Table of contents
- Advantages and disadvantages of kids having a phone
- Why should a kid get a phone
- 1. Connection with parents
- 2. Socialization
- 3. Phones can help in learning
- 4. Ability to have fun playing games
- Why kids shouldn’t have phones
- 1. Health risk
- 2. Easy access to risky content
- 3. Blackmail and sexting threats for a child
- 4. Distraction and behavior problems
- How old kids should be to have a phone
- How to keep your child safe on their smartphone
- 1. Set up parental control
- 2. Talk to your child about the rules for using the phone
- 3. Teaching a child about cybersecurity and netiquette
Advantages and disadvantages of kids having a phone
Some parents give their children a phone at a young age, but others don’t think they need one until they’re teens. The truth is that there’s no concrete rule; it’s up to you to decide when you let your kid have a phone, and every family situation is different.
For independent children, the big advantage of giving them a smartphone is that it lets you communicate with them at any time. The big disadvantage is that it’s not just you they can get in touch with. Mobile phones increase the risk of cyberbullying and other online dangers.
Let’s look at the biggest pros and cons in more detail.
Why should a kid get a phone
In addition to allowing you to communicate with your child at any time, a smartphone can alleviate the boredom that all kids feel at times, and it gives them the freedom to:
- Stay in touch with friends and other family members
- Access educational apps
- Enjoy games and other forms of entertainment
1. Connection with parents
If you have an older, more independent child, allowing them to have a phone is almost a necessity rather than a luxury. It means that when they go out without another adult, they can contact you whenever needed, and you can call and message them to ensure they’re safe.
Modern devices also offer several useful parental features that can give parents peace of mind over their child’s safety, including the ability to view their child’s GPS location.
Kids need to be able to communicate with friends as well as their parents, so giving them a smartphone that lets them access social media networks and popular messaging platforms can have a hugely positive impact on their mental health. However, ensuring they use these services safely and under supervision is important.
3. Phones can help in learning
Many parents believe that when a kid gets a phone, it becomes a huge time-waster, but it can be incredibly beneficial to their education. Countless learning apps on Android and iOS help children progress in almost any subject, whether it’s languages, mathematics, science, music, or coding.
4. Ability to have fun playing games
When it’s time for fun, smartphones provide children with hundreds of thousands of safe games. Many of these are completely free to download, and if you use services like Apple Arcade or Google Play Pass, there’s no need to worry about ads or in-game purchases.
In fact, when a person is having fun, their brain releases the happiness hormone—dopamine. Thus, playing fun games stimulates happiness and reduces stress in your kids.
Why kids shouldn’t have phones
If you have a child who isn’t completely independent and doesn’t really need a phone, the cons can outweigh the benefits. Studies show that kids who own cell phones can become addicted to them, which leads to them neglecting other tasks, like exercising and reading.
Other significant downsides include:
1. Health risk
Excessive smartphone use among children can lead to physical and mental health risks, according to medical experts. These include eyestrain, headaches, sleep deprivation, ADHD, and joint pains that can occur from being slumped over mobile phones for too long.
Children who become addicted to smartphones can also suffer withdrawal symptoms when they have to stop using the device, while others find that they have a negative impact on mental health. Social media, in particular, has been known to lead to anxiety and depression in kids.
2. Easy access to risky content
While there’s a lot of positive content that kids can access on the phone, there’s plenty of negative and inappropriate content out there as well. Kids can easily access dangerous or adult websites, apps, and other media without the proper caution and parental controls.
3. Blackmail and sexting threats for a child
Sadly, owning a phone opens children up to blackmail and sexting threats that they shouldn’t have to deal with. Many kids like sharing photos of themselves and sensitive information with those they can trust. But when pictures of your child end up in the wrong hands, blackmailers and manipulators can exploit them.
4. Distraction and behavior problems
Kids regularly get too attached to their phones, making them a huge distraction. Phones not only get in the way of other, more important tasks—such as school work, in-person socialization, and even personal hygiene. But they can also lead to behavioral problems, like tantrums or lashing out, if the child loses access to the device.
How old kids should be to have a phone
The age at which kids have cell phones is not set in stone, but clinical social worker Catherine Pearlman believes that 10 to 12 is a good range. This is because kids are still closely connected to their parents at this age, allowing parents to control and monitor their usage.
It’s important to ensure your child is old enough to use a phone responsibly but not so old that they aren’t willing to listen to an adult’s advice on how to stay safe.
How to keep your child safe on their smartphone
No matter what age you choose to give your kid a smartphone, there are some simple steps you can take to protect them:
- Set up parental control
- Talk to your child about the rules for using the phone
- Teach your child about cybersecurity
1. Set up parental control
Any parent or guardian can set up parental control on Android and put parental control on iPhone. This standard feature on these devices gives adults some control over the content their child can see and interact with. You can also block websites on Safari and other mobile browsers to prevent children from accessing adult content online.
2. Talk to your child about the rules for using the phone
One of the most important steps before giving your child a phone is to lay out the rules and guidelines. Make it clear what they can and can’t use the phone for—and why certain actions and behaviors can be dangerous to them. Also, explain what will happen if they don’t respect the boundaries.
3. Teaching a child about cybersecurity and netiquette
Cybersecurity risks are everywhere, and everyone with internet access, including children, can fall victim to them. Make it a priority to explain cybersecurity to a child before giving them a phone with internet connectivity, and if they may use the device to play with friends online, be sure to cover online gaming safety and proper netiquette, too.
These things can be difficult topics to cover with children, but they’re also some of the most important, given the ever-increasing number of threats from cybercriminals and abusers. A great way to boost cybersecurity for your whole family is with Clario AntiSpy, which protects your devices from dangerous spyware and trackers that can monitor your activities.
To protect your child from downloading dangerous trackers or spyware, try Clario’s AntiSpy setup. This feature exhaustively lists the necessary settings you need to adjust to make it impossible for anyone to track your phone and eventually access your personal information.
Follow these simple steps:
- Download Clario AntiSpy, get a subscription, and set up an account for your child.
- Click AntiSpy setup > Review.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to set up your phone for secure usage.
Giving your child a smartphone can bring big benefits, especially if they’re at the age where they’re becoming independent and venturing out on their own. It will allow you to get hold of them whenever you need to and ensure they’re safe. However, it’s important to remember that giving kids phones also has risks.
Being aware of these risks and taking steps to help your children avoid them is a part of being a good parent in the modern age. And if you want to protect your family’s privacy from malicious software that can spy on your online activities, use Clario AntiSpy.