When Tracy McClusky’s 13-year-old son took a bad fall while skiing in central Massachusetts with his Ski Club, he knew something was wrong. He talked with a chaperone on the trip, who took a quick look and said he seemed fine. McClusky’s son wasn’t convinced; he used his cell phone to call his mother, who quickly drove to the ski slope to take him to the hospital. Her son was right. His arm was broken. “I was relieved he had his own phone,” said Tracy.
Parents choose to give mobile devices to their children for many reasons, ranging from safety considerations to homework help. A recent Pew survey showed that 78 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have mobile phones, and 47 percent of those devices are smartphones. However, many parents still struggle with the questions of when to give their child a phone and how to keep some control over how it is used. Tracy was comfortable giving her son a cell phone at age 13, but the timing isn’t the same for all parents.
The wireless industry offers tools to help parents keep track of their children’s phone use. For example, Usage Controls allow parents to set time and usage restrictions. And, with Verizon FamilyBase, parents now have even more insight, allowing them to see who is included in their children’s contact list, who and when they are calling and texting, and what apps they are using and for how long. In addition, parents have the ability to remotely lock their child’s phone.
“Insights into how devices are being used help parents have conversations with their children on the responsible use of phones and to set boundaries with the help of access controls if necessary,” said Shamik Basu, Director of Product Development at Verizon Wireless.
It was easy for Tracy to recognize when her son was ready. “It depends on each individual. We felt that at 13 he was showing he was responsible enough for a phone,” she said. “It’s great to know he can reach his Dad or me at a moment’s notice.”
Parents, at what age do you think it is appropriate to give your child a mobile device? Let us know on Twitter at @VZWnews.