Ah, the special day has arrived. The one you’ve been dreading. Your child just came to you pleading for their first phone, a request that was no doubt made calmly with statistical data of technology trends and its impact on the modern family or how phones can make both parents and kids feel better connected. Yeah okay. That’s not how it happens.
Is your child even old enough for a phone? What is the right age? If only it were that easy. Spoiler alert: There is no perfect age. In a recent Asurion survey*, 23% of the respondents said their children damaged a cell phone and 36% said it happened more than once.
With that in mind, respondents on average said 10-12 years old is the best age for kids to get their first cell phone. However, every situation is different, and we’re here for you.
Our tech experts came up with some questions to help you with this big decision. Don’t be shocked that some of these questions have more to do with the parent than the child.
Is your child responsible enough for such a commitment?
Phones are more expensive than ever. A smartphone can now cost upwards of a thousand dollars at full retail price, which is what you would have to pay if your child’s phone was ever damaged beyond repair, lost or stolen.
Would your child be able to understand the value of their device?
If so, it may encourage them to handle it responsibly and prevent mishaps like dropping it in the pool or giving it an apple juice bath.
Consider whether your kid is up for the responsibility. Are they ready to carry around such a pricey piece of electronic equipment wherever he or she goes?
Think through these questions to gauge your child’s level of responsibility.
- Is your child good about following rules you’ve set in other areas, like television use, homework, and bedtime?
- Is your child well organized or absent-minded?
- Are they careful enough with other electronic devices they have access to at home?
Will it make your life easier as parents?
Perhaps you’re the parent of a very busy child, with an after school schedule booked with soccer games, piano lessons, club meetings and more play dates than you can count. A schedule like this requires a well-designed plan for all the drop-offs and pickups. Would a phone for your child make it easier to stay connected and adapt to last minute changes in plans?
Was that a yes? Keep reading. More questions ahead.
How do you feel about tracking your child’s phone usage?
Tell your child up front if you’ll be doing that. For many kids, knowing that their phone is subject to inspection at any time can provide the excuse they need to stay out of trouble with the device. If you treat phone check-ins as a mutual opportunity to answer questions and share ideas about the best ways to use technology with your child, it may feel less like punishment and more like a teachable moment.
What about turning on location tracking?
There are lots of apps and services to help parents keep tabs on their child’s iOS, Android, or Kindle Fire device use, including the phone’s browser, messaging and social media apps. Check reviews and talk to other parents to find one that feels right for you.
Will you limit phone usage time?
Most parents will opt to set at least some limits. Even if you shy away from other parental control features, you may want to set a few basic guidelines in place to keep your child from spending all day (and night) staring at the screen.
A good rule to establish early on: the phone charges overnight in the kitchen. This eliminates the late-night texting or gaming temptation. Because – sleep is important!
How will you keep your child from damaging the phone?
This is easier said than done of course, but set a guideline to keep the phone away from all liquids. This goes for anything from bathtubs, swimming pools or that yummy glass of orange juice every morning.
Phones and liquid just don’t mix. Asurion actually sees a spike in claims filed for water logged phones in the summer months, when families are spending more time at the pool, on the lake or at the beach. It’s important to keep phones stored safely away from the water or in a waterproof case.
Since wrapping up the phone in bubble wrap would probably embarrass your kid, get a case for it. One that will protect it from day-to-day bumps and bruises.
Now, let the adventure begin!
Being the proud owner of their first phone is a big responsibility, but it should also be a lot of fun! Picking out wallpaper and backgrounds, memorizing their new phone number and connecting with their friends, those are what makes getting a new phone a great adventure.
Check with your wireless carrier to see about adding protection to your kid’s phones. Parents buying their student a tablet or laptop can also protect their purchases (and their wallets) with Asurion protection, available at major retailers. Need help setting up parental controls? Our tech experts are here to help with that, too.
*Source: Asurion 2018 Consumer Tech Dependency Survey. Asurion partnered with SSI, an online market research fieldwork provider, to survey 1,000 U.S. cell phone users, ages 18-65. March 2018.