Is Your Child Ready for a Mobile Phone?
Thinking about giving your child his first mobile phone? theAsianparent surveyed 180 parents to check their pulse on what goes into preparing kids for this responsibility.
Giving child mobile phone: When is the right time? Just in this lifetime, we’ve witnessed how mobile phones have transformed into way more than a device used for texting and calling.
It's become a source of entertainment, keeps you informed and connected in ways you never thought possible, and the precious peace of mind that it gives people--especially parents, knowing that they'll be able to reach their children in a few seconds--simply just can't be bought.
In a way, mobile phones have become the lifeline of parents to their children when they’re out of the home (and sometimes, even when they’re in it!), but most put off their child's first mobile phone until they're "of age", so to speak.
Simply put, the child has to be responsible and ready to not just take care of the gadget, but to also use it responsibly.
Giving Child Mobile Phone: So what are the signs that your child is ready?
1) They've come of age. Some children may have started becoming familiar with mobile devices from the time they learned to grasp items (raise your hand if your toddler loved grabbing and hiding your phone!), but they usually don't get their own phone to use until well into their school years.
According to the survey we conducted, 77% of 180 parents who responded gave/would give their child their first mobile phone between 9-13 years old.
2) They can take care of their own things. While most school-aged kids are no longer in their "break everything you touch" stage, some still need to get used to the idea and accountabilities of ownership.
Most kids may act possessive over their things, like toys, but easily forget them as soon as they're out of sight and mind. Observe how your child takes care of his or her things. Remembering where the item was last placed, packing away or putting things back in their proper place are telltale signs of your child learning to become more responsible.
You can also test this by way of a trial period. See if your child can keep his or her mobile phone "alive", meaning full of battery at all times, doesn’t drop it, and knows where it is at all times. Even though most parents usually give a hand-me-down phone, the child still has to be responsible enough to care for it as if brand new.
3) They can use it freely with minimal supervision.The survey says that 82% of the parent-respondents believe their children use or will use the phone to call family or friends.
But most of them probably know that the usage will go beyond that - they'll log onto their social media accounts, if any, use free messaging services, play games, and perhaps watch videos or read online content.
Still, parents can't (and shouldn't!) hover over their children 24/7, acting as the phone police to make sure they're staying safe and using the phone responsibly. So what's a concerned parent to do?
Talking to your child about mobile safety is important, as well as including add-ons so that your child doesn't accidentally head over to inappropriate content, or interact with strangers.
Through the survey, we found out that among the Top 4 add-ons parents get for their kids are Caller ID and Mobile Internet Filter to ensure their child’s safety. Parents also look into mobile sharing and a TV/Video Pack to keep their children entertained as well as limit their use of data.
4) The price is right. A mobile phone for your child is an additional expense, but it doesn't need to be an extravagant one. Most parents who were surveyed said that yes, they usually give a hand-me-down phone, but 51% of parents surveyed purchase a mobile share plan with data for their kids, since it's more affordable in the long run (hoping to pay below $20 a month for their child’s mobile phone), and it doesn't feel like such a big expense when the plan is simply added to an existing account.
5) Which service provided to choose?. It's the obvious choice to go with the 3 main telco companies in Singapore, but while most parents might purchase from the same provider of their own mobile plans, one must ask -- does the plan really cater to your and your child's needs?
Singtel has recently launched a new plan (below $20 a month!!) specifically for this need, and it comes with features such as Mobile Internet Filter and Mobile Share. This lets you decide exactly what to give (and not to give) your child; in turn, giving you peace of mind. So make sure you do your research before purchasing the right plan for your child.
Mums and dads, take all of these into consideration, and gauge for yourself if your child is ready for another first in their life--you know your child best, and you'll be the best person to decide when it's the right time.