Dear Mom and Dad: You’re not alone.
Most parents raising kids today are questioning what age is appropriate for their child to have a phone. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t simple.
Each child is different, developing at their own pace with their own unique experiences and personalities. And each parent approaches this question with their own set of values and perspectives on age-appropriateness.
“When children are given a phone too early, they are more likely to be exposed to bullying, sexual content, and violence,” said Dr. Alyssa Killebrew, a licensed clinical psychologist and owner of Killebrew Psychological Services in Ridgeland, Mississippi. “Give them a phone too late, and they could feel isolated from their peers and lack a familiarity with technology that could put them behind.”
The right age.
The American Psychological Association suggests that children could be mature enough for a phone anywhere from 10 to 14 or during middle school. More specifically, sixth grade could be the right time to consider a phone since this is the age that kids are staying later after school or riding the bus.
Killebrew agrees. “A safe age to consider a first phone with no data or access to social media is around 11 to 12,” she said. “They only need to be able to communicate with their parents at that age. And if they have handled it responsibly, 13 is a good age to consider a smartphone with some social media privileges.”
Here are some factors parents should consider:
- Assess their maturity level. Are they responsible enough to be held accountable for the content they share and consume? Are they able to follow rules and accept the consequences if rules are broken?
- Determine ground rules like screen-free time and always answering a parent’s text or call. Also consider signing the C Spire Family Online Safety Pledge, which is a contract for kids and teens who access the internet.
- Set up parental controls. Each phone has different capabilities, so explore your options and what’s right for your family here.
- Communicate often. Regularly talk with your kids about their phone experiences, which will help them appropriately process what they’ve Learn more about how to have hard conversations with your kids.
Family Online Safety Pledge
C Spire Connect & Protect Plan
The C Spire Connect & Protect plan gives parents tools to easily track their kid’s location, restrict content, limit screen time, set boundaries for social media, and help protect them online at any age.
Read more helpful articles in the Parents’ Resource Center.