Kids under ten years old should have phones to stay connected to their parents or guardians.
In 2020, childhood is much different from that of parents of today. This discrepancy, being born in a different generation without as advanced technology, leads many parents to question whether they should give their kids phones, making this one of the few times that they can not look to their own parents’ teachings to decipher their next move. Due to this, many parents decide not to give their children phones because they did not have one when they were children, so their child should not either. This mentality is unfortunate because these parents are missing out on the ability to not only communicate with their children when they are not with them but also to have instant knowledge of their child’s whereabouts. Through many arguments are shown regarding younger kids and phones, the most prevailing ideas are always the undeniable safety that comes with smartphones.
Cell phones facilitate communication between family members and allow kids to tell their parents when a practice or club gets out early or they need to stay later. It also allows parents to tell their children if they are running late or if they should be expecting to see someone else picking them up.
Children can also use cell phones to contact family members or law enforcement in dire situations or in a tragedy. If something happens to a child when they are not home, they have the ability to call for help.
There are also various technologies that allow parents to track their children via smartphones. Apps such as Life360 allow parents to know where their children are at any time of the day by merely looking on their phone – a safety tool that is not otherwise attainable without giving children smartphones. These technologies could also have possibly assisted in the reduced number of missing children: a 2002 study by the U.S. Department of Justice found that 797,500 children were reported missing that year but in 2019, the FBI found that there were only 421,394 children reported missing. This shows how in a time before smartphones, in 2002, missing child rates were higher than they were in a more current time with smartphones, 2019.
Despite the potential tragic consequences, there are still those who decide there are too many negatives to giving their child a smartphone, despite the fact that almost any concern a parent could have regarding a phone has a remedy. Such concerns include too much screen time, breaking or losing the phone, and oversharing personal information with strangers. However, every one of these concerns has a solution.
If a parent is concerned about their child spending too much time on their phone, the parent can set limits before giving the phone and establish certain times that the phone should be put away. “No sleeping with your phone,” Catherine Steiner-Adair suggests in her book The Big Disconnect, which comments on preserving human-to-human moments of connection as families continue to become more and more plugged in. “The phone stays off during homework and family meals.”
Regarding the problem of a child losing or breaking a phone, the parent can establish prior to giving the phone that if the phone breaks, there won’t be another one, making the child value the phone more and take better care of it.
In relation to the issue of a child oversharing and posting something inappropriate, the parent can monitor the child’s social media, so the child is less likely to post something they would not want their parents to see.
To resolve most issues, parents can establish that they know the password to the child’s phone and they have the right to take it away for any reason the parents see fit.
As younger children are exposed to the scary new world, parents can give their child a lifeline where they can always contact their parents. Giving smartphones to children should be more investigated before being dismissed, as there are plenty of ways to use phones that aid parents and allow children to feel more comfortable