The average teenager spends a whopping 7 hours and 22 minutes per day on smartphone.
Just over half of children also get their first smartphone by age 11.
Roughly 20% of them have a phone by the tender age of 8.
If you’re a parent, you’re likely facing the difficult question of what age kids should get smartphone?
Here are a few tips to help you do so.
Get the Right Gadgets
In a lot of cases, the danger of using tech doesn’t reside with the user so much as the gadget itself.
If a device has unrestricted access to the internet, it opens up the doors for curiosity.
Harmless searches can deliver harmful results. Communication with anyone and everyone can take place without oversight.
In order to head this issue off, it’s essential that parents consider what kind of technology they’re allowing in their home.
Anything that kids can use should be considered, with a special emphasis put on devices that can be accessed when parents aren’t around.
By selecting right devices, you can allow your child to begin learning how to operate technology.
At the same time, the limited nature of that tech can keep them safe as they get accustomed to using a phone, smartwatch, or some other gadget.
Maintain Open Communication About Smartphone With Your Kids
Communication is a critical part of integrating tech into your child’s life on multiple levels.
First, there’s the obvious factor.
If you let your child have access to technology, it’s important that you know what they’re using it for.
Unmonitored use can lead to talking with strangers, cyberbullying, accessing adult content, and much more unsavory activity.
But the communication should go further than mere policing.
It should also infuse the learning process, too.
Rather than dumping tech in your child’s lap and leaving them to adjust to using it, shepherd them through the educational process.
This should start with a breakdown of the pros and cons inherent in most technology.
On the one hand, discuss with your child the fact that tech can help them communicate better, save time, improve efficiency, and be more comfortable.
On the other hand, talk through things like dependencies, laziness, privacy, health, and other concerns that come with using tech.
By maintaining a dialogue with your child, you invite them to take control of their tech use.
Rather than making it a taboo activity that they crave, you allow them to begin the process of learning to regulate things all on their own.
Establish Safety Measures Where You Can
Using the right tools and keeping your children in the loop are great starting points. However, there are also steps that you can take as a parent to safeguard your family from some of the dangers of using tech.
For instance, many streaming services create adult-level content and then offer it, unfiltered, to anyone paying for the service. All it takes is signing up for Amazon Prime free shipping and your child can technically access a huge library of streaming content offered by the retail giant.
Even something as harmless as Disney+ can give a young child access to the violent content and use of language often seen in the Marvel and Star Wars universes. And that’s just television.
A tablet or computer can also present easy paths to internet access.
If you want to avoid this potential while still letting your kids use tech, there are many tools available to help. Smart televisions come with pins to give parents control over downloads or access to certain kinds of content.
Norton AntiVirus also recommends equipping your Wi-Fi router with a firewall and accessing it with VPNs (virtual private networks) with your devices.
You can also install various filtering and screen-watching tools to guard against inappropriate content.
Parents should also consider putting passwords and passcodes on their own devices.
This protects less restricted work computers and smartphones against nosy young intruders.
Set Boundaries and Limitations on Your Kid’s Tech
Finally, don’t stop with literal passcodes and filters. It’s also a good idea to set up boundaries and limitations specific to your family’s needs.
A good example of this is creating screen limits. You can do this on many devices.
But it’s also recommended that you set broader time limits, too. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry recommends the following screen limit categories:
- Under 18 months: Only use tech for video chatting with an adult present;
- 18 months to 2 years old: Only allow educational programming with a caregiver present;
- 2-5 years old: limit non-educational content to 1 hour per weekday and 3 hours per weekend day;
- 6 and older: encourage healthy tech habits and limit any activities that include screens.
The AACAP also recommends avoiding all screens during family meals and outings. It further suggests removing screens and other kid’s tech from bedrooms half an hour to an hour before bedtime.
These recommendations are distinct but hardly Draconian. The purpose isn’t to stifle tech use, but rather to teach children how to use technology in an appropriate manner.
Introducing a child to technology can be a daunting task.
Natural habits and cravings can make it difficult at times.
However, it’s important that parents don’t either leave tech habits unaddressed or go to the opposite extreme of forbidding technology in its entirety.
Instead, caregivers should take the time to acclimate their children to healthy tech use. This can be done by setting up healthy boundaries, using kid-friendly gadgets, and utilizing safety measures. Above all, always keep those lines of communication open as you and your child continue to learn how to use the ever-evolving technology that is always at your fingertips.
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