Days of asking for dolls, firetrucks, science kits, and fake musical instruments are slowly turning into adolescents asking adults for gifts of tablets, laptops, smartwatches, and smartphones.
With how technology has advanced over the years, there are many choices for families to choose from, which can be overwhelming. Then there is the question of; What is the appropriate age for a young person to own a smartphone or are they ready for owning a phone? Lots of components go into the decision of owning a phone: phones are expensive, data plans can be costly, owning a phone is a big responsibility, and there’s the risk of cyberbullying and stumbling upon unsafe apps or websites. But owning a smartphone can help with responsibility, can be an important tool for those busy teens with multiple extracurriculars, a helpful way to form connections with friends, and an easy way for someone to reach out in an emergency.
So, if someone is deciding to take the big step to get the adolescent in their life a smartphone this holiday season, here are a few simple tips to help the smartphone be a useful tool, not a distraction:
- Ask your cell phone carrier if there are any child safety options that can be applied to the phone for internet browsing filters
- Talk to adolescents about the importance of reporting cyberbullying or unsafe cyber contact
- Set a good example: no cell phones at dinner, while driving or when going to bed
- Discuss with adolescents the importance of thinking before posting or before joining social media
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