What’s the right age for a child to get a smartphone?
MORE and more children of primary school age are getting their own smartphones, but experts are critical of this trend and say it is not necessarily good for them.
Claudia Lampert, a media teacher at the Hans-BredowInstitute in Hamburg, Germany, believes children of that age are too young to understand all of the device’s functions.
Kristin Langer, a media coach with a German youth initiative, adds that parents should adopt a step-by-step approach to the mobile and digital world when it comes to their children.
“In order to understand the functions of a smartphone and learn how to protect themselves on the Internet, adolescents need time and the support of their parents,” she says.
A nine-year-old could be given a simple mobile phone without Internet access, she suggests, and a private smartphone is appropriate at the earliest for an 11-year-old.
If the child wants to use their parents’ smartphone, the parent should supervise. If the child is on the Internet, it’s not enough for the parent to sit next to them, says Ulric Ritzer-Sachs, an expert with Germany’s Federal Conference on Educational Counselling (BKE).
“Parents must look and ask. They need to control what the child is doing,” he says.
Software can help by blocking access to problematic content. “Such programs offer good basic protection, but parents should not rely on them 100%,” Langer says. She also recommends using a search engine for children and a start page specifically for children. Before giving children a smartphone, parents should establish some ground rules – for example, by deciding for how long each day the child can use the device for playing games, watching movies or chatting.
According to experts, primary school children should only spend an hour a day at most using a TV, computer or smartphone.
From a developmental psychological point of view, sensory experience is very important at this age, Ritzer-Sachs says.
That means activities such as climbing, running and playing outside. — dpa
More kids are getting smartphones at an earlier age. — 123rf.com