At what age do you give your child a smartphone?

What is the most common question parents ask?  Not surprisingly, what age should a child be given a cell phone? Specifically, a Smartphone.

Those that read this blog, and are familiar with the Moxie mission, know not to ask that question.  Most likely, it won’t be the hoped for answer . Many parents want a hard and fast age. My prude and conservative answer; not until Senior year as a high school graduation gift. 

All parents have a timeline

My story

Interestingly, it was right around my daughters age, 10 years old, I became super conscious of the Mediterranean gift I received. Dark, hairy, arms and legs.  Unfortunately, it was around this age that peers took notice and thought it would be fun to ridicule. I was labeled an Italian grandma, gorilla, and monkey, to name a few. 

In retrospect, I laugh. However, it resulted in begging my mother permission to shave.  I remember her saying, “Once you start, you can never stop. The hair grows back coarser and coarser. You’re too young. Perhaps, when you’re thirteen.”  

Additionally, it was around age 7, I wanted my ears pierced.  Again, mother, told me I could get them pierced at age 10. By the way, mom believes if God wanted holes in ears, He would have put them there. 

All parents have a timeline on when they think things are age appropriate.  Determined by how they were raised, what their beliefs are, and cultural influence.  

There is a common average

Recently, I Googled what age boys and girls should start shaving. Additionally, I researched what age girls should pierce ears.  I thought I’d find differing opinions. Surprisingly, there was a common average for these big events. 

Unanimously, the agreed upon age for girls to begin shaving, is between 12-14 years of age. Reason being, girls at this age will likely be more mature. Hence, avoiding cuts which can lead to bleeding and infection.  

Comparably, boys start shaving at the onset of puberty. The majority beginning around age 15. 

What about ear piercing?

Regarding pierced ears, two solid ages are mentioned. Should you opt to pierce a babies ears, the suggested age is between 4 and 6 months. Therefore, removing risk of infection as tetanus shots will have been administered. 

If one subscribes to hold off,  typically, the age is 9-10 years old.  At this age a child can have input and make decisions about wanting to do this. Also, children have the maturation to maintain them which requires proper cleaning and rotating the stud. 

The Irony

Why bring this up?  It’s fascinating that parents won’t hand sons and daughters razors at young ages to prevent injury, right?  No parent wants to see a child cut by accident, bleed, and risk infection. 

We won’t allow daughters to get their ears pierced until they prove to be responsible.   

However, WE GLADLY GIVE THEM CELL PHONES! 

The Tech giants take on it 

Next, I  Googled what age parents should give children cell phones.  The mean age is 10 years, 3 months that children are now armed with cell phones. Specifically, smartphones. 

Yet, Bill Gates, who has children age 20.17, and 14 years old, are not given phones until high school at age 14.

The Co-Founder of Microsoft prohibits his children from having smartphones until senior high! 

Another expert opinion

The CEO of Common Sense Media, James Steyer, shares in the same sentiment as Gates.  His children must be in high school before receiving a mobile phone. They must also demonstrate they can exercise restraint and understand the value of face-to-face communication.  He doesn’t believe there is a one size fits all age. There’s no magic number that says you are equipped to act responsibly.

Wholeheartedly, I agree that no two kids are alike. However, as the mother of a 10 year old and 8 year old, there is no way my children are capable of self-regulation and restraint. Cell phones and tablets are powerful.  Most children these ages have tremendous difficulty unplugging. 

Analyze and draw conclusions

I’m involved in a dear community comprised of over 100 children.  Within that pool, I see many high school and middle school teenagers. In particular, two come to mind. Both, are polar opposites.  The way each interact with cell phone use and social media couldn’t be more conflicting.

One, can take it or leave it.  She is active in extra-curriculars, studious, and imaginative. The other, completely addicted to the device and can’t function without it.  This behavior has caused trouble in school and cost her in the self-confidence department.

Therefore, Mr. Steyer is correct. All children are not created equal. 

The poison we willingly give our kids

Parents today will give children something that puts them at risk for cyber predators, bullying, and being bullied.  Sadly, they are provided a device that their entire self-worth is based on.

Children are dependent on number of “likes” received and comments made about ridiculous selfies. Then, the constant exposure and reminders of what they were and weren’t invited to. There’s no avoiding it as it’s blasted all over social media.

The outcome

Kids are given a tiny hand held computer that dumbs down the ability to communicate effectively. Both, verbal and non-verbal. Additionally, these little devices stunt the ability to engage comfortably with eye contact and poise.

Youth today, are armed with an electronic permitting full access to the internet. Consequently, to view content they aren’t equipped to handle. Shocking images that emotionally, sexually, and spiritually desensitize. In essence, children are exposed to an adult world too underdeveloped to navigate.  

The REAL question

Ultimately, parents need to ask this: When should I give MY child a cell phone? Incidentally, the answer should NOT be, “because everyone else has them.” Another poor response, “I don’t want my child left out.”  

The RIGHT answers

When one can answer the following questions:

  • Is my child responsible?
  • Are they capable of disconnecting?
  • Does he/she adhere to limits?
  • Are they well versed in cell phone etiquette?
  • Can I trust that my kid will engage wisely with social media?

Only then, is it the right time for parent and child to step into the world of a smartphones.  

Why is this confusing? Where is the common sense?  When will society take the “go with the flow” method of raising children seriously?   

 

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