As children get older, the question of what age they should be given a mobile phone is bound to come up. Unfortunately for parents there is no hard and fast rule.
No matter what pressure your child puts on you, this is an important decision which will open up their access to the digital world, and make it harder for you to control.
It’s good to think this through carefully and to negotiate some ground rules with your child.
Some parents find that agreeing conditions and consequences early on (depending on age and ability) can be helpful in setting and managing phone use, such as:
- “…you need to reach a certain age (say, secondary school)”
- “…it is put away by a certain time in the evening”
- “…you agree to take on specific chores”
- “…you have a limited amount of credit per week or month on the phone”
- “…you promise to text me when you are delayed or stuck (e.g. coming home from school)”.
Setting rules at the start will make it easier for you to help your child to use their phone responsibly. It’s important that consequences are in place even if this means taking their phone away for an agreed period.
Mobile phones for safety reasons
Some parents will want to give their child a mobile phone at a young age for safety reasons so they can contact them if they are lost or in danger. There may be good reasons for this. For younger children it is worth thinking about getting an old handset with no internet connection and just basic call functions.
Mobile phones in school
Most schools now have policies about pupils using mobile phones. These may include punishments which will see a phone confiscated – sometimes for long periods of time (e.g. until the end of term). It’s a good idea to make sure you are familiar with any rules before your child takes their phone into school.