Are you the parent of a child who is begging for a mobile phone? If so, it can be tough to know if they're ready for one. In this blog post, we'll provide some tips on how to determine if your child is prepared to take on the responsibilities of their first mobile phone. We'll also discuss the benefits of giving your child a mobile phone and how to set boundaries for using it.
Understand why your child wants a mobile phone
The first step is to try and understand why your child wants a phone. Is it because all their classmates have one? Do they need it for after-school activities? To message friends? Once you know the reason, you can think about whether they're ready for a phone. For example, if they want a phone simply because their friends have one.
On the other hand, if they need a phone to enable participation in after-school activities, a phone could be a good idea. Then you can stay in touch with them and ensure their safety. It's up to you to decide what's best for your child.
Assess if you think they are mature enough
Another factor to consider is whether or not you think your child is mature enough to handle a mobile phone. You might want to assess whether they are responsible for their belongings, can follow rules, and respect other people’s property. If you think they're not quite ready, then you can always wait a bit longer and revisit the decision again.
Understand wants vs needs
When you're trying to determine if your child is ready for their first mobile phone, it can be important to understand the difference between wants and needs. Just because your child wants a phone, it doesn’t mean that they need one. If your child is constantly asking you for a phone, it could be worthwhile to have a conversation with them about why they feel they need one.
Peer pressure can often play a role in kids wanting a mobile phone. In this case, it might be necessary to explain that just because others have something, doesn't mean they have to have it too. If your child can articulate logical reasons for why they need a phone, then you can start to consider if they're ready for the responsibility.
Create guidelines together
If you and your child decide to go ahead with getting a mobile phone, it may be important to set some guidelines. This may include addressing issues such as when they can use their phone, how much time they can spend on it, and what apps they are allowed to access. It may also be a good idea to have a conversation about cyberbullying and online safety. By setting guidelines together, you can ensure that your child is using their mobile phone in a healthy and safe way. There are some integrated parental control features on iPhones and iPads, which can give you some extra peace of mind.
Do you have the time to teach them about being safe with their phone?
If you decide that your child is ready for their first mobile phone, you may need to take some time to teach them about using a phone safely. This may include showing them what to do if they're contacted by a stranger, the importance of privacy, and how to report cyberbullying. By taking the time to teach your child about phone safety, you can help them avoid some of the dangers that accompany mobile devices.
Are you ready to monitor their smartphone usage?
Another important factor to consider is whether or not you're ready to monitor your child’s smartphone usage. This may include checking their call and text history, assessing the apps they're using, and setting limits on screen time. By monitoring your child’s smartphone usage, you can make sure that they're using their phone safely. The good news is that there's help available in the form of parental control apps for iPhone and Android, which are easy to install and use.
Does your child look after their belongings?
Another factor worth considering when deciding if your child is ready for a mobile phone is whether or not they look after their belongings. Having a phone will mean having a safe place to put it, keeping track of their phone charger, and not losing the phone or getting it wet. If you think your child demonstrates responsibility in taking care of their belongings, then they might be ready for a mobile phone.
Smartphone or not a smartphone?
You don't have to get your child a smartphone for their first mobile device. Instead, you could get them a feature phone, which is less expensive and more straightforward. With a feature phone, your child will still be able to make calls and send texts, but they won't have access to the internet or apps. This can be a good option if you're concerned about your child's smartphone usage or you want to wait until they're a bit older before buying them a smartphone.
Talk about online safety regularly with your child
Even if you decide not to get your child a mobile phone, it's still important to talk to young people about online safety as it can help keep your child safe on their mobile phone. This includes issues like cyberbullying and internet predators. Even if they don't have a phone, by discussing online safety regularly with your child, you can help prepare them for the day when they do have their own mobile device.
Learn more about GoHenry’s parental controls
If you're considering getting your child a mobile phone, check out GoHenry’s parental controls. With our parental controls, you can set limits on the amount of money your child can spend, the types of transactions they can make, and the types of online stores where they can spend. You get instant payment notifications whenever your child uses their card, so it can be a useful way of staying aware of how kids are using their prepaid debit card.