Smartphones offer many advantages in today’s world, and are a convenient way to stay connected.
Your child can always be just a call or text away, and you can easily check on him or give him an update of your own plans at any time.
In emergencies, a smartphone can allow you to quickly contact or update each other.
School-going kids may even demand to have their own smartphones as a means of keeping in touch with their friends.
However, there may be unintended results that affect your child’s mental and physical health.
No fixed age
Using a specific age as a means to gauge whether your child is ready for his own smartphone is not recommended.
It is more appropriate to base it upon his phone-use competency, maturity and sense of responsibility.
Pay attention to signs such as how he cares for his belongings (does he often lose things, etc), whether or not he is generally responsible and reliable, and how much you can trust him to adhere to your rules.
If the signs are positive, he may be ready for his own smartphone.
The next item on the checklist is whether or not he actually needs one.
There are some potential problems that you may face, such as:
• A decline in the parent-child bond.
He may end up spending more time on his phone texting friends, playing games or going through social media.
This may lead to less quality time spent with family.
• Limits his creativity.
An over-dependence on his smartphone to keep himself occupied would inevitably lead to less creativity.
Remember how we “invented” our own games to keep ourselves occupied as children?
• A potential source of addiction.
With social media, surfing the net, uploading photos to Instagram, tweeting, playing games or chatting, there are so many things that could get him hooked.
This may seriously interfere with his ability to function properly academically, lead to behavioural problems (e.g. he may become cranky or surly when denied permission to use his phone) or cause loss of sleep.
The only sure way to prevent this is to ensure that you monitor his phone usage and instil good phone-use habits in him, e.g. teaching him how to set limits on his ‘phone time’ and adhering to them.
Smartphones may be a boon for social interaction, but it is also a source of potential problems, especially cyberbullying.
Be sure to educate your child about this to prevent him from becoming a victim, or equally as important, not be a cyberbully.
A lot of kids (and adults!) think they can multi-task, but multi-tasking means that one is…
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