My children are aged eight and 10, and already my 10-year-old is demanding to be allowed to get a phone – some of the girls in her class have them and, apparently, they are all chatting on social media and my daughter feels left out. Is it more harmful to let her have a phone, or to leave her getting left out? I’d hoped to wait until she was 13.
David replies: Every family has to make its own decision about things like when to let your child have a phone. I hear too many stories about the troubles that phones cause among pre-teens, and have also heard about the benefits of schools and parents combining to restrict access for pupils to phones and social media accounts.
In my view, delaying phone ownership is always a good choice. However, this doesn’t take account of the potential for social exclusion, and so, you have to decide, with that pressure in mind.
This could be a good opportunity to practice comparing pros and cons with your daughter, helping her learn the skill of decision-making.
However, do bear in mind that once you open the door with regard to phone ownership, there is no going back. It might also be worth proactively approaching her class teacher and the school principal to establish the scale of phone ownership in the class. If it’s still very small, then maybe the school might want to start their own community initiative, in agreement with parents, to save the kids from the pressures that come with phones and social media.
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