The Parenting Challenge: To Give Or Not To Give Kids Their Own Devices Or Phone

Jul 1, 2019 by

Smart devices, like phones or tablets, are ubiquitous in our culture. Many adults only access the internet through these devices, so it’s not surprising that they’re accessible in most American homes. For children, what is the right age to have access to smartphones or tablets? There are additional considerations for brains still growing and forming. To know when to give your kids their own phone, here is a general guide.

Convenient Communication

The most compelling reasons to give your children their own smartphone is for ease of communication. You know that you can reach your child anywhere, anytime. You can also set their boundaries. Other than when they’re at school, they must answer a call from you whatever they’re doing.

This application works best with tweens and teenagers. For younger children, those who aren’t yet exploring their independence, most smart devices act as on-the-go entertainment.

Health Concerns

One of the primary health concerns for children and adults alike is radiation. Cell phones work through radio waves, which is a different form of radiation than the common X-Ray but it still has concerns. Early studies showed that there was no correlation between smartphones and brain tumors in children, though experts encourage longer studies.

For parents, you may want to limit your children’s exposure to their smart devices. While talking on the phone all hours of the day and night has been replaced by texting, long term exposure to cell phones can be concerning. 

Effect on Sleep

Another health concern for everyone, including children, is the effect of smart devices on our sleep patterns. It’s understood that the bright light from phone and tablet screens delays the release of melatonin in the brain, which is the hormone that gives your body permission to sleep. 

The best way to counteract this for your children is to establish a technology cut-off time in the evening before bed. If you have younger children, read a bedtime story to them to encourage sleep. For older children, suggest reading as an alternative to scrolling social media as well.

Teen Drivers

Once your children are driving, there is an entirely new set of challenges for parents. For generations, distractions while driving were very limited but with cell phones being the primary source of communication and maps, everyone seems to use one while driving.

Texting and driving is not only a dangerous combination, it can also be deadly. Teens are at risk of accidents which can harm themselves or others. A prohibition on texting while driving is the only way to be truly safe.

Cell Phone Monitoring

The only way for parents to be certain that their children aren’t on their smart devices too much is by monitoring their use. You can install an app that can set timers for daily limits, set tasks to use their phone productively, review web history, and approve apps. By monitoring the use of their device, you can control their screen time habits.

Another good exercise for parents is to lead by example. Many adults are also buried in their cell phones all hours of the night and day. Take time away from media resources to spend with your kids and family. Be willing to unplug and be without the internet for even short amounts of time throughout the day.

There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to cell phones and tablets, including the age of your child. What kind of smart device access will you allow your children?

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