Whether you are a parent or not, it is a fact that the majority of kids today will have access to a smart mobile device at an early age. However, the questions on most parents’ minds are:
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), you should not encourage media use for children under 2 years old. The brain develops better through unstructured playtime and human interaction and heavy media usage under 2 is a risk to language development of your child.
Even when a child is ready to be introduced to a smart device, it is also advisable not to do so at a go. Granting access to media should be done one step at a time. Kids are generally tech-savvy and can be awfully persuasive. They have their own ideas about responsibility and unless you have set rules in place, you may end up making an unwise decision in this area.
It would also be unwise to purchase a smart device for your child when you do not know what it entails. The Internet is an interesting place to explore, but its also a dangerous place for an inexperienced mind. Child predators and pornography are some of the dangers that lurk and your child is exposed to these once they have access to a smart device with an Internet connection.
According to AAP, allow your child one more hour of access to media every four years:
Generally, at 2-5 years old, children can have limited use of digital devices with access to educational media aimed at development. On average, a child can start using the Internet at Age 3.
At 6-9 years, they can have their own tablet which should be strictly monitored.
At 10-12 years old, they can own a cellphone that should also be strictly monitored.
At 13-17 years old, they can own a smartphone with less restrictions.
The above are simply guidelines that can help parents considering purchasing smart devices for their kids
Online Child Safety websites all agree on one thing when it comes to smart devices and children: Parents need to monitor and enforce strict guidelines on how to use such devices. It is not only irresponsible but dangerous to simply purchase a smartphone for a child and expect them to use these responsibly.
One way to set clear guidelines is to lay out some ground rules on when a smartphone should be used. For instance, you might decide that smartphones should not be used after 8:00PM or at the dinner table.
Another important way is to monitor and control your child’s smartphone activity. There are now tools that can help parents do this without being too nossy. Some of these tools will send alerts when a child accesses or attempts to access questionable sites. These tools can also monitor conversations.
All in all, there is not set age as to when a child should own a smart device. The maturity of the child, their needs, and the above guidelines, should help a parent make an informed decision in this matter.
Written by David Gitonga – Tech Enthusiast