Phones for kids is a hot-button issue and there are a lot of differing opinions! If you’ve been wondering what is the right age to give kids a cell phone, Google is here to help! Keep reading to learn about Google’s free digital wellbeing tools designed to help families create healthy technology habits. but This post was sponsored by Google in partnership with the Forward Influence Network. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Phones for Kids: How the Times Have Changed!
Do you remember your first cell phone?
I got my first cell phone when I was a senior in high school.
It was shaped like a brick.
The screen was grayscale.
There was no camera or internet access.
Whenever I went somewhere, I tucked my phone in the back pocket of my jeans. That way everyone could see it and just how cool I was with my own phone.
Today things are different and it seems like everyone has a phone — even kids.
In fact, the average child in the United States gets their first smart phone at 10 years of age. By the time kids reach age twelve, over 50% have their own social media accounts — despite the fact that the minimum age for many social media platforms is thirteen! (source)
Should Kids Have their Own Cell Phones?
If you asked me a couple years ago, my immediate response would have been “NO!!!”
When I first became a parent, I swore that my kids would not have cell phones until they were in high school like me.
However, the realities of life as a blended family meant that we needed to provide our oldest daughter with a cell phone a few years earlier than planned.
Doing so opened my eyes to the fact that perhaps kids should have cell phones in certain situations. The key is finding a balance with technology that feels right for you.
That’s where Google’s Digital Wellbeing tools really come in handy!
What is Google’s Digital Wellbeing Initiative?
No doubt, technology does so many amazing things for our lives. However, there are times when it can feel a bit overwhelming.
Google believes that technology should improve life, not distract from it — that’s why they created digital wellbeing tools like Family Link and Family Guide.
- Google’s Family Guide — Google’s Family Guide helps families navigate meaningful (but sometimes challenging) conversations about technology; providing talking points, expert tips, and activities designed to help create healthy habits.
- Family Link app from Google — Family Link is a Google app that allows you to set family ground rules for digital devices, like phones and tablets. It also guides your kids and teens as they learn to navigate the world of smart phones and the internet. With Family Link you can view kids’ device activity, manages apps and downloads, location info, and more!
When determining whether our oldest daughter was ready for a cell phone, we found both the Family Guide and Family Link app to be extremely helpful tools!
We also made sure to include her younger sister in the conversation, so she could see us working together as a family to establish a positive habits with our devices. Plus, she likes to use the family tablet from time to time.
Google’s Family Guide has 6 sections covering the following topics:
- Decide When and How to Use Devices
- Find Positive Content
- Determine When Your Kids are Ready for a Device
- Use Social Media Meaningfully and Responsibly
- Make Gaming a Positive Experience
- Balance Offline and Online Activities
Family Guide gave us helpful talking points and find out what our daughter thought about cell phones and how she would use one. What I especially liked is that Google provides thought-starters, but allows you to personalize the solutions that best fit your family.
Next, we set up the Family Link app on her phone and ours. This gives us peace of mind because we can see exactly how and when she uses her phone and ensure sure she only has access to age-appropriate apps. We even set daily limits on screen time usage.
I love having Google as our partner in this journey, empowering us to think differently about how technology fits into our family’s day-to-day life.
4 Reasons Why Kids Should Have Cell Phones
As we went through the Family Guide “Determine When Your Kids are Ready for a Device,” one of the prompts was to ask your child or teen why they think phones are important. Without hesitation, our eleven-year-old answered, “to call mom and dad if we need help!”
We thought that was a great answer, and in fact, safety is one of the main reasons many families are getting phones for kids.
As a blogger and a mom, I interact with other parents on a daily basis. The following are a few of the main reasons parents tell me that they decided to give their child a cell phone:
1. Disappearing Landlines
Many homes don’t have landlines anymore (ours included!) When children visit a friend’s house, a cell phone is often the easiest way to get ahold of them.
2. School Safety
It hurts my heart to even think about anything happening while my kids are at school. However, I personally know parents who got emergency cell phones for kids so they could call home right away.
3. Blended Families
Blended families often include cell phones in parenting plans as a way to stay in contact with a child when they are at the other parent’s house.
4. Young Drivers
When teens reach driving age, a cell phone is a safety measure. Smart phones provide navigation services as well as a way to call for help if your teen experiences car trouble.
Even though my daughters aren’t driving age yet (phew!) I make sure to stress the importance of safely stowing cell phones while driving. I never text and drive, because it’s dangerous and I want to set a positive example for our kids.
The no-texting-and-driving rule is included in our teen cell phone contract, which we signed together with our oldest daughter when she got her phone.
What is the Right Age to Give Kids a Cell Phone?
Just as the reasons for giving kids cell phones are different for every family, so is the “right” age.
Of course, every family situation is different and some of these may or may not apply to your family.
What I’ve learned through my parenting journey so far is that things don’t always go quite the way we plan, and that it’s important to be open to new ideas.
Do I wish we didn’t have a reason to give kids phones at a young age? YES!
But I understand that the realities of today’s world make it a necessity for some families, like ours.
That’s why I encourage you to check out Google’s Digital Wellbeing tools and work through the free guides to find the solutions that work for your family.
- To discover more tips and tools like the Family Guide, visit wellbeing.google to find a balance with technology that feels right for the whole family.
Your turn: At what age did you or do you plan to give your kid(s) a cell phone? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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