The topic of when to give your child a phone is laced with controversy. So, we’re here to help you decide when the right time is. A mobile phone seems to be the must-have accessory these days with children as young as six, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they have to have one. As with most things in life, owning a phone comes with positives and negatives.

From the moment your child gets their first phone, the costs will be forever ongoing. Whilst you don’t need to spend a lot of money on the initial phone, you will have to pay to keep it running. If your child is purchasing their own phone, it’s important they understand the costs and implications of not paying their bills on time. However, this can be a great budgeting lesson for them.

What are the disadvantages?

The greatest concern that parents have about mobiles is how easily children can get addicted. If your child is good at limiting their screen time on the TV, games and iPads, then hopefully they will be able to do the same with a phone. Otherwise, you have to be prepared to be strict with their usage time.

As most of us are aware, anything that you post on the internet can come back to haunt you. It’s imperative that your child is aware of the lifelong consequences which could proceed if they misuse their phone – remember, once something is on the internet, it’s out there forever.

Bullying is a huge issue for children in today’s society and owning a phone can increase the chances of bullying and being bullied. It’s easy to hide behind a screen and post nasty comments, so it’s vital that your child has resilience skills for these instances.

What about the advantages?

However, owning a phone does possess many advantages for children, the number one being it can act as a safety tool.

Parents and children alike can easily contact each other in times of emergency, or just for convenience as opposed to having to use a school or friend’s phone. It can foster a relationship between children and technology and can actually teach them skills they will use later in life. Alongside this, it’s a great tool to teach your kids how to be responsible with technology.

Keeping them safe

One suggestion is that you buy your child a simple mobile phone for their first one – this way they can contact Mum and Dad for safety reasons, but if it has no internet access it hinders them from misusing it by going on Facebook or searching something inappropriate. If you want to buy your child a ‘smarter’ phone, that’s fine too. If you ever need it, there are multiple child proof settings that parents can make
use of and great software apps like Kaspersky, and Circle With Disney. There are also alternatives to a phone like Smart Watches that allow the child to call you if need be.

Ultimately, there is no specific or right age that your child should have a phone. It really boils down to whether you think your child can handle the responsibility of owning one, and whether they really need one or if it’s just ‘keeping up with the Jones’.

If you’ve decided it’s time, head into Harvey Norman to find out which phone would best suit your child.