Smartphones are everywhere, but your child or teen might not necessarily be ready for one. Children don’t magically awaken one morning equipped for smartphone ownership. All kids are unique and require unique approaches. While each child has different wants and needs — and every family has their own set of values — these 4 questions can help guide parents before deciding to purchase a smartphone for their kid.
1. Are they losing things?
Smartphones aren’t cheap, and your child is likely not ready for one if they can’t keep track of the less expensive things they already own. “I have 12 1/2-year-old twin daughters, and I'm really in the thick of this right now,” says Dr. Jerry Bubrick, senior director of the Anxiety Disorders Center at the Child Mind Institute. “And so one of the things we talk about is, are they constantly losing things? Because that's not going to bode well for a phone. Have they been able to handle other electronics, almost like training wheels, leading up to a phone?” Dr. Bubrick’s ultimate point is, if a child can’t handle less important objects, they’re likely not ready for a smartphone.
2. Are they responsible?
Parents can determine whether their child is ready for a phone from other activities they engage in. “I would be looking at, are they responsible about other things in their lives independently?” Dr. Bubrick says. “Do they come home and just jump into homework? Or do they have to be reminded 17 times to do homework?”