How to Tell if Your Child is Ready for a Smartphone

August 7th, 2013 by admin

It’s hard to believe that cell phones haven’t been a part of the cultural landscape for generations, especially considering their ubiquitous presence now. While today’s parents remember a time before everyone carried a powerful mobile device in their back pocket, the fact is the tween and teens of today’s generation do not. When kids’ pleas for a device that connects them to the Internet and the world at large become deafening, it’s hard to objectively determine whether or not they’re actually prepared for such a responsibility. Before rushing out to pick up the newest and most advanced device, however, it’s imperative that parents take a variety of factors into account.

She’s Learning to Take Care of Her Possessions

Even smartphones on the lower end of the price spectrum can be quite expensive, and aren’t an investment that you’ll want to make if your child is still careless and inadvertently destructive. If she still tends to lose her school supplies or leave things behind, it’s a fairly strong indicator that she’s not ready for the responsibility of carrying around a small, fragile and exorbitantly expensive piece of technology on a daily basis. Safety concerns and the possibility of distraction aside, a child that isn’t capable of keeping up with less expensive items or keeping sturdier ones whole simply isn’t a good candidate for smartphone ownership. It’s probably best to stick with cheaper and more hardy phones until she matures a bit. On the other hand, if she tends to take care of her belongings and she’s mature enough to keep track of her phone, it may be a sign that she’s ready to upgrade to a phone that reflects that maturity.

Your Phone is Crowded With Homework Apps

One of the most valuable and attractive aspects of a smartphone for parents of tweens and teens is its ability to help kids with complex homework and assignment logging tasks. If your own smartphone is clogged with homework help and management apps, it may be time to consider upgrading your child’s phone to one that more accurately meets her needs and reflects her growing level of responsibility. This especially holds true if she’s holding your phone hostage during homework sessions.

Her Schedule is Becoming More Crowded

Today’s kid has more than attending school on the daily schedule. She also has athletic programs, clubs and teams, extracurricular activities and a social schedule to balance. One of the things that a smartphone brings to the table is an increased level of schedule management, but one feature that makes a smartphone especially enticing to parents is the capability of tracking and monitoring apps to ensure that your child is where she’s supposed to be throughout the day. With a dedicated family locator app, you can ensure that your child reaches her destination and remains there, especially if she’s dependent upon buses and carpools for transportation.

Consider Her Reliability Track Record

When you’re in the process of determining whether or not you think your child is mature enough and capable of handling the responsibility that comes along with owning a device that’s capable of pinpointing her location and potentially sending out dangerous amounts of personal information, it’s important to take more than just your child’s age into account. Consider her track record and the level of reliability she’s established in other areas of her life. If she’s mostly responsible and makes a point of following the rules, she may be ready for a smartphone. If, on the other hand, she’s showing signs of a rebellious streak and has shown questionable judgment that gives you cause to worry about how she would comport herself while in possession of a smartphone, you may want to wait a bit longer before making the switch.

She Has a Basic Understanding of Appropriate and Safe Use

The Internet is a powerful educational tool, but it can also be a dangerous world for kids that aren’t fully apprised of the risks that come with irresponsible use. Before you hand a smartphone over to your tween or teen, make sure that she understands how imperative it is to maintain proper boundaries and privacy standards. From online predators to identity thieves, there is a plethora of ill-intentioned people in the world that would, if given the chance, take advantage of a child who isn’t aware of the dangers.

You Have an Open Dialogue Regarding Internet Safety and the Dangers of Cyberbullying

Unknown predators are the stuff of nightmares for parents, but your child’s peers can prove to be just as dangerous. Smartphones allow kids to access the wide range of information available through the Internet, but they also open them up to attacks from cyberbullies. Make sure that your child knows not only how to deal with cyberbullies that target her, but also all of the reasons why she should never, under any circumstances, engage in such hateful and harmful behavior herself. Only then is she truly ready for a smartphone.

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