Is Your Child Ready for a Smartphone?

The average age that children are getting their first Smartphones has dropped to around age 10, according to the research firm Influence Central, down from age 12 in 2012. For some children, Smartphone ownership starts even sooner — including kids as young as 7.

Having a cell phone isn’t just a luxury anymore, even for kids. It’s more of a necessity and a convenience for parents when it comes to staying connected in this busy world. Nonetheless, a Smartphone is a big responsibility for kids and for parents. Here are some things to consider as you embark on the journey of your child’s first cell phone.

You’ll just know. You know your child better than anyone else and most likely already know whether he or she is mature enough to handle a cell phone. If they are generally good at respecting rules and boundaries and take good care of the toys and gadgets they already have, they will likely to be able to handle the responsibility of a cell phone.

Rules and Responsibilities. Getting your first mobile phone comes with responsibility. It’s helpful to sit down and have a discussion to establish expectations and boundaries from the get-go to make sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to how the device is being used. To help parents with this important discussion, U.S. Cellular created an easy-to-use customizable Better Moments Parent-Child Agreement. You can remove, edit or add your own guidelines that work best for you and your child. Then just print and fill out the agreement together as you have your discussion.

Start simple. A child’s first cell phone doesn’t have to have all the bells and whistles. Why do you want them to have the phone? For safety? To check in with you? To communicate with friends? It’s a good idea to start out with a basic flip phone, then as they get older and prove their level of responsibility you take off the training wheels so-to-speak and upgrade them to a phone with more features. Chances are they already have a tablet with plenty of apps and games so they won’t be missing out.

When it comes to your child’s first cell phone, the decision isn’t one size fits all. It can be a daunting one, but you know your family best. Just take the time to do your own research and set the rules that work best for you and you’ll find that it’s not as scary as you might think.