‘But all of my friends have got one,’ screams a red-faced seven-year-old to a blank-looking mum who hasn’t even given the idea of buying such a small child a smartphone a thought. ‘But who are you going to phone?’ she asks. ‘No one,’ huffs the child, ‘I just want to use it to play games’. The harassed mum attempts to question why the child’s brand-new Xbox One games console or their Nintendo 3DS XL aren’t enough. The look of sheer disgust on his face makes her stop. She doesn’t even bother mentioning his Kindle Fire HD. What’s the point?
If this scenario sounds all too familiar, you’ve probably had to face the smartphone debate: a wonder of the technological age that is guaranteed to throw even the most peaceful of households into chaos. The problem is that most parents and children are poles apart when it comes to when there is a ‘need’ for a smartphone. As adults, many of us think that the ‘phone’ part has got to have something to do with it, but most children want nothing more than a status symbol that they might eventually use to send an email or Facebook their friends.
There is no right or wrong answer to the question of when is the right time to make the first smartphone buy. There are seven-year-olds out there proudly showing off their Apple iPhone 6s and Samsung Galaxy S5’s, and yet there are also 12-year-olds who still haven’t persuaded their old folks to make the leap.
One logical viewpoint is to wait until your youngster is old enough to save and pay for the phone themselves or until they actually need one, such as when you start allowing them to go out alone. There are other people, however, who believe in the importance of embracing technology, thinking that the earlier children start getting to grips with modern tools the better equipped they will be for later life. The other major question is: how long can you stand the nagging before you succumb?