Editorial: 11 is Too Young For An Cellphone

Sophie Beck, Reporter

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The average age for when a child gets their first phone is about 11, according to researchers at ParentingNI. Even though most social media apps that kids want require a minimum age of 13. This means that kids are more likely to be exposed to content that they may not know how to handle at such an age.

12 or older is the right age to give a student a phone.

“US smartphone users pay $50/mo more on average for their cell phone bill than UK consumers. The typical UK smartphone user pays just $30 a month on average for data and service,” said Rob Webber, founder and writer for MoneySavingPro. This means that the average US consumer is paying an average of $80/mo or more for their phone bill. The ages nine, 10, 11 or younger mostly use a device to keep themselves occupied, and don’t utilize it to its full potential. This would total to an outcome of almost $1000 a year per child.

Experts recommend that before allowing their children to have cell phones, parents should have a conversation with them about “digital hygiene” practices: staying within data limits, avoiding inappropriate content, and steering clear of privacy risks and cyber-bullying,” said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and senior director of research at the Consumer Electronics Association.

When a child is 12 or above, they should have the ability to comprehend the simple media etiquette that goes along with the power to own a phone. Almost beginning or being in his or her teen years, the ways of having and using a device should be easy for someone that old to remember and apply to themselves.

This is an age when kids start doing more activities after school and start making plans on their own.

“So most parents we surveyed said they were getting the phone so the kid could stay in touch with them,” said DuBravac.

Starting or in secondary school, the kids are old enough to know how to use their device responsibly. Children in middle school have started extracurriculars, sports, or hanging out with friends without the parents; therefore, having a tool to help communicate with parents or friends is a useful asset. When they are younger, most parents, or at least one adult, is there to accompany and oversee the children.

To prevent the premature use of technology in future generations, be mindful of the impacts and long term effects that it will have on a child before providing them with a new device.