Smartphones and children

Key points about smartphones and children

  • If you’re a parent of a tween or teenager, chances are you’ve been told they ‘need’ a smartphone to keep in contact with friends and to be part of the social media world.
  • By 2022 an estimated 92% of all New Zealanders have a smartphone. So it’s a fact, smartphones are increasingly a big part of our lives.
  • There’s no right age for your child to get their first smartphone, and it’s a decision only you can make.
  • Before you take the plunge, here’s our top questions to consider.
2 boys and smartphones
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1. Are they good with their possessions?

Buying a smartphone is expensive and not something you want to do often! If your child loses things easily, will they be any different with their smartphone? 

2. Do they understand the wide reach of the internet? 

Anything your child posts on social media is potentially available for anyone to see. Photos from nights out, private photos sent to friends; once an image is on the internet it’s very hard for it to be permanently deleted. A lot of online bullying takes place too and that can be difficult to manage and have a big impact on how children feel about themselves and how safe they feel. Read more about online bullying and online grooming and how to manage them.

3. Does your child understand that not everything on the internet is real?

We've all seen and laughed at botched photoshop images and realise just how easy it is to alter an image. We're also aware that social media feeds are usually carefully curated to only show a very one-sided point of view. But does your child realise this? And do they know how to tell if their ‘friends’ are really who they say they are?

4. Is your child already addicted to another screen?

If you struggle to get your child off their computer or game console, chances are it’s going to be the same with a smartphone.

5. What’s your own use like?

Are you addicted to your smartphone or device? If so, you have most likely been modelling this behaviour to your child. How are they going to be any different?

6. How does social media affect your moods?

Do you post photos on social media and wait for likes and comments? If no-one comments on your photo, how does that make you feel? And what about all the glamorous holiday photos your friends post and the ‘look at me’ moments freely available online. If your moods are affected by social media, chances are your child's will be too. 

7. Does it have to be a smartphone?

Although it may not be a popular choice with your child, consider buying a ‘not-so-smart’ phone which can be used for texts and calls only. That way they can stay in contact with their friends (and you) but in a safer way while they get used to the new responsibility.  

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Credits: Healthify Editorial Team

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