What age should a child have a phone?
How old do you think your child should be before having their own phone? We asked 1,427 parents, plus got expert advice from a children's tech safety charity...
In a nutshell: Over 12 is the age most people said they'd let their child have a phone (we polled 1,427 parents).
It's quite possible that, from a pretty young age, your child is familiar with your phone – and we're talking smartphones, by the way.
You might have apps your little ones like to play. You may watch YouTube vids with them on it when you're out and about to keep them entertained – from nursery rhymes to the kids unboxing stuff which we know children LOVE to watch.
But when would you let your child have their own phone? Bearing in mind there's a high chance they'll want a smartphone which also gives them access to the internet and constant access to social media sites, as well as to make calls, when's the right age to let them have one?
We asked 1,427 parents at what age they'd let their kids have a smartphone, and the most common answers were:
More like this
- Over 12 (26%)
- 11 (21%)
- 10 (19%)
When we probed a bit further on this topic, quite a few parents thought that secondary-school age seemed about the right age to give a child a phone – mainly as a way keeping in touch with them – but some were also worried that this might put them at risk of theft.
Some also pointed out that they would want to limit apps on their child's phone.
Others revealed that, while they'd rather wait until their kids are older to let them have a phone, that wasn't always practical – such as this mum who said, "I think children should be secondary-school age before getting a phone but my children got them aged 9, as I am separated from their dad and they wanted to be able to contact me."
And a few also said it was imperative that they knew how and when the phones were being used, like this mum, who said, "I think when they start high school is appropriate but it would be supervised use and not allowed in their bedroom at night."
What does the expert say?
We got in touch with Childnet International about this topic (Childnet is a charity that focuses on helping making the internet and safe and fun place for kids to visit). They told us that it's completely down to each individual family to decide what age children should have their first phone.
They said, "It’s important to discuss whether they need it, and think about what they need from a phone.
"You don’t necessarily need to buy a top of the range smartphone! See our parents’ guide to technology to help you decide.
"Once you decide the time is right for your child to have their first phone, there are some important conversations to have with them on:
- the positive use of technology
- being respectful and safe
- screen time
- where they can use and store their phone
- what the rules around their usage are
"You can decide on these rules together as a family and keep talking to your child about their device usage and when downloading different apps or services explore and discuss them together."
Here are some of the keywords that came up when we asked parents about this topic:
Tara is mum to 1 daughter, Bodhi Rae, and has worked as Content Editor and Social Media Producer at MadeForMums since 2015
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