It used to be that owning a mobile phone was a status symbol, an accessory toted by businesspeople to let everyone that they were important; these days, everyone has one, and even kids are experts on texting and make missed calls.
“There is no right age for giving a child a cellphone. It really depends on the individual child's abilities and development. I think it's more of gradual giving of responsibilities to your child regarding the cellphone, similar to gradually increasing responsibilities when it comes to giving your child allowance,” says pediatrician Dr. Victoria Ang.
Most grade-schoolers these days are given mobile phones by their parents. This way, he can easily be reached in case of emergencies (i.e. sudden suspension of classes in school). Another pro: he can contact his classmates and teachers easier if he has questions about homework.
But owning a mobile phone at a young age also has its downsides. Texting and playing mobile games are easy distractions from homework and lessons. There is also the danger of him falling prey to mobile phone scammers or sex offenders.
“Regardless of a child’s age, a parent should always take precautions when it comes to using cellphones,” advises Dr. Ang. She offers the following tips:
1. TEACH THEM MOBILE SAFETY
Program only your number and numbers of other people who have a legitimate reason for calling your child (such as caregivers or classmates), and if your child's phone has the capability of blocking unprogrammed numbers, use it. And even if you have an older child, teach hin/her to never answer calls from other numbers as it could be from sex predators. “Sex offenders usually start by getting close to their victims through texting, by pretending to be teen-agers looking for friends. Then they progress to setting up a meeting with them,” says Dr. Ang.