Technology, social media and children being exposed to so much more is, unfortunately, part and parcel of the world we are living in.
Children and screens, it is a daily bain of modern parenting and one that is never far from research and articles, especially of late. Technology, social media and children being exposed to so much more is all, unfortunately, part and parcel of the world we are living in.
Setting and maintaining reasonable boundaries around the technology is now a fundamental part of parenting. Of paramount importance is about when to give a child their very own device.
When a child should get a phone
and how long should children spend on screens
are really hot topics at the moment affecting most parents at some stage of their child’s life. According to the latest research, on average, a child gets his or her first smartphone
at 10 years old.
That same study shows that by age 12, a full 50 percent of children have social media accounts (primarily Facebook and Instagram).
This issue does not discriminate either as Madonna has recently come out to say.
Madonna has complained of losing a link to her children after giving them mobile phones at a relatively young age, to the extent that she has prevented her 13-year-old son from having one.
“I made a mistake when I gave my older children phones when they were 13,” said the mother of six
In an interview with Vogue magazine, she said: “It ended my relationship with [my children], really. Not completely, but it became a very, very big part of their lives. They became too inundated with imagery and started to compare themselves to other people, and that’s really bad for self-growth.”
In a recent interview, Bill Gates said he didn't let any of his children get their own phone until they were 14 years old.
"No two kids are the same, and there's no magic number ... A kid's age is not as important as his or her own responsibility or maturity level."
If you're looking for a way to evaluate that maturity level, here is a list of practical questions to ask yourself before giving a child their first phone:
- Do your children "need" to be in touch for safety reasons?
- Can they get behind the concept of limits for minutes talked and apps downloaded?
- Do they understand fully what cyber-bullying is and the harm that can cause?
- Can they be trusted not to text during class, disturb others with their conversations, and to use the text, photo, and video functions responsibly (and not to embarrass or harass others)?
As a mum I four, I have to be honest and say this new world of social media and screens absolutely terrifies me. Our nine-year-old has recently begun to ask for a mobile phone we will be saying no as long as we can.
Cyber-bullying is a topic that frightens me the most. A form of bullying that is constant. It is 24/7 and the child cannot get a break from it.
I think what is hugely important is education. Social media is a part of our lives now and I think schools and parents need to get on board. Learn themselves about the risks and benefits of its use within the classroom and life and educate children on how to use it appropriately.
What do YOU think readers? What age do you think is an appropriate age for your child to get a phone?
Laura Doyle, mum of 4. Kyle 9, Noa Belle 4, Briar 2 and Milla 12 months. Breastfeeder, co-sleeper, coffee drinker. Staying positive and inspired by the chaos of it all. Follow her on Instagram.