To give your kid a phone or not to give your kid a phone, that [dramatic pause] is the question.
Unfortunately, William Shakespeare didn’t have the answer either. As the first generation of parents raising kids in the digital age, we’ve got our work cut out for us. Gone are the days of second-hand Tamagotchi’s and beat up Nintendo’s — this is a new era full of face recognition and voice-activated tablets.
There’s no clear-cut answer when it comes to technology and child-rearing. Some technology has made our lives easier (hello infrared baby monitors) while others, like mobile phones, remain a prickly point of contention. As big humans raising tiny humans, all we can do is ask ourselves ‘what is right for my child?’. And your answer might very well be different from someone else’s.
But to help you get to your answer more quickly, we’ve pulled together the following pros and cons list. Because a good pros and cons list has never led a parent astray:
Pros: Reasons why your child should have a mobile phone
1. It teaches responsibility
It’s never too early to start teaching your little one the importance of responsibility. And just with a great mobile phone comes great responsibility. At least that should be the disclaimer when you hand the device over to your bundle of joy. The phone is something that they alone are responsible for — it can’t be lost or broken without repercussions. It’s a privilege, not a right, after all.
2. Your peace of mind
If you’re prone to bouts of anxiety whenever your kid leaves the house, then perhaps it’s time to gift them a mobile. Phones can be a lifeline between a parent and their child, providing peace of mind in case of an emergency. So stop stressing the chance of fire or risk of injury or any other dire catastrophe and rest assured that you, and your child, are contactable 24/7 because after all, there’s an app for that.
3. It’s practical magic
Being a parent is equal to being a professional event coordinator considering all the scheduling your week involves. Throwing a mobile phone, and a tonne of handy apps, into the mix will inevitably make your week run more smoothly. If gymnastics is cancelled, the bus breaks down or soccer practice runs over time, a mobile phone in the hands of your kid will help your family be more adaptable in the face of programming changes.
Cons: Reasons why your child should not have a mobile phone
1. It can impact sleep habits
If you give your kid a mobile phone, prepare to have the inevitable argument about whether or not they’re allowed to keep said mobile phone in their bedroom. We all know that smartphones can bring about significantly less sleep, later bedtimes and more fatigue in adults, and the same goes for children. Blue light is a major concern as it suppresses melatonin (the hormone that affects our circadian rhythm) and can result in brain stimulation exactly when you don’t want it — bedtime.
2. There are safety risks
Unless you’re giving your child a Nokia 3310, it’s likely that the phone they’re using will have the internet. And with that comes questions of privacy concerns, cyberbullying and access to inappropriate content. If you do decide it’s time for your child to have a mobile, it might be helpful to consider using parental controls that limit certain sites, apps and functions (like the camera and ability to make purchases). Considering mobile plans with limited to no data might even be the key.
3. Think of the money, honey
Let’s be real — kids are already expensive enough. Do you really need to be adding another cost to the equation? Mobile phones don’t really come cheap anymore so it’s worth factoring the additional expense into your budget before making the leap. After all, going over your data allowance is an expensive hobby…
Still not sure if it’s the right time for your kids first phone? Have a read of this.