A 3-year-old that doesn’t know how to navigate an extremely complicated smartphone might be a weird child in 2020, considering that nowadays even children as young as 2 know where to find Youtube Kids and navigate to their favourite cartoons. Prior to this digital age, 2-year-olds were making up toys and playing outside the house.
In light of Netflix productions such as Cuties and The Social Dilemma, questions around the age appropriateness of phone usage have come to the fore.
The response to this may differ from household to household, depending on the need. Sometimes, parents need to have access to their younger kids, and thus they purchase a phone. Some even use it for their GPS capabilities (to track the child).
Research from Influence Central’s 2016 Digital Trends Study show that the average age of a child getting a phone is 10.3 years.
But many people argue that there is a reason most social media apps have an age limit of between 12 and 13, such as Facebook’s age limit of 13.
A lot of parents are concerned about the level of sexual solicitation that is happening on social media at an age when kids are particularly impressionable. Maybe the solution lies in keeping this group of kids away from, not only social media but using a phone, many argue.
Software Developer and mogul Bill Gates never gave his children devices until they turned 14. Speaking to The Mirror, Gates said he only gave his kids phones when they were in high school.
The important question to ask is whether or not your children ‘need’ a phone. If not, it’s a better idea, if you are concerned for their safety online, to not buy one for them.
According to Digital Media Law Expert Emma Sadlier, it is advisable to not buy a phone for your children until they are in high school. This is usually at age 14. The cases she has seen through her firm are forming the basis of her decision to keep young children away, not only from social media, but from a phone entirely.
Families are not the same, which means that decisions around phone acquisition and usage will not be the same.
Karabo Mokoena is a wife, a girl mom, a writer and content creator. She is the Resident Contributor for Parenty and a Mommy Blogger, creating relatable parenting content for her blog Black Mom Chronicles. You can engage with her on her Instagram and Facebook pages. She is a Political Science graduate, who has worked in Human Resources for most of her professional career. She loves engaging with people, thus her choice to specialise in recruitment. She loves telling stories and sharing her life’s journey to brighten someone else’s day