I’m curious to hear at what ages everyone allowed their kids to get their first smart phone. Do they have a data limit?
Great topic! I’m sure this varies by family dynamic, child’s readiness, location, need, etc. My guys are now 13 & 10 with iPhones. “Back then”, if you’d have mentioned getting my 10 year old a smartphone I’d have probably laughed in your face. I was one of those who wanted to hold out as long as possible on getting my child a phone, let alone a smartphone. However, our needs changed.
My backstory (sorry, this is going to be long), is that we moved when my guys were 9 & 6 to an area where kids roam much more freely than they did where we previously lived. This made me nervous of course! Letting my 9 & 6y/o go to the (close by) park alone?! GASP! Let them ride bikes through the trails on the woods up to a mile away alone?! Let them bike or walk to school a mile away alone?! My mama heart was having anxiety attacks about what could happen and how could they reach help if needed?! How could I find them quickly if needed?
We began at 9 & 6 with buying them (regular) wristwatches to help them be responsible with time for returning home and checking in. I first purchased a 3 pack of Motorola radios for us all to communicate with. The radios reached up to about a 2 mile radius. This worked well for about a year. I could call them home when needed or they could radio me and check in or request more time out.
About a year later, I bought my oldest (10) a basic prepaid flip phone for about $12 with a $15/mo limited minutes & text plan. This worked better for communicating if he needed to stay after school, etc. The flip phone lasted about 3 months when he started complaining about how difficult it was to text me with it. Since he was so responsible with it, I upgraded him to a basic feature QWERTY slide phone for easier texting. (These were easier to find and were still sold in 2016. Shortly after, they stopped selling them).
He did so well with the slide phone, I ended up buying his younger bro one a year later when the older son went to middle school and my younger was still in elementary. Since they bike to school alone and now separately, I wanted to be sure the younger had a phone for safety. Again, they did really well with them for about a year.
After that, I discovered I could reactivate our 2 old hand-me-down iPhones we had at home from when my husband and I upgraded iPhones for the SAME monthly cost as their basic slides ($20/mo each unlimited calling / text, shared family data plan). I dove into understanding the iOS parent settings, set them up as safely as I could, and let them have them. One bonus perk I REALLY loved about giving them the iPhones (and the main reason I did this) was I could use the Apple Family Find My Friends to easily see their locations. Since they do a lot of roaming and exploring, this really calmed my nerves to be able to better see where they were or if they made it to school.
That was about 1.5 years ago. They’re still on the same old iPhones, and we haven’t had any issues! We have since moved from a shared family of 4 data plan to an unlimited data plan. We have parent settings in place with “Down Time” at night, and we collect their phones at night. We started young with the educating and safety talks, set expectations, etc. My kids are probably some of the few that use their phones for family communications (mostly) and they don’t do a whole lot of talk/text to friends, nor are they interested in social media.
I fully believe this is doable (we are proof!) if you start young to set them up for success with talks, education, and expectations.
Our school district starts middle school at 6th grade. This is the year that they allow students to walk home by themselves or check themselves out of school to go to an appointment. Because of this we decided that 6th grade was the right time for our 2 boys to get phones. We do not limit the data but we do limit the time they can spend on their phones and how much time they can spend on different platforms like YouTube.
I hope that helps.