Here at My Gator Watch, we are passionate about allowing kids to be kids for as long as possible. We want kids to enjoy the outdoors and thrive amongst family and friends. We know that introducing smartphones too early can be determinantal to a child’s physical and mental health. Not only can it affect sleep patterns and impact social relationships, but it can also leave them wide open to bullying and online predators.
With this being said, we also know that as they grow older (especially throughout secondary school) there will be a time and place for smartphones. But when is the right time to buy a smartphone for your kid? As a team of mums ourselves, we know all too well that it’s an impossible question to answer. So this week we want to talk about the things you should be considering before you hand over a smartphone to your teenager. Here we go!
DO THEY REALLY NEED IT
Do they REALLY need a smartphone? Or do they really WANT one? Your kids will more than likely start telling you that they “need” a smartphone about five years before they actually do! If everyone else in their class has a smartphone, don’t just take their word for it. Get the low down from other parents and find out if they have smartphones and more importantly, why. Other kids might need a smartphone for different reasons.
ARE THEY ABLE TO ABIDE BY BOUNDARIES
Allowing your kids to have a smartphone isn’t as easy as picking a contract and handing it over. From the moment they have that phone in their hand, you will be setting boundaries. Now is the time to think about how your kids handle boundries in general? Are they willing to obide by your general house rules at home? Are they able to reason with you rationally if they don’t agree with a rule? If the answer is no, then they may need more time to mature before being handed a device full of boundaries!
ARE THEY ABLE TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR PROPERTY
Smartphones are expensive. Is your child able to look after their personal property, or do they tend to lose things at every opportunity? If they haven’t yet got the hang of keeping their items safe, then maybe wait until they have had more time to perfect this skill.
HOW DO THEY BEHAVE IN SOCIAL SITUATIONS
One of the significant risks of smartphones is online bullying. It is one of our biggest fears as parents when we buy our kids a smartphone. But have you paused to consider how your child behaves in social situations? Are they kind, empathetic and thoughtful to their family and friends? Or do they tend to lash out and become irritated quickly when faced with conflict? We have to remember that it is MUCH easier to say things online than it is face to face. If your child is struggling to control their feelings during day to day interactions, they may not be ready to have access to the online world.
CAN THEY WAIT
Super simple, but can they wait? Can you postpone this chapter of their life for a little bit longer?
ARE YOU WILLING TO PARENT THE PHONE
Do you have time to invest in monitoring and essentially parenting their phone? There will be restrictions that you will be able to add onto the phone before your kid gets their hands on it. Do you have time to research those and keep tabs on them? Are you willing to ask your kids for spot checks and stay informed about the apps that they are using?
HOW MUCH SOCIAL ACCESS ARE YOU WILLING TO ALLOW
Considering how much access you are willing to allow will help you decide whether or not your child is ready. Are you willing to let them have access to Facebook? Should they be allowed to share live updates on Instagram? If the thought of social apps makes you wince, then delaying a smartphone for a bit longer may be the best option for you.
ARE YOU READY
Don’t forget that it’s ok to feel your child is ready, but you’re not. If you’re not prepared, then you can safely bet that most other parents feel the same. Allowing your child to have a smartphone will affect the whole family. If now isn’t the time, then so be it!
So there we have it! How do you feel about smartphones? Do you feel pressure from your kids? Do you have an idea of when you would like to introduce smartphones? We would love to know your thoughts on this. Join the conversation in the comments below or via our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Pages.
My Gator Watch is a wearable mobile phone designed especially for 5-12-year-olds. It uses GPS, two-way calling, works across multiple networks and has an SOS feature for peace of mind. It does not have a messaging feature, and you, the parent; determine all numbers that are pre-set within the phone.
For more information and prices, please click here.