This is a question that many parents ask themselves as their children get older: What is the appropriate age for a child to have their own phone? There are pros and cons to giving a child their own phone at any age. Ultimately it comes down to what the parents feel is best for their child.
In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of giving children phones at different ages, as well as some tips on how to make the decision that is right for your family.
What’s the average age for a child to have their first mobile phone?
According to a 2020 report from market research agency CHILDWISE, most youngsters now own phones by the age of 7. This information is echoed by an Ofcom media use study published in 2021, which indicated that three-quarters of children aged between 5 and 15 used a mobile phone, and 56% of them owned one.
What percentage of 5 – 7-year-olds own a mobile phone?
According to the same report from CHILDWISE, in 2020 there was a significant increase in the number of 5 – 10-year-olds who owned a mobile phone. It was found that 47% of 5 – 10-year olds had a mobile phone, an increase from 38% in 2019. This indicates that children are getting their first mobile at a younger age.
What percentage of 8 – 11-year-olds own a mobile phone?
According to a 2019 survey from data agency Statista, 86% of children aged between 8 and 11 years old in the UK had their own tablet or smartphone. This demonstrates another large increase compared to Ofcom data from 2015 when 35% of children in this age group owned a mobile phone.
What percentage of 12 – 15-year-olds own a mobile phone?
An Ofcom study also reported that 93% of 12 to 15-year-olds in the UK had their own mobile phone in 2021. Looking at data from a previous Ofcom study, this represents an increase from 77% in 2015, which also demonstrates that more children are getting their own phones at a younger age.
What are the benefits of a child owning a phone?
There are many benefits to a child owning a phone, including the following.
- They can stay in touch with their friends and family easily. A phone can help a child stay connected with their friends and family, which is especially important if they are away at school or have friends or family members who live in another town or city.
- They can call for help in an emergency. A phone can be vital in an emergency situation. If a child is ever lost or in danger, they can call for help immediately.
- They can access information and entertainment. A phone gives a child access to the internet, which means they can learn new things and be entertained.
- They can use it for educational purposes. A phone can be a great tool for education. There are many educational apps and games available that can help a child learn and grow, such as GoHenry’s in-app Money Missions. Many schools now use apps for homework and assignments.
- It can help them develop a sense of responsibility. If they are responsible for taking care of their phone and keeping it charged, it can teach them to be more responsible in other areas of their life.
- It can give them a sense of security. If young people know they can always contact their parents or another trusted adult in an emergency, it can help increase their confidence.
- They can develop good financial habits by using apps such as GoHenry. The GoHenry app and prepaid kids' debit card can help children learn about money management which will benefit them in the future. This includes learning how to budget, save and even earn pocket money through completing simple tasks. Learn more about GoHenry and get started today.
What are the disadvantages of a child owning a phone?
There are also some potential disadvantages to a child owning a phone, which may arise if your child’s phone use isn’t managed or monitored:
- Phones can be expensive. If a child is irresponsible, they may break or lose their phone.
- They can be distracting, especially for younger children. If a child is constantly on their phone, they may not be paying attention to their surroundings or the people they are with.
- A phone can also be a safety hazard. If a child is using their phone while walking or crossing the street, they may not be paying attention to traffic and could get hurt.
- Some children may become overly reliant or even addicted to their phones and the games or social media on them. This could take valuable time away from other activities.
Is there anything I should know before giving my child a phone?
Before giving your child a phone, there are a few factors worth bearing in mind.
- Your child's age: You might want to consider whether your child is old enough to be responsible for looking after a phone.
- Your child's maturity: If they're mature enough to handle the responsibility, it could be worthwhile to talk with your child about using the phone responsibly.
- Your child's needs: You could think about why your child needs a phone. If they need it in case of emergencies, they may just require a basic model. If they need it for entertainment or educational purposes, you may want to get them a smartphone.
- Your child's habits: You might want to think about your child's habits before giving them a phone. If they're going to be distracted by it regularly, they may not pay enough attention to their surroundings.
- Your child's safety: This is an important issue. If children are using their phones while walking or crossing the street, they may not be aware of traffic and could get hurt. Safety also means keeping your child protected while using their mobile phones to browse the internet and social media. This includes mitigating the risks of cyberbullying, online predators, or harassment.
The restrictions and parental controls you need to put in place: You might want to consider taking advantage of parental controls on your child's phone to help set boundaries on what kind of sites they can access. Parental controls can help you keep track of children's online activity, protect them from inappropriate content, and even limit their screen time.