December, that time of the year when shopping for gifts is at the top of your to-do list. If your children are not included in the 75 percent of young children that have access to technology today, they are probably asking for a smartphone or a digital device of any kind. While December is one of the least expensive times to buy a smartphone, as is June, you should really think these gifts through. Here’s how to answer the question, “Is my child ready for a smartphone?”
Cyberbullying, sexting, online predators, and abuse are only some of the risks that children and teens are exposed too when they get unlimited access to a smartphone. So, is your child ready to unwrap one? This is a question parents should consider when giving their teen a new gadget.
Why am I buying this?
A valid reason for buying a cell or smartphone is to keep in touch with your child when he or she is not with you. Older teenagers who are beginning to look for work may need a cellphone to contact and follow up with prospective employers.
If your teenager is pressuring you to buy one for them, talk to them first and find out the reasons they want one. Will it be helpful for communication? Are they needing it for school? Help them be honest with you. If the answer is they want a cellphone because “everyone has one,” you should talk to them about peer pressure. While peer pressure to own a phone can be hard on teens, being like everyone else is not a good reason for your teen to own a phone. It’s an expensive way to fit in and giving into peer pressure does not show your teen is ready for the responsibility.
How Much Will This Cost?
The second consideration of buying a phone for your teen is the cost. Cellular plans vary from carrier to carrier so shopping around to find one you can financially manage is essential. Researching family plans that offer several lines for one price will help you decide whether to include a teen in your cellphone budget. You should also take into account the cost of the phone.
A first phone should not be the latest model or have all the up to date applications. Some parents may want to start their teenagers with a cellphone instead of a smartphone to see if having one is useful and cost-effective. The financial message to your teen should be cell phones are tools not toys.
So, Is My Child Ready?
Owning a smartphone involves responsibility. There are several indications to show your child has the maturity to own a cell or smartphone. The first question to answer is… how responsible is the child with other aspects of his or her life?
Signs of a responsible teen are doing well in school, helping around the house with chores, and using the internet in a trustworthy way. You may think you know your child but surprisingly enough, 70% of teens are hiding their behavior online from their parents, so you might want to have a conversation with your child first before buying this gift.
Other questions you might want to ask yourself before agreeing to buy a smartphone are the following:
- Does my child know about Cyberbullying? Will he be able to handle it maturely?
- Does my child show good judgement when dealing with peer pressure?
- Does he/she know how to behave online? Are they familiar with internet permanence?
- Are they aware of risky online behaviors like sexting?
If the answer is yes to these questions, then your child or teenager might be ready to receive a smartphone this christmas. While there are bargains for cell phones to be found in December, you as a parent will have to decide first if it is the right time for this responsibility and if your teen is mature enough to have a cellphone or smartphone.