Whether or not children should have mobile phones is a subject surrounded by debate, and opinions differ from one parent to another. Having a mobile phone won’t be right for every child, but there are some reasons why you may think about getting your kid a mobile phone.
Research conducted by Ofcom shows that 53% of children have a mobile phone by age of seven, while 93% of 12-15-year-olds own a phone. Children generally use their mobile phones for playing games, watching videos, or talking with friends.
Reasons why kids should have mobile phones
- Keeping in touch
- GPS tracking in an emergency
- Finance tracking
- Educational apps and games
- Teaching responsibility
- Chore tracking
Only you can decide when it is the right time for your child to get their first mobile phone, but there are some arguments in favour of getting your child a phone. If you do give your child a phone, you should find out how to keep your child safe on a mobile phone.
1. Keeping in touch
Having a phone of their own makes sure your kids can always contact you and makes sure that you can always contact them, whether that’s to warn them that you’re running late or to ask them to pick up milk on their way home.
Having a phone of their own means your kid can always have your phone number at hand. If you give your child a mobile phone, you can also list an In Case of Emergency (ICE) contact number in the contact list. If your child is unwell, someone might check their phone for an ICE number to phone, meaning you know if your child needs help.
Social media and messaging apps are huge and it’s no wonder that a lot of socialising is done online these days. Most children love the opportunity to talk to their friends more.
4. GPS tracking in an emergency
Most modern phones have GPS capabilities. Having a phone of their own can help your child if they get lost – Google Maps and other such services are great free apps to help them find their way home. They can also share their location with you so you can come pick them up.
5. Finance tracking
Just as we all rely on mobile banking, it can be great for children to be able to track their finances. With a GoHenry prepaid kids' debit card, your child can use the GoHenry app to track their spending and see how much money they have left, even when they are out and about. Using the GoHenry app, you can track your kid’s spending to help keep them on track for any saving goals.
6. Educational apps and games
There are a lot of great apps that can help your kid learn while they use their phone. GoHenry's in-app Money Missions help children build confidence, literacy and curiosity about financial matters. These fun videos and quizzes have been developed with teachers and financial education experts. There are educational apps for every subject.
It can be hard for kids to remember everything they have to do, and most phones have a simple calendar app that can remind them. You can also install a notebook app to help your children list their homework or anything else they need to do.
8. Teaching responsibility
Mobile phones can be expensive, which means they are perfect for teaching responsibility. If your child breaks or loses a phone you give them, you could show them the cost to replace, and potentially make them earn the money to replace it.
9. Chore tracking
There are lots of ways to use phones for organisation, and our paid task feature lets you use the GoHenry app to handle pocket money, letting kids easily see what chores they have been given, and lets them tick them off when they are finished.
Of course, most children primarily want a phone for entertainment, but that’s not a bad thing. Children can easily watch documentaries or listen to podcasts on a phone, or they can play games in their free time.
How to monitor your kid's mobile phone usage
If you choose to give your child a mobile phone, you’ll probably want to make sure that they are using it responsibly and safely.
Phone monitoring apps
Luckily, there are easy ways to keep an eye on your kid’s phone, such as phone monitoring apps that let you check that they are not accessing adult content or talking to strangers. It’s best to discuss the use of monitoring software with your child before you give them a mobile phone. Most young people are tech-savvy, and it can feel like a breach of trust if they find out you are monitoring their phone without their knowledge. To get more information on phone monitoring, check out our blog post about the best apps for monitoring phone usage.
You can also set up parental controls on iPhone and Android phones or in the GoHenry app in order to help keep your child safe. Parental controls can help make sure that your child is not able to reach certain websites, or you can set it so that they cannot enter certain search terms into search engines. You can also set a limit for your kid’s screen time if you are worried that they might spend too long on their phone each day, or if you want them to only have screen time once they have finished their homework.
Limit spending online
With the GoHenry app, you can limit your child’s spending on their GoHenry card – this means that you can stop your child from being able to make online purchases, which can be useful to help them stick to their budget.
As well as the positives listed here, there are some safety concerns over giving children mobile phones, which is why monitoring phone usage can be so vital for parents. Ultimately, whether or not you want to give your child a mobile phone is your choice.