Calling All Parents: The Pros And Cons Of Phones For Kids

There’s no denying that we’re reliant on our mobile phones. Look around you next time you’re out, and take note of how many people have their heads in those little screens. Chances are, there are more people on phones than not. And, few of us use them for their primary purpose. Instead, we rely on them to enhance our lives in every other way. And, of course, we still use them to stay connected. Instead of talking, we communicate on social media, or through apps like Whatsapp. In fact, it would be entirely possible to own a phone and never use its original features.

This phone obsessed age has caused many divided opinions. There are arguments for, and against using your phone to such a degree. As a parent, it’s important to keep yourself informed. Children are getting phones at a younger age. It won’t be long until you have to make a hard decision about whether to follow the crowd. You may be dead set against it, but it isn’t easy to deny your child when everyone in their class has one. Plus, there’s no denying that phones have their benefits. We’re going to look the pros and cons, to help you make an informed decision when the time comes.

phones for kids
Photo credit via pixabay.com..

The Pros

Let’s start with the positives. The main benefit of allowing your child to have a phone is a safety one. This has been the argument since phones became a thing, and it continues to be a good point. If your child ever has an accident or gets lost, they can call you. Plus, you can hunt them down if they miss their curfew. You could even go to the extreme of installing a tracker on their phone so that you know where they are at all times. Knowing that you have an easy way to get in touch with your child will put your mind at ease. You’ll be able to loosen the reins and rest easy that you can pull them in again the moment you need to. But, if we’re arguing from a safety point, a basic phone would be adequate. You could buy a bog standard model, with no features other than call and text. 

Yet, many parents let their kids have the latest smartphones going. So, safety can’t be the only benefit. Having a cell also allows your child to build more developed friendships. You may think that they shouldn’t need a phone to do this. We managed it, right? But now, all children communicate through their phones. Your child may well miss out on important friendship conversations. If all their friends are involved in a group chat on their phones, your kid will fast feel out of the loop. Causing a divide like this isn’t going to help anyone. If anything, it will make your child unhappy, and cause them to withdraw from friendships they’re unable to fully take part in. We all need to acknowledge that the way we communicate has changed. So, you don’t want to dis-communicate your child.

phones for kids
Photo credit via flickr.

It’s also worth mentioning the educational benefits a phone can hold when used right. With technology what it is, even homework involves apps and websites. Plus, the internet in itself is a wealth of information. And, there are plenty of educational apps out there, too. Chances are, your kid isn’t going to search for them. But, you could always sit down with them and find things you think would help them to learn. If you find fun apps that engage them, they’re likely to play them when you aren’t around, too. You also want to ensure that they can do all their homework. Yes, you may have a computer at home they can use. But, it’ll be much easier for them to do their work if they can access the resources alone.

Last on our list of pros; we’re going to look at the responsibility a phone can teach your child. To enhance the level of responsibility, it’s worth sticking with a pay as you go, rather than contract phone. That way, you child will have first-hand control over how they spend their texts and minutes. With communication options other than texts and calls, this isn’t as important as it once was. But, it’s still something to consider. A phone could be the first step towards teaching your child financial responsibility.

Cons

It would be naive to assume that giving your kid a cell will be all rainbows. There are some negatives that need consideration if you want to make an informed decision. The main argument against a phone is the fact that it takes things a little more out of your control. There’s no denying that you can set restrictions as you see fit, but these only go so far. For the most part, you have no way to control what happens on that phone. This is worrying for a variety of reasons.

Children, especially as they enter their teen years are secretive as it is. A phone gives them yet another way to keep things from you. And, the risks of them keeping secrets in this way can be severe. You can hope that they don’t speak to anyone but their friends, but that’s not always the case. Online communication gives undesirable people easy access to your child. In the worst case scenario, they may develop a friendship, then meet up with that person in real life.

Sadly, trust won’t help you here. In fact, it can become a hindrance. Your child may keep their new friend, and their plans, a secret because they don’t want to let you down. The best way around the problem is to keep the conversation open. Don’t fly off the handle if you find out they’ve been talking to a stranger. Chances are, they won’t stop. But, they will stop talking to you about it. That’s not what you want. If you find out this has been going on, play it cool. It doesn’t hurt to outline the risks, but don’t forbid the communication. Ask about their new friend now and again to keep the conversation going. If they do insist on a meeting, make sure you go with them. That way, no harm can be done.

Another major con is the fact that children are clumsy. Do you trust your kid to keep an expensive phone in one piece? If not, you need to have a plan in place. Buying a new phone every time they break the one they have will cost you. Instead, you may have to consider something like CPR Cell Phone Repair. Getting their phone repaired will save you money. Though, it’s still going to cost if you have to do it often. If your child breaks their phone more than once, it might be worth getting them to pay some money towards repair. That’ll be an incentive to take better care next time.

phones for kids
By Drapplesi (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s also important to mention that a phone is another thing to keep them from the real world. For years, children have spent too much time in front of televisions and games consoles. Do you want to add another screen into their lives? It’s thought that children spend an average of seven hours a day in front of a screen. And, the addition of a phone is sure to see that time increase. We should be encouraging our children to go out and experience the world. A phone will not help in that goal.

Melanie Kampman

Melanie Kampman is a web designer, developer and owner of Giveaway Bandit and Farm News for Kids. She lives in Northwest Missouri on a large family farm with her husband and eight year old son, the Giveaway Bandit. They raise cattle with a variety of pets including horses, chickens, ducks, and a slew of cats. By Melanie Kampman If you are interested in writing a sponsored post on Giveaway Bandit please email me at melanie (at) giveawaybandit (dot) com.

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