“My child is begging me for a smartphone! I think he is too young but he is the last kid in his class to get one. What is the right age???”
At KLIKD we get asked this question daily! Ideally you want to delay as long as possible, but device readiness is not about your child’s age. Device readiness is about your child’s maturity and accountability. This means:
- how accountable is my child to him/herself
- can they stand up for themselves in real life
- can they support others when they are being treated unfairly or unkindly in real life?
- How do they manage their schedule?
- Are they in a good sleep cycle, getting up and going to bed when agreed on in your family?
The answers to these questions inform whether your child is ready for a phone far more easily (and truthfully) than saying now they are 10 or 13 or 15!
Most importantly as a parent, you want to ask yourself if you have been able to have an easy comfortable conversation with your potential screenager about the device ground rules, password sharing etc? Do you trust your that your relationship with your child is solid enough for them to come to you when things online are a little tricky?
And then…EEEK!! Should I allow my child to download the Apps his friends have?
Once your child has a phone, it is always first prize to download an app one at a time. So perhaps if they want to be on a WhatsApp group, you would allow that first with you monitoring their engagement style, how they respond to others, themselves etc. Once you are comfortable you can add an app or two, ensuring that you can check in with them and their way of relating.
At KLIKD we always also suggest that, to begin with, younger kids just OBSERVE interactions before diving straight in. As a parent, you can then ask how they might have dealt with situations before they actually put themselves out there. For example, let them join a class WhatsApp group without saying anything for a few weeks. Ask your child how he/she might respond to certain posts. This gives you a chance to see if your child is really ‘app ready’. Of course, check out the ages restrictions as guidelines too. Check out out out nifty checklist to see whether you should be downloading the new/app or game your child is begging for and our app review for the good, the bad and the ugly on all the latest apps.
When handing over that phone, even if it is because you felt pressured to do so, make sure that your child understands YOUR motives – that you want to them to show up as kind, curious and engaged. We do not want our children to be passive consumers of content but active and creative contributors.
With this in mind, we suggest two pre-requisites before handing over the phone:
- Download our social media contract – a fabulous ready-to-go document to stick on the fridge.
- Get your child to complete/ his her Social Media License by signing up to our KLIKD APP.. an online course comprised of fun, engaging activities, simulations and quizzes, giving your child all the skills and sass to use social media successfully, safely and happily, and you the peace of mind you need. It comes along with an entire Ebook of conversations starters for you, the parent to stay connected to your screenager and their online life without doing all the hard work!
Sarah and Pam