I was invited to talk on BBC Radio Wales about children as young as 5 being bought their own mobile phones.
An Adelaide technology company says it has sold 25,000 of its all-in-one children’s smartphone, watch and GPS devices in 2020 and we’re still only in January!
As regular listeners to my podcast will know I believe in ‘ balance not banning’ kids use of technology. We need to put in boundaries around iphones just as we put boundaries around bedtime.
However, I do question why children need to have their own mobile phone at the age of 5.
Kids copy us in all the things we do and in what we say and in how we behave – as they are watching and learning from us all the time whether we are aware of it or not.
So, if they see you on your mobile phone most of the time it’s only natural they will want to copy you when they are little – a bit like getting a credit card from the Early Learning Centre to play shops with.
The decision to give a child a mobile phone, and at what age, is a personal one for each parent. Nationally, the average age at which kids get a phone of their own is 10 years 3 months. One thing experts agree on is that later is better. Once you open the door, it can be very difficult to close.
Technology has done a lot to make our lives easier and more efficient. Yet as a parent, I think it’s worth ‘Pausing to Ponder’ about the impact that devices such as smartphones can have on your child.
At a time when it is becoming commonplace for kids to have their own mobile device, it’s wise to be worried about what negative impact a smartphone could have on your child’s growth, mental health and wellbeing.
Children always want more stuff and want to be the same as all their friends but you are their parent, not their friend, so you understand the bigger picture and need to be confident in your decisions around what is and isn’s acceptable in your house.
Here’s an interesting article from Casey Imafidon in Lifehack to think about where he talks about how mobile phones alter the parent-child relationship, limits their creative minds, causes them to get less sleep, impedes their ability to learn and concentrate and can cause an addiction, to name only a few important downsides.
There’s something to be said for delayed gratification and allowing children to wait for things, including having a mobile phone. Most parents I work with think the transition from primary to secondary school is a good time to give their child a mobile phone as they begin travelling to school on their own and become more independent.
The best way to decide whether it’s time to give your child a phone is to break down the factors that go into that decision and weigh the pros against the cons in the context of your own family’s needs, not to be badgered, nagged or to feel pressure to keep up with the Jones !