There isn't really a clear-cut rule as to what age parents should give their kids their own mobile phones. It differs based on the needs of every family. A 2016 research found that the average age of kids who own a mobile phone is 10 years old -- and the trend is that age will go even lower. However, experts say the longer you wait, the better. And you know who agrees with that? Oh, just dads who happen to lead biggest tech companies in the world.
You'd think Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, would embrace technology for his kids. After all, his company's software products are present just about everywhere in the world. But Gates, dad to Jennifer, 20, Rory, 17, and Phoebe, 14, only gave his kids their own mobile phones when they reached 14.
"We don’t have cell phones at the table when we are having a meal, we didn’t give our kids cell phones until they were 14 and they complained the other kids got them earlier," Gates told The Mirror. The kids have "no screen time" rules, especially before bedtime. "That helps them get to sleep at a reasonable hour," he explained.
It's the same for Apple founder, the late Steve Jobs. If you think his kids had first dibs on the iPad when it first came out in 2010, you're mistaken. In the New York Times article, "Steve Jobs Was a Low-tech Parent," he revealed that his kids did not use the iPad. "We limit how much technology our kids use at home," he said. He also had a strict "no tech during dinner" time rule.
Surprised? Don't be. A lot of other techy parents impose strict rules on their kids' gadget time, too. Based on the New York Times article, here are some:
Instead of iPads, there is an abundance of books at home that the kids can read anytime.
Screens are not allowed in the bedroom and during mealtimes.
No gadgets during the school week for young kids, while older ones get only 30 minutes. Set limits for recreational use, but allow time for school work.
If you need to hand your young child his own phone, go for a call-and-text one first. Wait until he's older before giving him a smartphone.
Be selective of the programs they use, the content they watch online, and the apps they download.
"You’re always looking at how it can be used in a great way -- homework and staying in touch with friends -- and also where it has gotten to excess," Gates said. Of course, we want the advantages technology affords us, but too much of one thing is never a good idea.
Surely, you don't need reminding of some of the dangers of too much technology, including exposure to harmful content and individuals, online bullying, and becoming too dependent on these gadgets. Along with the studies that link the excessive use of tech to sleep and health issues as well as declining school performance, prove why rules for gadget use are crucial.
Discuss with your kids rules for gadget and Internet use -- and parents, don't forget to walk the talk. The kids will complain as some of their peers might already have their own smartphones or have unlimited access to the Internet. Just remember, you're doing it for their own good.