Smartphones have become must-have accessories for children. According to an article published by TechCrunch: the approximate age for children to own smart devices is 10 years old. Smartphone ownership also rose from 39 percent in 2012 to 45 percent in 2016. It was also noted that 11 percent of children below 10-years old already have their own social media accounts. Although, early access to digital technology may help develop your child’s social skills, creativity, and language skills, they are still at risk of accessing inappropriate content. These are just some of the online safety concerns most parents have.
There are a number of factors you should weigh in before buying your child a smartphone. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of letting your kid own a smart device.
Train kids for the Digital Age
Technology is already part of their lives and they need to develop their technological aptitude. Schools are now tablets and other smart technologies to train their students for their future careers. Allowing them to explore the digital space at an early age would equip them with the knowledge they need in the future.
Teaches children about responsibility
Being responsible is one of the pillars of digital citizenship, and the best way to teach children about responsibility is to give them a smartphone. You can set guidelines about screen time, call, text, and mobile data usage. If your child either breaks or misplaces his or her device, he or she will be held liable for it. Your child will learn to become aware of his or her actions.
Parents can keep an eye on their children’s activities
Modern smartphones feature GPS tracking to help locate a device in real time. You can keep an eye on your kid’s activities and whereabouts. You can also send them a text or call to keep tabs on them. It’s easier to track them to ensure their safety.
Most kids may not understand the financial implications of using their smartphones. They can call their friends for hours, download all the apps and online music, or make in-game purchases. These may lead to higher cell phone bills. Higher expenses can be an extra burden for you and affect your family’s budget. Educating your child about the financial implications of owning a smartphone is also essential.
Exposure to online threats
Parents can set limits on their child’s Internet use and subscribe to security features to protect their children against online threats. However, a child’s curiosity could lead them to click ads which link to adult-themed online chat rooms. Orange County Department of Education’s Center for Healthy Kids & Schools’ Coordinator, Stacy Deeble-Reynolds, said that “The children need to be not so naïve that they completely dismiss it. Be careful about a 7-year-old befriending Cutegirl15 on Instagram.” She warns parents to educate their kids about cyberbullying, online predators, and other threats on the Internet.
Gaining weight and other health risks
Some parents use smartphones and tablets to keep their kids entertained. However, wearing headphones and earbuds while listening to loud music or volume could damage their eardrums. Medical experts believe that parents need to limit their children’s screen time. Since playing with tablets and smartphones is considered as a sedentary pastime, these kids may gain more weighed compared to other children who enjoy physical activities.
They can be “mind-numbing” distractions
Tablets and smartphones are good online learning tools. They can be used to download research materials for homework or to watch educational videos online. However, most kids use these devices to play games, chat with friends, or to update their social media status. Smartphones can be mind-numbing distractions for kids. Catherine Steiner-Adair, EdD, a clinical psychologist encourages parents to keep road trips, bedtimes, and family meals free from technology. “A family sit-down meal is one of the most proactive things you can do not only for your kid’s nutrition but for a whole host of psychological well-being issues.” The process of spending time with each other during mealtimes helps the family reconnect.
Weighing on the pros and cons of cell phone ownership is challenging. Knowing the facts will help you make the right decision for your child. Subscribe to MomSecure and learn more about our premium service features. Visit our website today.