How old were you when you bought your first cellphone? What about your kids? Grandkids? Last year, research firm Influence Central found the average age for children to get their first smartphone was 10.3 years old!
The firm only surveyed 500 women, but that age got a lot of people wondering if there’s a “right age.” Experts have offered differing opinions, but, of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
When it comes to Bill Gates’ household, he and his wife, Melinda, decided 14 was the right age. During a recent interview, Gates said he doesn’t allow phones at the dinner table and limits screen time before bedtime.
“You’re always looking at how it can be used in a great way — homework and staying in touch with friends — and also where it has gotten to excess,” said Gates.
His oldest, Jennifer, is 20; his son, Rory, is 17; and his youngest, Phoebe, is 14. He said his kids naturally complained when other children received phones at younger ages.
Maybe 14 is too old for your child or grandchild, who may be more responsible. Maybe being able to contact them puts your mind at ease. No matter their age, here are some tips for maintaining control over the situation:
- Limit screen time. As Gates mentioned, finding a balance between healthy phone use and excessive use is important. One app that can help is unGlue. It allows you to set daily limits on internet and app use across your children’s devices. Your child gets a time bank and they can do chores to earn minutes.
- Track their location. Having a phone can be a big responsibility for kids, and you might fear your loveable troublemakers can’t handle it. Spy Phone Labs’ Phone Tracker app will show you your child’s GPS location, the websites they’ve visited, the calls they’ve made or received, and text messages.
- Be aware of threats. From cyberbullying to sexting, there are some serious dangers that come along with children owning smartphones and having constant access to the internet and each other. Criminal charges are a real possibility. Talk to your kids about these topics and keep abreast of their secret lingo.
- Buy them an inexpensive phone. Safety and peace of mind don’t have to be expensive. There are cheap smartphones that have good cameras and a decent amount of storage place. Plus, with a two-year contract, you can get some smartphones for free.
Gates talked about a lot of other topics during his interview. Click here to read the whole article.