Is Your Kid Ready for a Smartphone?

There is a wealth of advice and opinions about when and how to introduce and increase internet access and device usage to children. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, it’s crucial for parents to take the lead and think intentionally about when their children are ready to explore the boundless world of the internet.

In today’s blog, we’ve collaborated with you, the parents, to develop a list of recommended resources and information. These tools are designed to help you make the best decisions for your kids and families. We’re proud to keep you and your family connected, and we hope these resources serve as a valuable guide to keep your kids safe online, too! 

1. The American Psychological Association’s Health Advisory on Social Media Use in Adolescence

The American Psychological Association’s (APA) Health Advisory on Social Media Use in Adolescence provides a concise but thorough review of the current findings about social media impacts on teens. It’s a good place to start because it discusses some of the variability among different age ranges and how different each child can be.

The advisory also helps each parent consider their particular kid’s maturity level (rather than just their age number) when assessing when it’s time to increase internet access. The APA’s health advisory should provide a solid background in the underlying “psychology” of internet and social media usage for children and potential issues they may encounter as they age. 

2. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ PhoneReady Questionnaire

Through its collaboration with AT&T, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) developed a 10-question questionnaire to help parents think through their child’s development and maturity before determining whether to let their kid have a first cell phone or other device. 

While the AAP’s PhoneReady Questionnaire may not be the decisive factor in parents’ decision-making, it will help them think through the primary considerations—both pros and cons—in a simplified and well-organized way. We also like that it considers certain factors for why parents may want their kids to have a smartphone, including for health and safety reasons (i.e., facilitating easy contact and communication between parent and child) and tracking their kids’ location at any time. 

3. Wait Until 8th

Wait for 8th is a comprehensive website that utilizes a “pledge”—a commitment of parents to wait until their kid is in 8th grade before giving them a smartphone (though you don’t need to agree to the pledge or even its suggested 8th-grade timeframe to benefit from its information and advice). 

As some children receive their first smartphone as early as age 10 (or in some instances, even earlier), many parents will begin to feel the pressure from both their own children and, perhaps indirectly, their own fellow parent peers to allow device use earlier than they judge it best. Wait for 8th’s pledge and numerous resources can significantly empower parents to decide to wait until they believe the time is right—and their child is ready—for smartphones and internet use as they grow up. 

4. The AAP’s Family Media Plan

Developed with experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Family Media Plan is an outstanding resource to plot out the kinds of internet and device usage—and the amount of time of that usage—for each member of the family over a given period (e.g., whether daily, weekly, or monthly, etc.). 

Users input key information, such as each family member’s age range and individualized online interests and device needs. The Family Media Plan also helps parents model good internet and device usage habits because children typically follow what their parents do more than what they say.

At S&T, we’re dedicated to keeping families connected but also understand the importance of ensuring children’s online safety. The recommended resources will empower parents to make informed decisions that keep their kids safe and secure in the digital world. Thank you for trusting us to join your family’s online journey!


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