The question of whether to buy your child a cell phone is a daunting modern dilemma for many parents.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of giving a cell phone to children?
Are there any risks?
Then, of course, there is the question of deciding whether your child is mature enough to care for a phone.
Will they use it responsibly?
Will it help them rather than hinder their daily life?
These questions only complicate the decision for parents even more.
According to recent research, however, parents are increasingly beginning to appreciate the benefits of giving their children cell phones.
Which begs the questions: why should we give our child a cell phone? Do the benefits outweigh the costs?
We believe they do. Here’s why.
The Benefits of Giving Your Child a Cell Phone
1) Stay in Constant Contact
One of the biggest reasons to give your child a smartphone is the fact that you can always stay in touch with them.
Smartphones are one of the easiest ways to keep track of your kids.
With a quick call, you can find out where they are, who they are with, and when they will be home.
They provide your children with the same reassurance.
Knowing their parents are only a quick phone call away in the event of emergencies or problems, or simply to update them that there won’t be soccer practice after school, is a comfort.
2) Keep Track
For parents who have particular concerns about the safety of their children when they are out and about, most modern cell phones can also host GPS tracking systems.
The exact or approximate location of the phone and its owner can be pinpointed at any given time online by concerned parents.
Similarly, given an emergency in the home or with a family member, can be linked to home security systems, so that the child will be notified of a problem at the same time as the parent.
Plus, in these days of reported incidents happening in schools, cell phones give kids a way to send emergency texts to let parents know they are safe.
Some companies help link security systems to mobile phones for various types of emergencies.
With children becoming more independent at younger ages, you should give your child a phone to help you stay connected with your child.
Beyond the safety benefits of giving your child a cell phone, the convenience of having contact with your child at a moment’s notice is priceless.
A million potential daily changes may make you want to talk to your child on the fly.
Maybe you are running late for dinner, would like them to pick up some pizza, or simply want to let them know you care for them.
Giving your child a phone will allow you to let your child know of any last-minute updates with total ease.
4) Social Inclusion
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 85% of children aged 14-17 already have smartphones.
Even 69% of 11-14-year-olds have smartphones.
Many of these children keep in contact with peers through messaging, texting, and calling in a way that facilitates their inclusion in social interactions.
Without their smartphones, they would have a much more difficult time cementing new friendships and finding out about popular social events like birthdays and parties.
Kids without smartphones may also run the risk of isolation and being made fun of.
Although other forms of contact are possible, the popularity of smartphones have made it so that children who do not use one to keep in contact with their friends are at a slight social disadvantage.
5) Study, Learning and Education Help
Thanks to the widespread availability of knowledge at your fingertips, there are many applications and websites available to direct your kids toward, to facilitate learning, and spending time productively.
Rather than having to lug around heavy books, children of all ages have access to resources to aid and improve their learning.
From checking their grammar and to learning firsthand how to express themselves better, learning can expand far beyond the classroom thanks to technology.
6) Health Benefits
Smartphones and smartphone paired devices can help count how many steps you take in a day, so you are aware of how active you are.
They can also alert you on insightful patterns when it comes to sleep, heartbeats, etc. With this data, you can help your child healthily optimize their daily activities.
Of course, giving your children access to smartphones can come with its own set of potentially serious risks.
Some children may not be mature enough to take care of the phone, making it a waste of money when lost or stolen.
Others may abuse the privileges of the phone, spending too much money on calls and texts, or too much time distracted by social media or the other interactive aspects of the phone.
I once heard a story about a 15-year-old boy who received inappropriate pictures of his 15-year-old girlfriend via text message.
He shared the photos with all of his friends, and his girlfriend eventually found out.
She blew the whistle, and he was accused of breaking the law on multiple counts.
The court deemed his parents responsible, and they were slapped with a huge fine.
This is a cautionary tale; however, it does illustrate how easy it is to trip into a pitfall of modern technology merely due to irresponsible and careless behavior.
The boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable usage of phones, and the negative consequences of certain harmful behaviors need to be established with your children.
If you buy your 8-year-old a brand-new iPhone, it may set a precedent for what your child may come to expect.
They may feel entitled to a brand-new car when of driving age, an apartment when entering college, and so on.
To prevent your child from developing entitlement issues and instill an understanding of the value of money, you could choose to buy a cheap, used or basic cellphone.
Save the fancy ones for when they are old enough to understand the value of a dollar.
You could also teach your child the value of earning your keep by rewarding them with a phone in exchange for positive behavior, such as doing their chores, bringing home good grades, and so on.
This is a valuable and positive way of countering entitlement, as it teaches kids that they have to work to deserve or earn the finer things in life.
The growing usage of smartphones and social media has also seen a similar increase in cyberbullying.
Children who are not appropriately supervised and guided in social media usage could easily fall under the radar of problematic individuals.
Scarily, this could include adults masquerading as kids or friendly online confidants, tricking, or pressuring children to share sensitive information.
Even more worrisome is that your child is not fully aware of the risks of freely sharing information such as their names, addresses, and current locations.
They may inadvertently become easy targets for those with predatory or harmful intentions.
Furthermore, although parents would never want to think negatively of their children, there is also the possibility that your child might be the one initiating or provoking the bullying.
The anonymity being online provides can give children who are not better aware a false sense of security.
It can lull them into participating in problematic behaviours, perceived as harmless fun or “trolling”, with the potential to evolve into something worse.
As such, it is imperative to monitor your child’s phone and social media usage, if you do choose to provide them with one.
This involves a fine line between discipline and being overbearing because overly strict attitudes can push children to strike out for freedom and keep their online activities a secret from parents.
Modern smartphones offer a wealth of information and entertainment, anywhere and at any time.
Unfortunately, this could also tempt kids and adults alike to remain stuck on their phone screens for longer periods than is healthy.
Researchers have linked poor sleep to excessive phone usage, which has in turn been linked to poor development, growth, health, as well as educational and social performance in children.
A healthy routine of phone usage should be established, for instance, requiring your children to give you their phones when it is time to go to bed.
Parents should be prepared to monitor smartphone usage if you go ahead and give your child a smartphone.
Unlike your shared family television subscription, where you have a fairly good idea of what the family is consuming as entertainment, it is harder to keep track of what media your child is exposed to online.
With online browsers and media-heavy apps like YouTube and Instagram a mainstay on smartphones, it is all too easy to fall into an internet cesspool.
In fact, recently, YouTube has come under serious criticism for its algorithm-driven system, which recommended and autoplayed controversial and problematic content because it is programmed to try and keep users on the platform longer.
Many of the viewers exposed to this were found to be children.
It is relatively easy to bypass the age requirement for several websites, which further necessitates the vigilance of the parents.
Keeping an eye on what your kids are watching is necessary, but not in a suspicious or overbearing way.
A mutually trusting and honest dynamic when it comes to media usage can improve the likelihood that your child will themselves approach you if they stumble on something suspicious or questionable online.
So Should You Give Your Child A Smartphone?
As smartphone usage has skyrocketed throughout the world, it comes as no surprise that we see more and more children taking part in the trend.
Despite the risks, we could argue that in modern society, a smartphone’s functionality is a necessary evil, or in the case of learning and education, that access is priceless.
As with most things, moderation and vigilance are essential.
Openly discussing and warning your children of the potential risks of using phones to spend time on social media, directing them toward better, self-enriching usage, and monitoring their usage times can help negate some of these risks.
These are our 6 reasons for why the benefits of giving your child a cell phone outweighs the costs.
Where do you stand on this matter?
Did this article help you in making the decision to give your child a smartphone? Let us know!