First smartphone under the tree? Get them off to the right start - right now!

This holiday season, many kids have only a single item on their wishlist: a smartphone. Should you give in to the pleading (“I neeeeeeed a phone!”) and the promises (“Of course you can trust me to be sensible!!!!!!”)? And if you do, what's the best way to support a healthy digital journey?

That first phone is a rite of passage for today’s kids. And it’s a milestone that’s happened at ever-younger ages. According to Finder's Parenting Report 2021, which surveyed 1,033 Aussie parents, over a third (35%) of kids under 12 now have a smartphone - a whopping 50% increase from just three years ago. 

And of those under-12s with phones, the average age for receiving it was just over 7.5 years old!

The study also found significant regional differences in early phone ownership. In New South Wales, nearly half (45%) of under-12s owned their own smartphone. That’s twice as many as in South Australia.

Over a third (35%) of Aussie kids under 12 now have a smartphone - a whopping 50% increase from just three years ago. 

According to figures from the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the largest jump in phone ownership comes between the ages of 12 and 13. 76% of kids in this bracket own their phones, up from 33% of 10 to 11-year-olds. 

So what's the safest age?

But age alone should not be the deciding factor when it comes to smartphone ownership, experts agree - including the American Academy of Pediatrics.  

“It’s difficult to prescribe a precise chronological age when it’s safe and/or appropriate,” says Family Zone cyber expert Dr. Kristy Goodwin. “I recommend delaying the decision until you feel your child is emotionally mature and responsible." 

Are they responsible with their other belongings? Can they adhere to offline rules and boundaries? If not, their online behaviour is unlikely to be different. 

Remember, your child may be tech-savvy but they make lack the social and emotional skills required to safely use the device. 

Making the call

  1. Consider their emotional maturity before buying them a phone. You’re giving them a powerful tool that can do much more than take and receive phone calls.
  2. Is a voice-and-text-only phone - a.k.a. a dumbphone -  a better option? If they need to be in touch or if the phone is purely for safety reasons this may be your best bet. 
  3. At any rate, keep it simple. Kids lose things and drop them - constantly. Giving them the expensive phone of their dreams may be simply setting them up for failure. 
  4. Consider offering a first phone on a trial basis. This gives you a chance to test out those promises of safe and sensible use.
  5. Set up firm rules about how, what, when and where the phone can be used. A written contract that sets out your expectations, and your child's responsibilities, is the best first step. Family Zone has created a great one you can print at home. Download it here.
  6. Install strong, flexible parental controls that are age-appropriate for your child, to block adult content, limit social media and gaming, and manage study and bedtime use. 



With Family Zone, you can keep your children's screen-time healthy, on their new phone - and every device, everywhere.  

Create a home where your digital family can thrive, and start your free trial today.

 

 

 

Tell me more!

Topics: Cyber Bullying, Parental Controls, Screen time, Mobile Apps, Excessive Device Usage, online safety, first smartphone

    Try Family Zone for FREE

    Sign up now to try Family Zone for 1 month, totally free of charge.

    Free Trial
    Subscribe to our newsletter
    Follow us on social media
    Popular posts
    Parental Controls | Cyber Safety | Cyber Experts | parenting | roblox
    Roblox: What parents must know about this dangerous game for kids
    Parental Controls | Mobile Apps | Cyber Safety | teens on social media
    Can we talk? 100 questions your teen might actually answer
    Parental Controls | Screen time | youtube | smartphones | WhatsApp | suicide | self-harm | momo
    MOMO unmasked
    Parental Controls | Screen time | online gaming | roblox | sleep
    Family Zone: Now blocking Roblox with a single click
    Parental Controls | Screen time | teens on social media | wellbeing | dating app
    Swipe right for trouble: Six teen dating apps parents need to know about
    Cyber Bullying | Parental Controls | Screen time | Mobile Apps | Cyber Safety | online predators | tiktok | paedophile | child predator | Likee
    LIKEE: What parents need to know about this risky TikTok wannabe

    Recent posts

     
    Press the reset button on your kid’s online routine

    COVID blew up our teens’ screen-time. It’s time to get them back on track. In the wake of the COVID pandemic, our children are facing a ...

     
    Bigger families face super-sized screen-time challenges

    If you have more than one child - and statistics show 86 percent of families do - then managing screen-time can be double trouble. Or ...

     
    'Bigorexia' a growing risk for today's boys

    We’re starting to understand how social media can damage girls’ self-esteem - but what about our boys? New research finds disturbing ...

     
    The metaverse: Brave new world - or an upgrade for predators?

    Mixing kids and adult strangers in a self-moderated online environment ... What could possibly go wrong?