SIM-only mobile phones are extremely popular devices which can place us in immediate contact with friends, colleagues and loved ones. However, it is interesting to note that this technology is no longer limited to the realm of adults alone. The younger generations are now taking advantage of what smartphones have to offer. This can prove to be somewhat of a quandary for parents. At what age should a child be given his or her first smartphone? How young is too young and how subjective is this observation? Let us attempt to address each of these questions in more detail.
Many parents consider secondary school as the “window” associated with a first SIM-only deal. However, some feel that this is a rather arbitrary age. This observation actually has just as much to do with peer pressure as it does with practicality. There is no doubt that the ability for a parent to communicate with a child is very important in this day and age. However, children are also feeling pressure from their friends who already possess such devices. Some could even be ostracized for not being “up to speed”. It is the responsibility of the parent to decide if this age is the most appropriate. This will also involve the level of maturity of the child.
Location and Risk
Physical risk should also play a role in determining the correct age to provide a SIM-only plan. For example, families who live within areas associated with high rates of crime could be prudent to purchase a phone at a younger age. It is much less likely that a child will be placed in a dangerous situation if a potential criminal sees that he or she possesses a smartphone. Another consideration revolves around parents who are ill. In this situation, it may be wise to provide a child with a phone in the event that medical services need to be contact. In fact, a four-year-old boy in Croydon recently utilized a smartphone to alert emergency services when his mother fell unconscious; potentially saving her life.
The Role of Maturity
This next variable is rather subjective. Some children naturally mature faster than others. These tend to be the same individuals who are given a greater amount of responsibility when compared to their peers. Parents need to determine if their child falls into this category. This can be difficult to determine and as opposed a SIM-only deal which provides unlimited access, it may be better to purchase one associated with parental controls (more on this later).
Many psychologists argue that a child should be at least nine years old before obtaining a SIM-only smartphone. As psychotherapist Joanna Fortune observes, premature exposure to screen-based electronic devices could hinder important developmental traits such as empathy, communication and interpersonal relationships.
Indeed, recent years have illustrated that the Internet can become quite addictive. This is particularly the case with social media portals and similar hubs. Parents should take this psychological factor into account when making a decision.
Parental Controls and Similar Firewalls
The one benefit associated with many offering SIM-only deals with parental controls in place. For example, children may only be allowed to make emergency calls or their access to specific websites could be restricted entirely. This is perhaps the most effective way to bridge the gap between pragmatism and overindulgence. Parents need to be choose the correct plan based off of their relationship with the child. It is also wise to select “bare minimum” options when referring to these bundles. As the child becomes more responsible, he or she can be provided with a greater number of privileges. This will also help to teach the younger generation about responsibility.
In truth, there is no “golden age” associated with a first SIM-only mobile phone. This is partially the reason why making a decision can be difficult at times. It is nonetheless the responsibility of the parent to determine if their child is ready for such a step. In these modern digital times, mobile phones and remote Internet access are indeed here to stay.