FOX61 Family First: When should children get smartphones?

When it comes to smartphones and screen time, author and educator Dr Amy Alomar says there really aren`t any hard and fast rules, because so much depends on the individual child and family.”

Alomar says closely monitoring your kids activity-- from toddlers to elementary school and beyond-- is key.

And having open conversations about what they’re doing on the devices, paves the way for responsible, more independent use. “They`ve learned that it was so important that my mom or my dad was watching me… So there`s something important going on. It helps them develop those filters, “ explains Alomar.

Always up for debate: what`s the appropriate age to get your child their own smartphone?

Again, every child and family is different, but Alomar suggests you look closely at the readiness factor, “I would say the biggest thing to look for is a need, and if there`s a need that a great time to get them a phone. It lets them into this whole world of unknowns... but it`s also really expensive, so you just want to teach them responsibility for it.”

For older kids, devices are part of their social life is linked to the device, but they’re also using them for homework, so Alomar suggests parents establish rules for reasonable use, that are understood and respected. Establishing no device zones can also be helpful. Two rules for her house are : NOT at dinner and NOT in bed.

“I always stress no phones in the bedroom. It's really important that kids honor their sleep they can`t get to sleep they should be reading a book or go through some other exercises to help them zone out,” stresses Alomar.

And what about all those millions of apps out there? They can certainly be overwhelming. If you`re not keen on one that your child wants, she says it`s ok to simply say no, make them wait or figure out a compromise you all can live with.
“My kids were desperate to get snapchat, and I didn`t know what it was. I didn`t understand the desires around it, so rather than just saying no, because I was afraid of it and didn’t get it, I said ‘alright let`s get it together.’ And they were not allowed to check it unless we were all together, so I actually put it on my phone first.”

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