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.
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.
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.