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It seems as if cell phones have become an indispensable part of our everyday lives. That’s why most of our children come into contact with them at an early age. Studies show that users of digital devices are getting younger and younger. Even at an early age, children know the most important functions of smartphones. However, that’s not why they own their own device yet. At the latest when school starts, parents begin to ask themselves:
Does my child already need his or her own smartphone?
Every day, children see adults using their smartphones. This naturally arouses their curiosity: They would like to do the same as the adults. They quickly find out how the devices work, but technical understanding is not the only prerequisite for having their own smartphone.
Parents As Role Models
You can show your child that a smartphone is not absolutely necessary. For example, it can help to set a cell phone-free zone, or cell phone-free times, in the home. Show your child how much fun awaits them outside of the digital world. Play cards, instead of an online game, and plan outings together. Model for your child that a smartphone should make everyday life easier, not dominate it.
The Need For Security
The way to school is long, sometimes children already tread it alone. Parents want their children to be able to reach them in an emergency. But if that were all that mattered, a cell phone would be enough.
The Right Age
Even though you might want it, no one can give you a concrete number. The answer depends on your child’s stage of development. Can he or she use it responsibly? After all, with a smartphone comes mobile Internet. Even if no contract has been signed with the Internet, your child can use public WLAN – networks. For the most part, children of elementary school age do not yet need their own cell phones. However, for many, it is more than just a way to communicate. It is a status symbol.
However, they do not have to give in to peer pressure. For many, secondary school is the first suitable occasion to acquire a smartphone.
The trend toward smartphones is on the rise: Already 84% of all children between the ages of 12 and 13 own a smartphone. But does it have to be?
The Internet is not a youth-free zone. There is a lot of disturbing content on the web. Your children can access it with a smartphone, but their smartphones can be protected with apps and additional settings.
Getting Used To A Smartphone
Children quickly learn the functions of the smartphone. Tapping, swiping, zooming in – it’s pretty easy for them.
Still, it’s important to help them learn how to use mobile devices. Keep an eye on which sites your child visits and what they do with the smartphone. It makes sense to start with a mobile device without an Internet connection. From the age of eleven, you can then think about a smartphone of your own for your child. Children then learn self-protection through tips from their parents.
Inform your children about the risks of the Internet. Private photos can be disseminated, online bullying is possible and sometimes there are other dangers. Make your children aware of these risks to give them peace of mind.
Talk about the following things:
- Who do I tell what to and who can still read it?
- What data am I allowed to disclose?
- Are the people on the Internet my real friends?
- Is the information I read on the network correct?
Agreements Between Parents And Child
The use of a smartphone should initially be subject to certain rules. For example, you can talk about permitted functions and the duration of use. Recommended for elementary school children is a daily usage time of no more than one hour. There should still be enough outdoor activities.
When it comes to responsible smartphone use, you should explain to your child what rules of conduct are important.
Ultimately, however, your child’s maturity level will determine when he or she is old enough. Parents should stay in conversation with their children and observe their behavior. It is just as important that you set a good example and set limits.