"When should I get my child a phone?"
Some answers may convince you to wait until your child is almost in high school. The reality is that it depends on the individual child—at least for a typical smartphone. If the phone is designed to support the wellbeing of kids, 5th grade is the ideal year to give your child their first phone.
When you tell your child to wait two more years for their first phone, they’re not only isolated, but they have access to every app, social media site, and game in existence. Because in reality, the vast majority of 12-year-olds now have phones, and why wouldn’t they let their classmate scroll during lunch break?
On the flip side, if your child has a phone programmed to support their lifestyle and your family values, they won’t have the desire to browse on a friend’s phone.
Ease Them Into Tech
Younger kids are more accepting of rules, and with older kids it’s difficult to peddle back once they start something new. Easing young children into healthy technology sets them up for healthy habits later in life. Younger kids think their parents are superheroes and follow rules without too much questioning. Older kids, however, want to find their sense of self, and this can come in the form of rebellion. By giving a child a smartphone in 5th grade, they won’t question why you monitor texts, apps, and screen time. As they grow old enough to understand the potential harms that the digital world presents, you can gradually give them more apps and freedoms.
Independent Kids Grow Into Awesome Adults
Kids want to explore and try new things, sometimes with new people. Giving them a safe space to do so will positively impact their futures. With a phone, kids can venture further while their parent remotely keeps tabs on their location. Kids can nurture friendships through text while their parents keep an eye on their conversations. They can start to truly exercise autonomy for the first time.
Smartphones Can Help Your Connection
What if your child texted you about her new friend while you were still at work? Phones can act like a pathway for conversations while they're fresh. After all, this might not be on their mind by dinnertime (or if the new friend is also a crush, they might not want to tell the whole family!). You can share songs with each other, and let your kid lay down the beat for an impromptu dance party.
Get Ahead of the Middle School Messiness
Entering middle school is an awkward time of some kids looking like adults while others want to act like adults, but on the inside, they still have so much to learn under a mountain of pressure and hormones. By giving your child a phone when they're in elementary school, they have the brain space to manage the learning curve better. Once they're in middle school, they'll already know the boundaries and capabilities so that they can focus on the next big chapter in their life with a supportive tool.