Super Mom Monday: When should children get a smartphone?

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – This week’s Super Mom’s piece, tackling a growing debate, when is the right time to allow your son or daughter to get a smartphone, if at all! Some say when they can pay for it.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates said his own kids cannot have smartphones until age 14.

If you’re walking the halls of the middle school as a student, chances are, you already have one of these, or you’re begging for one.

“When I’d stay after school, I’d just kind of be there. Everyone’s on their phone and there’s no one to talk to because they’re all on YouTube or whatever,” Micah Juman said.

Juman convinced his parents to get him a smartphone, last year in the 7th grade so he could stay in contact with them during after school activities.  Shaker Jr. High, Counselor Stacey Angell says 90 percent of the students have smartphones.

“Is their pressure to have this, absolutely, they’re really is,” Angell said.

Smartphones are used in some classrooms for research or the calculator. Chromebooks are always available and still, kids want to be in the loop.

“There almost left out of a social circle as well, because so much communication takes place through the phone. If they don’t have it, they are left out,” Angell said.

“As more and more smartphones came out it was definitely something I wanted,” Julia Piskun said.

Piskun, a Shen sophomore, is active on the junior varsity softball team, got her phone three years ago when she was 13.

It was a very tough decision for her mom, and one, the whole family, including Julia’s twin sister, Rachel, and their father took seriously.

“I wasn’t worried about them using it. It’s a $500 device so they need to be responsible enough not to lose it or break it,” Mike Piskun, Julia’s father, said.

“I know that I wanted a phone so I could talk to my friends more often,” Rachel Piskun said.

Their mother was worried, not just about the texting, but all the social media that kids want access to.

“They didn’t know what was out there, what could harm them, the way they do now being 16,” Keri Piskun said.

So she set up clear boundaries.

“If you have a phone, you have to be open to me looking at it, whenever, wherever I want. Every day I was looking at it, looking at Instagram and seeing what they’re posting, what other kids are posting.”

That’s exactly what’s recommended.

“When they turn 16, you don’t throw them the keys to your car and say go ahead, it’s the same thing with a phone,” Angell said.

Angell admits there is no set age limit, it’s all about maturity. Here are some guidelines:

  • Limit phone use by setting strict time limits of when it can and can’t be used.
  • Limit access to social media. Start with a private Instagram account and posts need parental, approval.
  • Restrict where it’s used. Stick to common areas like the living room, not their bedroom, where they’re more likely to look up something they shouldn’t.
  • Monitor everything and check social media and texts often. You should be able to take the phone instantly, when you ask for it, with no time for them to delete anything.
  • If your child can’t follow those rules, he or she is probably not ready.

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