Is Your Child Ready for a Smartphone?

Helping parents decide when upgrading is appropriate.

By Ken Muche on August 13, 2013

It’s only a matter of time before children ask for their first smartphone.

The number of teenagers with smartphones increased by more than 50 percent in the past two years according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Once their peers upgrade to smartphones, they will want to keep up.

But when is the best time for a child to receive his or her first smartphone? Some parents choose to give their child a wireless device for safety reasons or homework help, but how does a parent know when their child is ready for the responsibility?

Monica Vila, the founder of the TheOnlineMom.com, writes on her blog that there a few questions parents should consider before making the decision, such as: Does the child know how to use the phone safely and appropriately? Do they know whom and whom not to communicate with? What they should and shouldn’t share online?

Villa says parents should also have a discussion with their child detailing their expectations and limits on the amount of time the device is used for gaming or texting. The conversation should also touch on what type of apps are OK for the child to download, as well as online safety.

To help parents, Verizon Wireless recently launched its FamilyBase service to make the smartphone decision easier for families. FamilyBase lets parents set time and usage restrictions on their children’s phones. It makes it easy to monitor their contact lists and see who and when their children are calling and texting. FamilyBase also shows what apps they are using and for how long. Parents can even lock the phone remotely.

For more information about using mobile devices safely and responsibly, Verizon Wireless and the iKeepSafe organization are hosting a series of workshops at schools across the country. The “BE a PRO Mobile: Connect with Confidence” is designed for parents, teens and tweens.

The program was recently honored with the 2013 Media Literate Media Award from the National Association of Media Literacy Education.