COLUMBUS, Ohio — Kids today are more connected than ever.
Studies show 40% of kids have a phone by age 10. Nearly double that number by age 12. And almost 90% of young teens have a phone by age 14.
“I think having a cell phone for emergency use is a very valid issue for many families,” said Dr. Christopher Bolling with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Ohio and a visiting professor of pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
However, Bolling suggested that the right time to give a child a cell phone should be based on the child’s maturity rather than age.
“A lot of it has to do with how responsible your child is, how well they follow directions, how good they are at keeping track of things like if their kids are having to lose things frequently,” he said.
“That's not a great person to give a cell phone to,” Bolling said.
The AAP teamed up with AT&T to create a digital parenting survey to better help guide the decision behind cell phone readiness. The questions focus on how well your child finishes assignments, follows rules, handles impulses, or admits to making mistakes. Your answers could determine if you and your child are ready for a cell phone, almost ready, or not ready at all.
“Parents need to also be tech savvy and learn how to monitor their kids’ use,” Bolling added “It’s no you are violating their privacy, you're protecting them.” But there are thousands of parents who have joined a national movement called Wait Until 8th. Parents encourage each other to delay giving their child a smartphone until at least the 8th grade. According to the organization’s website, “By banding together, this will decrease the pressure felt by kids and parents alike over the kids having a smartphone.”
Bolling agrees with the concept but believes 8th grade is unrealistic given how technology is so integrated in schools today.
“Because certain things that worked a year ago, don't work now. And that sounds intimidating for parents, but you know, the world changes, and we have to adapt and change with it,” Bolling said.