Is there a right age for kids to access phone?

In our constant skyrocketing world of technology, a lot of parents have felt the need to carry their kids along in terms of civilisation and technological advancements by granting them the use of phones and other tech gadgets. However, some guardians have sternly frowned at this act and deemed it as being insensitive to the vulnerable nature of kids, says Family Life Practitioner and educator, Elizabeth Ajetunmobi.

From a realistic point of view, it could be said that the use of phones and gadgets has done a great deal in fostering togetherness and bringing relevant information at our fingertips. For this reason, it is not out of place for children to feel the need to talk to their loved ones or want to look things up for further clarification via phones.

Ajetunmobi noted that the Internet is like a marketplace; you can have access to so many kinds of information because it is highly unfiltered by nature, which makes it extremely dangerous for children to come in contact with. Every kind of information can be accessed through the use of phone; whether good or bad, harmful or harmless, destructive or less destructive.

It is even much more dicey because a lot of parents have little or no ideas at all on how to trace online digital footprints (an amount of data left behind whenever an information is being posted or a site is being visited online) to track the kind of sites their kids visit.

“While phones could be highly beneficial to kids, lack of control and limit to the activities that could be carried out with phones is highly detrimental to the psyche of a child. Hence the best way to handle this situation is to ascertain the right time for a child to use a phone.

“It takes a level of awareness for a child to understand two key factors for life sustenance: limit and control. This awareness and understanding that a child should possess gets unlocked with time; hence the only yardstick as a measurement of time in this context is age. For example, a five year old child would most definitely not be aware of an existence and a clear difference between good and bad, but overtime as he advances in age, he begins to view the world in an entirely different way from how he perceived it when he was five years old. So, there is a wide disparity between the mental and psychological capability of a five year old, as opposed to a fifteen year old.”

The mum of three noted that there might not necessarily be a uniform age for every child, but there should be a possible range for consideration. Hence the clause is that until a kid gets to a mental stage (which is clearly defined by age) where he or she comprehends the significance of limits and control, then the use of phones with Internet should be strictly off-limits for reasons that include lack of parental regulation and cyber security.

Ajetunmobi, however, stressed that the age range that should be considered for the use of phones should be from 14 years and above. In fact, research has it that the average age for a kid to have access to phones is between twelve to fourteen years.

This is because a child should not be exposed to these anomalies at an early mental stage where he or she cannot decipher the kinds of information that should be consumed from the ones that need be discarded.

The family life enthusiast added that parents should create a child’s Google account and then setup a Google Family Link Parental Control to monitor activities of their children.

“You should also activate the ‘Try to Block Mature Sites’ so that they do not have access to explicit and suggestive sites. From time to time, Google out your children’s name on the Internet to check the kind of information that people are privy to about them. Make sure that there are no personal and sensitive data about them online. You could also download the Google Alert tool that would secretly send you information that contains posts or information with your child’s name on it.

“In this vein, you could keep an eye on their social activities and know when to influence their level of involvement in the social space for safety reasons. Do well to protect your children jealously from the waves of disaster that could come with the use of technology in this modern-day world. It could have a lasting adverse effect on them,” Ajetunmobi added.

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