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06th Oct 2023

HerFamily readers have their say on what age is appropriate to give a kid a phone

Sophie Collins

Five kids all on smartphones

Handing over a phone to your child for the first time can feel like a daunting task.

With everything that can be accessed online with the touch of a button, having reservations about giving them a phone is completely natural.

We asked the HerFamily readers to give us their opinions on the topic, and lots of mums across the country gave us some top tips, warnings and revealed the mistakes they’ve made over the years so you don’t have to.

One mum says she regrets giving her child a phone because of her behaviour since getting her hands on the device.

The mum said: “I gave our 11 year old one – I regret it.

“She’s always checking messages, creating Tik tok dances with her friends and it’s a daily argument when we ask her to put it away.

“She does. But I just wished I’d waited until she was 13 and starting secondary school.”

Kid's making a dancing video

Once kids are given access to apps like TikTok and Instagram, even the child proof settings embedded in the apps can miss younger teens – they’ll always find a way to make a profile if they want one bad enough.

One mum’s solution to avoiding this altogether is giving her kids phones – just not the ones they want.

She said: “My two were 7 and 10, but it was not a smart phone they got first. It was a basic brick phone.

“They are 12 and 15 now and have smart phone a while.

“Earlier than I would have wanted but they got our old ones when we upgraded.

“Eldest only got snapchat and Tick Tock last year. She was going to delete snapchat again but her class groups have chat set up which is handy for homework questions.

“Especially as she doesn’t have all their numbers. Youngest has neither app and doesn’t even take her phone out with her unless she is leaving the estate.

“So you could give a child a phone very young you just don’t have to give a smart phone.”

Mum and daughter sharing iphone

Another parent said the issue isn’t whether or not you decide to give your child a phone, it’s whether you know how to police it properly and ensure all child locks are in place.

“Giving a phone isnt the problem,” she said.

“Its policing it correctly. Parents need to be able to check them and have control over what apps they allow kids to have. Bullying is rife on some of the social media outlets.”

Another said having a phone is essential for her kids because their dad lives so far away, but she also uses it to keep an eye on where they are.

“Totally different in every case,” she advised.

“My son has a phone since he was 7 so I can call him when he’s with his dad, who I don’t speak to, 2 hours away.

“I also have GPS tracking on it so when he’s down there I know he’s safe.

“A phone is one thing, social media is another. That he doesn’t have.”

As for what the experts think, Dr. Jerry Bubrick,PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute says: “When you’re considering whether to get a phone, and how much kids should be allowed to do on it he recommends considering these issues:

  • How often does your child lose things, especially expensive things? If you tell them something is extra important, do they take special care of it, or leave it on the bus after a few days?
  • How well does your child handle money? Will they be in the middle of a game and impulsively buy more lives without considering their cost?
  • Consider how easily your kid picks up on social cues. If they are slow to catch on, this deficit could be aggravated in texting and posting on social media
  • How savvy is your child about technology? Do they truly understand that future college admissions staff, employers, and colleagues could conceivably see anything they post now?
  • How well does your child do with limits to screen time? If they are constantly glued to the computer or game console, they will probably have difficulty putting down the phone as well.


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