? With no internet or apps.
Of course in the real word it isn’t that simple they want the newest of new, and that’s not a want it’s a need.
Opposing arguments are such beliefs that smart phones kill our children’s childhoods because they stop them from socializing naturally in person and keep them indoors, online which then prohibits them learning key social skills they will need growing up when in situations where they have to communicate verbally not virtually. For example if you get in a car with your children you find that everybody is on their phone, as if they find it awkward to have a conversation.
There is also arguments that smart phones opens the doors to threats such as cyberbullying, sexting and harmful internet use. I believe that these threats are mainly focused around older children but who are yet still too young to be accessing such content.
You may on the other hand argue that by not giving your child access to a mobile phone you exclude them form their peers in school which could then equally lead to bullying through being ‘different’ and excluded from what their friends are doing.
I, myself believe that children must encounter smart phones at some point as we can’t deny our children of the technology that they will inevitably rely on throughout their lives for job’s, security etc.
It is fact that the majority of children do receive their first mobile phone at the age of eight do you think that is too young? When I think of an eight year old having a smart phone I assume they would use it for games. So I would say that it isn’t too young at all as digital games is something that near enough every child has played since the first video game console in 1972!
But in fact a study by Elizabeth L. Englander shows that children at the age of eight with mobile phones are ALL online and over 20% report experiencing problems with peers online such as cyberbullying.
That is a terrifying statistic. So does that make you a bad parent for exposing your child to that treatment? Or does it just mean that parents need to be more well informed of the dangers there is online their children face and to be aware of what exactly their children are doing online, who they are talking to, what sites they are visiting and what messages they are receiving?
Overall there are both benefits and negatives to giving your young child a smart mobile phone;
Benefit’s such as being able to keep in contact with your child at all times and negatives are such that the online world is so open, secretive and in all uncontrollable.
To conclude there is no definite appropriate age for you to give your children a mobile phone there are so many factors to each individual child some are more mature and responsible earlier than others. I think the answer to what age you should give your child a smart phone is entirely dependent on you and your child.
What’s your opinion?
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