Parenting Technology

Parents, Smartphones and Children

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

How should children be introduced to smartphones? A new study offers guidance on a modern parenting dilemma.

In a recent survey of 1,000 parents across the UK conducted by Loveit Coverit, parents uttered their dismay about the use of smartphones at school. The survey asked them various questions relating to the earliest age they give their children a phone, how much they’re allowed to use it, what their biggest concerns are, and whether they think the availability should be restricted at schools.

Many parents might find it difficult to determine the right age at which to give their kids a smartphone. And if they have one, how much liberty they should be given in its use? We have summarised some of the survey’s findings to help you get to grips with those questions.

When should you give your kid a smartphone? (And for how long?)

The survey found that half of parents would allow children to own their first smartphone between the ages of 10-13. Just below a quarter said that they shouldn’t have one until they are 13 or older. 17 per cent said they’d be comfortable with giving their kids a phone as early as 7-9. A tiny minority of parents even said that it’s acceptable at 6 or younger.

However, while most parents would give their children a phone at an early age, most are prepared to restrict their access. Around 56 per cent don’t allow their children to use it for longer than two hours a day. With only 15 per cent allowing unrestricted access. About a quarter are comfortable with their children using it for two to five hours each day.

What are parents’ biggest concerns regarding smartphone use?

The overwhelming majority of parents are worried that their children are talking to strangers on their smartphones. Following second are concerns over the threat of cyberbullying, with theft coming in at a close third. A surprisingly low number of parents are afraid that smartphones cause school disruptions.

While so many parents are worried about cyberbullying, only about a third know whether their children have ever been victims. But they show great care since 78 per cent would talk to them if they found out they were being cyberbullied. A total of one in seven children admitted to committing cyberbullying, which indicates that it is a real threat.

Should smartphones be allowed in schools?

The survey found that one in four parents say that smartphone use should be completely forbidden at school under all circumstances. While a further third stated that they should only be allowed to be used in emergencies. On the other hand, only 1.5 per cent said they’d be comfortable if phones were allowed in school without any restrictions whatsoever.

Smartphones are a mixed blessing. They allow us to stay connected, informed, and are reshaping our society. Despite the obvious risks associated with the technology, children can’t be kept away from smartphones entirely: parents across the UK agree about the necessity of smartphone use.

If you make sure to guide your child as they embark into the cyberspace and speak to them about the risks, all the benefits of the technology will be open to you and your family.