How Young is Too Young to Own a Phone

A 2013 study indicated that 75 percent of kids ages 0-8 now have access to a smartphone or tablet in their homes. Now, your child is not only asking to use your mobile device, they want their own smartphone or tablet because their classmates and other children their age have one. However, you think they are still too young to have their own mobile device. If this is your situation, here’s a useful guide to help you decide whether your child is too young to have his/her own mobile device.

Gauge Your Child’s Maturity and Responsibility Levels


Is this girl too young to own a phone?

Image via Flickr by Ally Mauro

According to Fran Walfish, Psy.D., psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parentmaturity is more important than chronological age when considering at what age your child should get their own mobile device. Thus, start out by evaluating your child’s maturity and responsibility levels. Does your child understand and follow the rules set out by you? Are they responsible with their belongings, or do they often misplace things?

If your child frequently loses things, this could be an indicator that they may end up losing their mobile device. Before you decide to give your child a smartphone, you should talk to them about being responsible and have them prove to you that they can look after their belongings.

Another concern parents have is their child’s ability to adhere to data use limits. A young child may not understand the consequences of going over their data limits, so it’s important that you gauge your child’s ability to understand that data has a cost or that everyone on a family plan needs to share the data available. If your child does not obey household rules, it is very unlikely that they will adhere to data use rules.

Evaluate the Risks



Image via Google Play

With a mobile device connected to Wi-Fi or a wireless network, young children can easily access inappropriate content on the web, social media, and messages. They can also download games and apps that cost money. To avoid this, if you allow your child to use either their own or your mobile device, you should always have a parental control app enabled.

Mobile devices from Samsung offer parents many choices to create kid-safe environments. On the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 from T-Mobile, parents can enable Kid’s Mode and select the apps their children have access to as well as create different profiles based on the age of each child that uses a device. Parents can place time limits on mobile device use and review a summary of their child’s activity. Free, downloadable Android apps like Kids Place give parents increased ability to block access to the Internet, incoming calls, texting, access to the app marketplace, among other features.

Think About the Benefits of a Mobile Device


Image via Flickr by r.nial.bradshaw

A mobile device could mean an increased sense of safety and easier direct communication between you and your child. Parents of kids involved in many activities, or who split time between parents living in separate households, place great importance on their children’s ability to independently and directly communicate with them at any time. On the other hand, if your child still spends most of his/her time at home or school and supervised by adults, then he/she may not need a smartphone yet.

In a recent report, Living and Learning with Mobile Devices, by the Learning First Alliance, over 75 percent of K-2 parents reported that mobile apps helped their young children learn reading and math skills. The report also revealed that over 50 percent of parents with children in kindergarten to 12th grade reported mobile devices helped their kids learn foreign languages, problem-solving skills, science, among other skills.

While it may make sense for one child to have their own smartphone at an early age, another child may need to wait a couple more years until they truly need one and are ready for the responsibility. As a parent, the decision about your family’s needs and your child’s maturity level is ultimately up to you. If you do decide your child is mature enough for a Smartphone, you will absolutely want to put a case on it to prevent damage to the phone from accidents. You can find iPhone cases with unique prints on them that your child will love. By carefully weighing the benefits and risks that mobile devices offer, you can make the best decision for your child.