Truth time? This is — absolutely — the Cliff's Notes answer to this loooaaadddeeeddd question.
Because every once in awhile, us moms of tweens need SOMETHING to be simple + straight-forward.
Puberty, homework, team tryouts, and friendship woes are NOT that.
But this answer? So is.
In order to know when your child is ready for their own phone or device you need "yes-es" to 5 questions.
I lay each of these out for you right below this fab pin.
Psst! Pin this!
How will I know when my child is ready for their own phone or device?
Watch my answer on KSTP Channel 5 Twin Cities Live, or read on below
5 Questions To Ask Before Getting Your Child Their Own Phone Or Device
Question 1: Are they asking for a phone?
Now, I am by no means saying if your child asks for a phone, you should go out and buy them one. I’m not saying that AT ALL!
What I am saying is that if it's already on their mind, it means that you're closer to this than you might think you are, regardless of their age.
Because if it's on their mind, then the right time to grasp at teaching them how to have a healthy relationship with technology is right there.
Because they're suuupppeeerrr motivated to hear what you think their phone habits should look like — because you have something they really want: phone privileges.
And frankly? You should NOT let this amazing opportunity slip by your fingers! It doesn't happen all the time, amiright?
Question 2: Do they need a phone?
There tends to be a lot to unpack in this one because so many of us will say, "Nobody NEEDS a phone." And there's definitely some truth to that.
However, there are some very good reasons for kids today to have phones! Here are 10 of them.
10 Bright Parenting Reasons For Tweens To Have Phones
1. Activities that end late — Are they in activities that have them out late?
2. Gone from home — Are they gone from home for long periods of time?
3. Separated from you — Are they separated from you for periods of time?
4. Needs a ride — Do they ever need to call you for a ride?
5. New friends — Are they spending time at friends' houses who are new to either one of you?
6. Sleepovers — Do they go to sleepovers? You don't want there to be a barrier if either one of you wants or needs to get in touch with the other.
7. Going places alone — Are they walking, biking, or bussing anywhere alone?
8. Staying home alone — Do they ever stay home alone?
9. Babysitting — Do they babysit? Are they interested in starting to?
10. Carpools — Do they get into anyone else's car?
The truth about allowing and encouraging all of these milestones — with a phone — is this:
You're able to say yes to these kinds of things more often and with more ease and peace of mind.
You can give more freedom, worry less, AND be more “Free Range” when you have a way to touch base and to be their soft landing.
Having a phone isn't necessary in this, but it sure does make it easier — on YOU.
This is using technology to make it simple to be the kind of parent that you want to be.
Question 3: Do they talk to you openly and honestly?
This is actually one of the most important questions to have a "yes" to.
If they're already being super honest with you and super open with you about what's going on in their lives, then ...
First of all: kudos, mama! That didn't happen by accident. You created that!
And second of all: they're probably more ready than you think.
Now, if your child's instincts are to clam up when it comes to sharing what their experiences and feelings are, then THIS is where they're at and you need to meet them there ...but probably without a phone.
I've parented each of these kinds of children, one who was an open book and one who I had to work really, really hard to get them to open up, and that meant that they just weren't ready to get a phone until I taught them how to talk to me about all of this "stuff" — even though their sister got one at a younger age.
Have you heard this parenting quote before?
It's one of my favorites and I really think it applies beautifully here because it's not about the age, it's about the skills that they have in place that make them ready.
Question 4: Do their friends already have phones or access to devices?
So this one kind of goes along with the first one above — are they asking for a phone — because I'm definitely NOT saying to go out there and buy your child a phone just because their friends have one! That would be crazy!
This is the important part:
If their friends already have phones, that means that all of this is ALREADY a part of their life.
As friends, they're discussing their online worlds
And interacting via texts, group chats, or on social media
If they're going to their friends' house and looking at a phone together
Or even on the bus or at a football game or wherever they might be ...
Then the online world is already impacting them, and you want to get in on that.
You want to influence their thinking about how to have a healthy relationship with technology and you can't do that if you're not discussing it.
Question 5: Are you ready to have the kinds of conversations that you need to have to teach them what they need to know?
Your child was not born knowing how to be balanced, safe, wise, and kind online. That would be WAY too easy, right?
You have to be the one to teach it, and if you're ready to have those conversations then maybe — just maybe — you’re more ready to get them a phone than you think you are.
At the beginning of this article I told you that this is the Cliff's Notes answer to this very (very) common question.
All of the linked articles below are more extensive explanations of how and why to make this all "stick." I hope that you find them helpful!
The concept of creating a healthy relationship with technology was born of my bestselling book Kindness Wins, a simple guide to teaching your child to be kind online. Because a world filled with tweens who use the Internet even just a 'lil more kindly? Is a better one, as far as I'm concerned.
Free Resources For You:
Read the first chapter of Kindness Wins for free by clicking right here or on the button below.
AUTHOR: GALIT BREEN
Hi, I'm Galit. (*My name is pronounced guh-leet + means little waves, like in the ocean.) I give you the tools you need to let your kids benefit from the amazing things the online world has to offer them and create a popsicle dripping, chapter book reading (in one sitting!), leaf crunching childhood that they deserve. Welcome, I'm so glad you're here. What can you expect from me? I spill it all right here.