At what age should junior get a mobile phone?

Get top tips from the experts, so that your offspring use their smartphone safely, both online and off.

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Smartphones
are a necessity today especially among gadget whiz kids who are more likely to use their phones to “chat” with his pals than talk to them face to face.

And unless they own a smartphone, junior will now find it more difficult to meet up with their friends. After all, a lot of how they communicate is done on the phone through messaging applications like WhatsApp and social media. Notes Enon Landenberg, founder of parental control app, Bosco, “A child who does not have a phone is left out of the communication stream and will most probably be — in the end — out of the group.”

Of course, owning a phone can also expose your kiddo to a variety of online — such as cyberbullying — and offline risks like smartphone addiction. So, the decision to buy them a phone isn’t one you should take lightly.

Dr Lim Boon Leng of Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, points out that a smartphone gives your child access to an “alternate world” that can be dangerous. That’s why you need to supervise your child’s smartphone and Internet use and restrict access to adult content.

This is why Dr Lim suggests that you should let your mini-me use the phone under your supervision when they are aged 10 or older. Full phone access should only be granted when they are 15 and after they show maturity and restraint in their on- and offline behaviour.

 

“A child who does not have a phone is left out of the communication stream and will most probably be — in the end — out of the group.”

 

However, other experts SmartParents spoke to agree that there is no “right” age for junior to own a smartphone. Advises digital literacy educator and parent coach at SgVillage, Carol Loi, “It’s a matter of watching out for their developmental readiness [as] children mature at different ages.”

Landenberg adds, “The truth is that at a young age — from 7 to 9 — the phone is used by parents to communicate with their children.”