Tuesday, June 25, 2024
Smartphone news

What age should you buy a child a smartphone?

When should you let your child have a smartphone?

Increasingly parents are buying their children smartphones at very young ages– but is this a good thing?

One survey even found that a quarter of six-year-olds have their own phones but Philip Arneill, Head of Education & Innovation with CyberSafeKids, said it might be best to wait.

“We would always encourage parents and guardians to hold off as long as possible,” he told The Hard Shoulder.

However, he acknowledged that many parents feel they need to give their child a phone so they can remain in contact.

“We understand that there are security concerns if your child’s going to school by themselves, for example,” he said.

“But the other thing to think about as well is with younger children, it’s not just about smartphones – because they’re also using tablets and [games] consuls.

“Whether it’s smartphone, a tablet or a games consul, what’s really key is supervision, monitoring and discussion of children’s online lives – in exactly the same way as you would in an offline capacity.”

‘Huge pressure’

Also, speaking on the programme, Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr Patricia Byrne said parents need to consider whether their child is using a phone to access inappropriate material.

“When we watch a movie or a television show, they’re all age rated,” she said.

“We wouldn’t bring our child down to the middle of the main street of any of our local towns and say, ‘I’ll see you back in an hour, be fine, be safe.’

“And yet, internet smartphones with lots of wonderful technology, lot of great things, are also a wide open technology.

“It’s about getting the right amount of information and… supports at the [right] time for a young child.”

Dr Byrne said she is aware many parents are  “under huge pressure” to buy their children smartphones but said there are significant risks that come with them.

“The single biggest conversation that I would have with my many young people presenting in a crisis… was often with parents saying, ‘How do I manage their phones? What do I do?’” she said.

“There’s a real sense with an inability to regulate this and a feeling of pressure to be able to provide your children with what everybody else is providing them with.

“That’s really hard, as a parent myself I come under pressure to do those things.”

The Government is understood to be considering a ban on smartphones in schools.

Main image: Children texting on their phones in the back seat. Picture by: Tetra Images / Alamy Stock Photo


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