TAGSparentingdigital citizenshipphonedevice

Thanks for your question.

So the question is: What age

should I give my child a cell phone?

And should it be a smart phone or a flip phone?

And I believe your child is 10 years old.

Like many decisions like this,

it's more about when they're ready,

and is there a need for the phone.

Is you child developmentally ready to have a phone?

Are they going to be responsible with the phone?

Are they going to take care of it? Lose it? Break it?

Will they use it productively?

And then, do they need the phone?

So, you don't always have to have a need

to get something fun for your child,

but you can feel good about saying,

"No" if there is no need for it.

You know, it's okay to wait.

By need, I think, you know,

is the child on their own for a duration

during the day? Maybe not at home

where they might need the phone

to access you or where you want to access them.

Are they babysitting? Maybe doing

something outside of the home where

they'll need a phone for a ride.

Or, is there somebody that they can get

a ride from or use a phone from

so that they don't need it?

I think the need to indicate whether or not

you need a smartphone or a flip-phone,

and then also what you want your child

to be able to do with the phone.

Also, cost. So, can you afford the phone?

Can you afford the service?

You may consider having your child

chip-in for the phone, and taking part

in the responsibilities for the actual

phone or the service.

That can also instill some responsibility

about taking care of the phone.

Finally, if you do decide to move forward

with the phone, and I believe the

average age for children getting phones,

the last time I checked is 12 years old.

But that shouldn't mean that, you know,

you need a phone by 12, or that

10 is too young. Again, it's about

whether you're child is ready

and is there a need and use for the phone.

But, if you do decide to move forward

with the phone, or any kind of digital device,

you want to be a savvy consumer.

Make sure it's something appropriate for a child.

And you want to teach responsible digital citizenship.

You want to make sure that your child is

aware of appropriate and

inappropriate digital behavior.

A good rule of thumb is, anything that

you type or say, you want to make sure

that they would be comfortable with you

hearing it or reading it.

And I would monitor it very heavily

at least in the beginning, and if you see

inappropriate, or even just something

that's seems like it could be really

innocent, but slightly inappropriate

or misinterpreted, when in doubt

have a conversation about it,

because that's how your child will learn

good digital citizenship.

If you do see something inappropriate,

don't panic, but feel free to enforce your rules.

Don't be afraid to scale back.

It's okay if you didn't have enough

rules to start with.

You just want to make sure that you're

comfortable and that your child is safe,

because that's your most important job,

is to keep your child safe.

Good luck with the decision.

And, you know, have fun with it.

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