When Should I Get My Kid a Phone?
To all the parents out there who worry that their 8-14-year-old isn’t ready for their first phone, we agree! There are some dangers that arise when kids get a smartphone too early.
With that said, your kid will need one someday. So how can you tell when it’s time?
How to Know Whether Your Kid Is Ready for Their First Phone
It’s a challenge for every parent to decide whether its time to buy that first kids phone. Here are some factors we used to tell when our own kids were ready for the responsibility:
A smartphone symbolizes trust. When you hand your son or daughter their first phone, you’re counting on them to use it constructively.
Look for signs that your kid is ready. Do they proactively do their chores or do you have to remind them? Do they use their other devices appropriately or do you find yourself regularly enforcing the rules?
Performance at School
A smartphone can be a great tool for research and group projects, but it can also get in the way of schoolwork. Consider your kid’s grades, behavior, and homework habits: If they have a 4.0 GPA and no discipline issues, they may well be ready for their first phone.
For kids who struggle with ADHD, anxiety, or other mental health issues, a smartphone might make things worse. Have a conversation: What’s really going on in your kid’s head? If you’re on the fence, postpone your purchase and have the conversation again in a few months. If things are really rocky, reach out to a mental health professional.
Age should never be the deciding factor when you’re considering getting your kid their first phone, but it deserves some consideration. Teens are on the move more than younger kids and they have had a lot more experience with other digital devices. Although there’s no magic number, most parents believe kids are ready for their first phone in middle school or high school.
Smartphone Risks to Consider
Negative Content Exposure
One of the most frightening things a parent faces when allowing their child to have a smartphone is exposure to content that they may not want them to see. From social media accounts to access to the Dark Web, an internet-enabled smartphone opens up parts of the world to your kids that they really shouldn’t see.
Even though sites like Instagram state that only those 13 and older can have accounts, we all know that kids—with help from their friends or a YouTube video—can figure out how to get an account anyway. From there, there are no filters on what they can see and learn about as well as who they can interact with. A shocking number of kids are also sharing adult content through “sexting.”
One in three kids have experienced cyberbullying. Bullies can be classmates at school or strangers online. Cyberbullying includes harassing, name-calling, and making fun of kids, and it often happens on social media. All of these interactions can put your kids at risk in terms of their mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Excessive Screen Time
Kids spend hours more per day using screens than they should be. According to Common Sense Media, kids aged 8-12 spend just under five hours per day in front of screens, while teens average nearly seven and a half hours per day. Neither figure, notably, includes time spent using screens for school or homework.
Spending so much time on screens can cause kids to miss out on many of the things that make childhood fun, including playing outdoors and face time with other kids. Missing these activities may impact social development later on, including making it difficult for kids to form and maintain interpersonal relationships.
Too much screen time can also take away from quality time that could be spent on school work, hobby and skill development, and other extracurricular activities. It also can reduce the amount of sleep kids get, which further interferes with concentration and mood.
A Solution For Smartphones and Kids
When it was time for the first kids phone, we had all those concerns in mind. That’s what led us to create the Gabb Phone™, which is built with a few parental priorities in mind:
Gabb gives kids more independence, which helps parents, too. Kids are empowered to call and text, so they can let their parents know if they need to be picked up at a different time, for instance. In this way, they start to understand how to effectively communicate and plan.
Gabb Phones are more affordable than other smartphones like an iPhone or Galaxy. At $99.99, Gabb Phones are a mere fraction of the price of other smartphones that can range between a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars.
While it’s important to always emphasize being responsible with their belongings, including not damaging or losing them, accidents happen. And, if they do, then it’s at a much better price point.
Less Screen Time
Because the Gabb Phone doesn’t connect to the internet or allow for app downloads, it’s a lot tougher for kids to waste hours using than a traditional smartphone. On average, kids with Gabb Phones spend 80% less time on their phones.