In a world where social media is King, our children are exposed to social media, apps and messaging at a much younger age.


It follows, then, that more and more of our little ones are putting smartphones at the top of their wish lists for birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions.


But just how young is too young when it comes to buying a smartphone for your child?



While research puts the average age of children who own smartphones at around 10, there are deeper factors to consider:


Are they mature enough?

Most experts will say that it’s maturity, not age that should determine if a child is ready for the responsibility of owning a smartphone.


Will they have the maturity to keep the phone safe as well as respecting its power? If you are to trust them with an expensive gadget that opens up the lines of communication to the rest of the world, they need to demonstrate that they are ready and responsible.



Will they follow your rules?

The online world can be a dangerous one, and you will need to lay down some ground rules as well as teach your child about online safety.


Only agree to buy a smartphone for your little one if you know they will understand, implement and cooperate with your rules.


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Will it make life easier and safer?

If they’re just looking for something to play video games on, it could be safer (and cheaper) to simply give them a loan of your own phone.


However, if they are at an age where they have started going to after-school classes and will be waiting on you for collection, perhaps it’s a good idea to have a direct line of communication?



Are they willing to compromise?

Many parents choose to buy a ‘starter’ phone for their child; an older or less expensive model that won’t break the bank but will enable your child to stay in touch with you and their friends. Here is where their maturity will really be tested: if they feel a phone is a necessity, they should be willing to compromise and wait for a fancier model.


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Who do they want to contact?

This is really important. If they want a phone so they can text the next-door neighbour while they’re in bed at night, it’s not really going to be a convincing argument! Equally, if they’re particularly interested in building a social media following – a proportion of which will always be strangers – you need to be cautious.


At this age, their phone book should only contain the contacts of family members and their pals.



Is it practical?

Many parents invest in a phone for their child as a means of staying in touch and ensuring they are safe at all times. So, if your child is of the age where they spend most of their time with you anyway, is there a need? Weigh up the practicalities before investing.