Nov. 2, 2020

Ask Amy - What's The Right Age To Get a Cell Phone?

A listener wonders if her 13-year-old son is old enough for a cell phone and the constant internet access it would grant him.

This week's question is from Britnee:

How long should we wait to get our kids a cellphone? I have a 13 year old boy who begs for a cellphone because ALL kids have one. He has a tablet and a computer so it's not like he can't contact his friends or me if need be. But I'm just not comfortable with him having access to the world– or the world having access to him–24/7.

Phones are lifelines to peers for adolescents– and more than ever during this pandemic. Kids usually get phones when their increasing independence means they need a way to contact you while they're apart from you. But even if you're spending every moment together these days, if your child is remote-schooling, social media is an important means of connection.

Britnee also mentions that her son has access to a tablet and computer, so his access to the internet (and all its wondrous horrors) already exists. The phone adds a constant-access factor, to be sure, but there are ways to put controls around that, and Amy discusses a few in this episode.

One of our favorite tools is Bark, which proactively monitors text messages, YouTube, emails, and 30+ different social networks for potential safety concerns, Use our referral code to try Bark for a week for free:

Still, getting your child a smartphone is an intensely personal family decision, and you have to take into consideration your own child's maturity level, mental health, peers, executive function and resilience.

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