When is a Good Age for a Kid to Get a Smartphone?

Do you have kids who have been asking you for a smart phone? You might even know people who have kids your kids’ ages, and they have smart phones. How old is old enough for a smart phone and what age is it a good idea?

kids with smartphoneThis might sound like I’m bragging, but I’m not, people tell me ALL THE TIME “Your kids are amazing!” And then they follow up with, “My brothers kids grunt one-word answers when you ask them a question, they don’t look you in the eye, they don’t “talk” and they are always seemingly preoccupied and want to be somewhere else, whereas your kids are present, socially engaged and they actually look you in the eyes and have full blown conversations!”

My response, NO, my kids are nothing special, they are just normal. That’s how it’s supposed to be. When an entire generation of parents raise their kids on digital devices and video games, you get kids who are disconnected from other humans and grunt.

Beyond “socialization”, there are certainly advantages and disadvantages to giving your kid a smart phone, and we will look into all of this, below:

Advantages of Saying “No” to a Smart Phone

  • Kids are present, socially engaged and they actually look you in the eyes and have full blown conversations.
  • Kids will have to take notes the old-fashioned way with paper and a pencil or a computer, but this enhances learning.
  • Kids will have to communicate in non-anonymous way.
  • Eliminates the chances of being tricked by an online predator.
  • Eliminates cyberbullying and rude behavior that is usually anonymous.
  • Stops you from worrying that your kid will download inappropriate content.
  • Your kid won’t have the chance to video chat with people you don’t know.
  • Forces your kids to interact with people face to face where they can learn how to read body language.
  • You won’t have to worry about electronics stunting your kids’ social development.

Advantages of Saying “Yes” to a Smart Phone

  • Perfect for kids who are shy, socially awkward, or for those who have issues with face-to-face interactions. This however is debatable. I still say NO.
  • Kids who are not assertive in person can be more assertive online without seeming like a bully. It could also help them develop positive assertive skills. This is also debatable.
  • The kid always has a way to get help.
  • You can monitor your child’s whereabouts in real time.
  • You can connect with your child at any time by texting or calling them.
  • Kids can keep up with technology.
  • They can figure out ways to get paid using all the amazing tools the internet has to offer.

Does a Smart Phone Help to Develop Social Skills?

 Parents often wonder if a smart phone can help to develop social skills. This is a common question, and this is what we know. Before smart phones came onto the scene, many kids were having issues with social skills. We also know that many kids who have smart phones also have very good social skills.

It’s important to remember that in-person communication isn’t always the solution. A kid who is socially awkward, for instance, can speak to 1,000 people face to face and still be just as awkward in the 1,000-th conversation as they were in the first. This is also debatable.

It really might just all come down to parenting. A good parent might not have to worry about the mobile devices their kids are using because they have already laid the track for social development. This isn’t debatable. I’ll take credit!

Here are Some Solutions

 Here are some solutions to address when it’s appropriate for a kid to get a smart phone.

  • Consider a compromise. A kid who is 11 might benefit from having a phone just because you can track where they are, or they can get help very quickly if they need it.
  • You have to enforce the rules, too, such as no smart phones when having dinner, and you should be approving any app they want to download.
  • You also should have access to all of your child’s accounts, or they lose their phones.
  • You should also encourage your child to tell you, immediately, if they feel like they are being bullied.
  • There’s a time and a place. A phone isn’t a babysitter or a device to simply keep them occupied. It needs to serve a purpose.

If my older kid is on her phone, she’s being social, as in communicating with someone, because she doesn’t have social media where she’s self-aggrandizing or FOMO’ing. Or she’s using Duolingo, google it, she’s learning Spanish and Italian. Or she’s building out our father daughter project on Insta and YouTube “Minx The Pup” (subscribe) and learning how to use social creatively as a potential business tool while still maintaining a degree of anonymity and still being social.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

Promote Child Home Safety

A recent controversial SuperBowl commercial from a major insurance company depicted a young boy who died as the result of numerous preventable household accidents such as poising and falls. The commercial got lots of traction via social media. Although it was presented tactfully, many people didn’t approve. The truth hurts and sometimes isn’t pretty. However the message was clear; so many child deaths are preventable!

1H“I’m home!” If your child is not reliable at notifying you they’ve arrived home from school, set up a real-time alert system. Home security/automation systems can assist with this.

Don’t answer the door. Your kids should be under strict orders never to answer the door no matter what. Role play this with them; pretend you’re a stranger on the outside of the door, begging to use the phone for an emergency. Instruct your child that if someone’s crying help, to NOT open the door and instead dial 9-1-1.

Smoke detectors. Have smoke alarms in the house and educate your kids about them.

Carbon monoxide detectors. Newer smoke detectors are 2-in-1 carbon and smoke detectors. CO gas is odorless and invisible. Ingestion is painless. That’s why it kills so easily.

Hide cords and wires. Not only are these a tripping hazard for adults, but toddlers just love to pull at these. Toddlers have been known to put these in their mouths and stick objects into electrical outlets. Put “baby proof” covers on outlets and bundle and/or hide the cords.

Eliminate anything that can act as a noose. It’s difficult to imagine how a toddler can end up hanging dead from a curtain cord, but it’s happened.

Buckets. Babies and toddlers love playing in small spaces like card board boxes and even buckets, but buckets can easily robs them of life under certain circumstances. Never leave a toddler unsupervised near a bucket of water (you’re bathing the dog and you leave the area to answer the phone or check your cooking food).

Toddlers have been known to topple head-first into buckets of water and drown because they couldn’t lift their heads out. Note the proportions of a toddler’s head to the rest of his body and you’ll see why this kind of fatality happens.

Baths. Never leave babies or young children unattended in bathtubs, even for “just a few seconds.”

Hide the matches. Why is it that parents can be so good at hiding the candy but not the matches? All to often we read about home fires being started because a child was “playing with matches.” Disclosure: I lit an entire couch on fire in my house as a kid while playing with matches. My mother will vouch. Sorry mom!

Hide the guns. Keep your guns available to you for protection but impossible for your kids to get to. There are numerous gun safes and lock that should be deployed.

Poison control. Our first child was allowed to go into the bottom kitchen cabinets and pull out everything she wanted to and scatter it all over the floor. Once. Made for a fun video. Of course the cabinet containing the cleaning supplies was off limits. The second child didn’t have this option due to all the cabinet locks. Don’t forget the bathroom and linen closets and even the garage.

Home security. The smartest child in the world can still be victimized by a thug who broke through a window. Windows should have shatter-proof film. Your child should learn how to activate the house alarm so that it will go off if someone tries to break in. You can be connected to all this with smartphone applications.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.