At what age should children be allowed to have a cellphone?
When social media first became a pop culture phenomenon in the early 2000s very few individuals knew how influential it could be in shaping the society. For almost 2 decades, social media has become a vital part of society, not only through the introduction of new communication channels be also a forming new social or economic opportunities. The cell phone or the smartphone has been credited these exponential use of social media platforms. With access to the internet and the development of numerous software such as mobile banking, smartphones have become must-have items that have for society. Nevertheless, recent research has shown that about 33% of smartphone users are below the age of 18. A recent study by Genc (2014), indicated that on average a child owns his or her first smartphone at the age of 10 years old. Additionally, the study indicated that by age 12, a full 50% of children have social media accounts. This a significant number of children who are connected to the world wide web and social media platforms that are known to host a plethora of social risks such as bullying and exposure to explicit content such as pornography. Currently, one of the biggest questions in the minds of many 21st century parents is at what age should children be allowed to have a cell phone.
Since Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone, cellphones or smartphones as they have come to be known have gone through a drastic evolution. Currently, smartphones are the most recognized gadgets in the digital era. They have changed how society communicates particularly due to social media. The days when a parent was faced with the conundrum of what time is best to have their children own a car or learn to drive one are long gone. Today parents are more concerned with when best to expose children to the risks of social vices on the internet. When a parent hands a mobile phone, they giving a powerful communication tool but a device that sends messages, create and receives images, in addition, to send or downloading videos to friends. Fact is there is no right age for a parent to give a child his or her first cell phone. Instead, a parent ought to teach their children about the dangers of cell phone use such as cyberbullying as well as the existence of individuals who may take advantage of their innocence. There are cases where children have been tempted by the reward to expose their nudity for financial rewards. Responsibility is the standard that decides when a child may be given access not only to the phone but the outside world. Keeping a child away from using a cellphone is not advisable as they may feel left out and thus cause more harm than good. The best way to go about solving these risks is to make a child aware of the dangers that may be only a click away
Cellphones provide new opportunities that prepare the young generation for the future. Nevertheless, young minds are susceptible to all kinds of risks that are may be only a tap of the button away. There is not right age for a child to own a phone. for safety a child should be enlightened of the risks that may be in social media platforms as well as other applications.
Genc, Z. (2014). Parents’ perceptions about the mobile technology use of preschool aged children. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 146, 55-60.