Your child’s first smartphone – are they old enough?
Children often have access to devices, including smartphones, from a very young age.
Whether it’s watching their favourite program through streaming services on your
phone, using educational apps or simply viewing photos with you and the family, they
are engaging with devices in one form or another.
But when is my child old enough to
be given their own mobile phone?
In 2012, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed
children as young as five years old owned a mobile
phone – two percent of children aged between five
and eight years old, and 29 percent for children aged
five to 14 years. This figure is likely to be higher now!
For many parents and carers, five years old would
seem too young. For others, it might offer them
peace of mind and security to know they can keep
in touch with their child—especially in an emergency.
The right age for your child will depend on their level
of maturity. It’s worth asking yourself the following
questions before handing over a digital device.
• Does my child have a good
sense of responsibility?
• Are they able to stick to
• Do they show a good
understanding of actions
• Do they come to me or
another trusted adult
when they are distressed
or encounter problems?
For younger children it’s best to start with a
mobile phone without internet access, and
introduce a smartphone when they demonstrate
an appropriate level of maturity. Some younger
children might argue that they are ready for a
smartphone, especially if their friends already
have one. But it’s worth holding out until you feel
confident that your child is mature enough.
My child has their first smartphone
– now what?
When your child receives their first smartphone it’s
a great opportunity to instil safe online behaviours
early on, so they can carry these skills through to
their teens and beyond.
Here are some tips for getting them on board with
good online habits.
Establish rules at the outset
with clear boundaries
Talk about expectations and the consequences
for not meeting these rules. Depending on the age
of your child, you might want to set up a written
signed agreement which lists the rules.
Here are some you may want to agree on:
• No phones after a certain time
(i.e. 8.00 pm) – unless in an emergency.
• Keep to daily screen time limits
(i.e. 1 hour per school night).
• Family time is a no-phone zone (i.e. dinner).