It is worth planning before getting your child a phone. It might be OK to surprise THEM, but it shouldn’t be spontaneous. It might be better to plan this with them, and let something else be a surprise. That way you can set expectations in advance.
A phone is a BIG deal. You’re giving them the whole world in their pocket. You’re giving everyone access to your kid who has their contact info, you’re giving your kid access to the internet, which we know has some things on it that you don’t necessarily want young kids to have access to. And even for big kids, we want to have those tough conversations about content, pornography, etc.
Plus a phone can very distracting to carry around. Especially at school. Or doing homework.
So it’s worth really planning this decision out.
I was on Wake Up with Cheddar TV News talking with hosts Alicia Quarles and Shannon LaNier about the challenges of helping kids prepare for this big transition.
What other factors can help parents decide if kids are ready for a phone?
You’re looking for independence milestones in your child or tween.
- Can they walk to school independently?
- Can they get some chores done independently?
- Can they do their homework independently without a ton of oversight,
Would you leave them to watch another kid for a few minutes? An hour?If they can’t do anything yet for themselves, then they probably may not be ready for their own phone. Maybe you want them communication device that they can have some occasional access to for now. You don’t need to go from having nothing to having a smartphone that they have 24/7 access to.
Also, how do they act in their friendships
- Are they impulsive?
- Do they blow up at people?
- Can they acknowledge and repair mistakes?A phone can be a way of a permanent record of those challenges… So it’s not ideal to give a kid a phone if they’re still working out some some really crucial social skills. Even once they get a phone, it’s worth working with them on repair for the mistakes we all make at some point.
Parents can look for those independence milestones, and start to work on practicing for the skills you want to see your child mastering, before you get them a phone.
On the other hand, here are some signs your child might not be ready just yet.
Good luck! This is an important decision.