If you are reading this, chances are you have a child who’s now turning to their early or late teens. And if you’re worried about this, then you aren’t alone. Most parents feel the same way, especially when their child is nearing the “right age” already.
For the most part, children who have reached this age group tend to demand one thing: to have their own cellphone.
But here’s the thing: the fact that your child has already made that demand does not mean they really need one.
What to Consider Before Getting Your Child their Own Phone?
Of course, they would tell you that their social life, or at least their privacy, will be compromised if they still don’t have their own phone by now.
As a teenager, it’s pretty normal for your child to emphasize their boundaries and start demanding their privacy.
However, as they enter the stage of independence, you as a parent would still feel the need to monitor their social activities and keep in touch with them. Besides, if your child says they’re independent, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll do just fine by themselves.
This means that parental guidance is still highly advisable, as they’re still highly prone to making wrong decisions, especially with the influence of the internet. With all those polarizing choices, you have to consider a few things first before you settle on a final decision.
How mature is my child?
Before anything else, keep in mind that age is not the only determinant of whether your kids can have their own phones or not. It has something to do with social awareness.
A fifteen-year-old child can be more socially aware than a nineteen-year-old teen. Likewise, a fifteen-year-old teen can be a little bit less mature than a thirteen-year-old. This means that thirteen-year-olds can handle and manage their social life better.
So how do you determine how “mature” and qualified (not old) your child is to handle their social life? You might want to ask these questions to yourself:
- How well can my teens discipline themselves in terms of screen time?
- How technologically savvy are they?
- Are they aware that their future employers, university admission authorities, and their colleagues can possibly see everything they post on social media?
- How quick are they in picking up social cues? (This is very important because if they’re slow to catch on to these cues, they might constantly message their friends “hey” without understanding why none of them responds.)
- How well do they handle money? (This is another important question to ponder, as they might be impulsively spending on a gaming app, messaging app, and any other online services without considering all of their costs.)
- How often do they lose things? (It does not matter how expensive or cheap the thing is. The point here is how careful and mindful your child is.)
- Do they have any struggles in their academic tasks?
What if my child has ADHD?
Kids who are suffering from ADHD get constantly distracted from the mental and emotional stimulation caused by excessive screen time. To give you an idea of what ADHD is, children who are struggling with ADHD or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder have extreme difficulty concentrating on their tasks, paying attention, and controlling their impulses.
Experts have said that the excessive amount of time these children spend on their phones, tablet, or computer may possibly aggravate their symptoms. No matter what age or educational attainment that child has, he or she may still suffer from the impending consequences of prolonged screen time.
So if you are a parent of a kid suffering from ADHD, you have to make them aware of its impending risks as much as you are aware of them.
Children suffering from ADHD symptoms also find it hard to stay focused on tasks that are boring and less reinforcing but more important. They also find it hard to sit still during an important dinner conversation.
This only implies that the more they use their phones, the more they are encouraged to do more stimulating tasks— thus making them more impulsive than they were.
Is my child cooperative and disciplined?
Your child’s attitude often determines how willing they are to cooperate with your set of rules. However, you also have to assure them that your rules wouldn’t cross their boundaries in any way. With that, you can be sure that your child will trust you and be honest with you.
Also, your child’s attitude offline may also determine their online behaviors. If you’ve observed how impulsive they always were, then there’s a high chance they could also act that way when making online purchases. They might only post things online without any forethought.
Can I prevent them from getting addicted to their phones?
As a parent, you might want to know how to help your kid avoid phone addiction (to the point that they sacrifice their other important activities). At the same time, you also don’t want to limit them for so long. Therefore, throughout the time that you deprived them of their social activities, make sure you were able to let them understand why.
You can’t just confiscate their phones without calmly explaining to them why you did that. In that way, they would be more than willing to participate in the process. If you’ve observed a significant amount of improvement in their behavior and lifestyle, it might be the best time to give their phone back to them.
Also, when it is time for them to have their phone back, you can assure yourself that they will be better and more responsible social media users.
Regardless, smartphones and other devices can be used as reinforcements. When your child fails to concentrate during their tutorial classes, you may use their phones as motivators too. You may tell your kid to finish studying an entire chapter first before giving them their phone back.
Also, you shouldn’t just give them their phone without moderating their online activities and limiting their screen time. Although minimal, parental supervision is still a must for your teens.
Parenting can be tough in these modern times, especially with the presence of technology. Luckily, we have some resources that will hopefully help you out such as the following: