What Parents Need To Know Before Their Kids Get Their First Phone

Parents considering purchasing a cell phone for their children should ask themselves several questions first. “Should we get our child a cell phone?” Many modern parents ask this question as their children grow.

TODAY Parents recently spoke with Dr. Catherine Pearlman, author of “First Phone, a child’s guide to digital responsibility and safety.” Pearlman suggests:

  • Do you need a phone? In Pearlman’s view, there doesn’t need to be one, but it might be helpful if a child is home alone or walk independently.
  • Can the child accept limits on screen time?
  • Can the child handle essential belongings?
  • What is the child’s attitude toward digital education?

“Parents should ask these questions to determine if their child is ready for a new phone,” Pearlman said. It empowers the child and parent to have a dialog, leading to continued engagement once the phone is purchased.”

Pearlman says parents should be aware of five specific concerns when it comes to digital safety.

Concerns About Digital Safety

  • Scams and predators online. Their work is excellent. Adults can fall victim to scammers.
  • What is the digital footprint of your child? Do they have accounts anywhere? How are they sharing data?
  • How does the child use social media? What do they watch? Are they interacting?
  • Is the child affected by social media, cyberbullying, or screen time?
  • Who influences your child? What does the child know about influencers posting ads, commercials, and selling items?

Tips For A Child’s Phone Safety

  • Play a role to teach children that not everyone online is a friend.
  • Create guidelines about usage, screen-free times, and charging locations at night.
  • Educate kids on scams, phishing, and predators, so they know what to avoid.

In addition to digital consent concepts, Pearlman added that digital education is a “lifelong process” as the digital world evolves, including sexting, social media, and how phones affect mental health.