5 ways to know your child is ready for a cell phone

Is a cellphone at the top of your child’s Christmas wish list?  Maybe you are wondering, “Is my child is ready for a cell phone?”. This article was written just for you.  It will give you the items you need to consider and the questions to ask yourself when deciding if a cell phone is right for your child this holiday season.

With technology moving forward like a freight train, children are getting younger when they start asking for a cell phone (begging, lobbying, and whining too).  Nearly a quarter of Canadian children have a cell phone in Grade 4.  By the way, that number jumps to 50% in grade 7 and 85% in grade 11 (so not everyone has it like you are being told by your kids).

5 ways to know your child is ready for a cell phone

When deciding if a cell phone is right for your child, here are 5 ways to know your family is ready:

  1.   They are responsible & trustworthy

    Remember when you hand your child a smartphone, you are giving them a power tool that requires them to us it responsibly. They can create images, videos, and text messages that can be uploaded instantly to the web.  If you think your child is tech-savvy beyond their maturity level, and ability to follow rules (yours and the schools), then it is not a good time for a cell phone.Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Is my child responsible?
  • Does she arrive when she says she will?
  • Does he let you know when he leaves home or a friend’s house?
  • Do you think she will be texting in class?
  • Can he be trusted to use text, photos, and video functions responsibly and not harass or embarrass others?
  • Will she follow the rules and limits you set for apps downloaded and screentime?
  1.   They keep their stuff safe

It is perfectly normal for kids to loose things, especially when they are in elementary school.  Other kids lend everything to friends and can’t remember who they gave it too.  Either way, some kids are just better than others at keeping track of their belongings.

A lost phone is always a possibility when it comes to kids and it cost more than a backpack or lunchbox to replace.  If your child tends to lose things, expect she will loose her phone too.  Most cell phone providers have device protection services, with kids it is always a good idea to pay special attention to them.

  1. You are having issues reaching them

    If you and your child are having problems staying in touch, then it may be time to get a cell phone to make connecting easier.  It always best to set the ground rules before handing it over to make certain they always pick up your phone calls and reply to your messages.


  1. They understand the consequences

Our kids are spending more time online.  This is true whether or not they have a cell phone.  The phone itself just makes it easier for negative behaviours like sexing and bullying to happen. Be sure your kids are Cyber SMART and can stay safe online.

In some areas, there are laws for bullying and sexting that can affect the kids that participate in these activities.  Make certain that both you and your kids are well informed.

  1. You can afford it

A cell phone, especially the most popular smartphones, are no small investment.  The device itself can cost hundreds of dollars and then depending on the options you choose with your provider it could cost another $100 a month.  When you are choosing a cell phone plan for your child, sit down and talk with them about what their plan entitles them to.  Set warnings on the phone so they understand when they are close to reaching their limits and consequences for going over.

Decided to Go Get the Cellphone for your Child

If you decide that now is the right time for you child to get their first cellphone, we strongly recommend building a technology contract with your child. This interactive activity will help set the ground rules for your family to thrive in this digital world.  Check out our free fillable Family Computer Agreement to give your family a head start.


About the Author:

Melanie Rhora is a certified abuse prevention trainer, cyber security expert, mom and founder of Cyber Smart Canada Inc. She gets what it is like to parent in a digital world. The fantastic thing is with her security background, she has transformed this knowledge into power for you as a parent to keep our kids safe. She's on a serious mission to help communities Get Cyber SMART and help families create a balanced approach to online safety. It is really possible, and you don’t have to live without technology to make it happen.

One Comment

  1. Helaina November 30, 2016 at 10:12 am

    I like this because it’s a holistic look at “readiness”–both the parent’s and the child’s. Nice approach!

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