Ask Maggie: How Young is Too Young For a Smartphone?

May 7, 2019

Dear Maggie:

How young is too young for a smartphone? Kids in second grade are starting to have them. I am so not ready for everything that comes along with this! 

Dear Smartiephone, 

Sometimes I think we have to take a step back and release ourselves from the past “ways to do things” and look at today’s society and make it easy on ourselves.

Dumb it down. Here's a super simple economics lesson you can do to figure this out: needs vs. wants.

Answer the question: “Does my child need one?”

If you answered "needs" then really, this phone is most likely for you. (And that’s not a bad thing necessarily!) After all, there is no tablet or laptop that can’t offer your child the same apps and games that a phone does (which would put a phone in the WANTS category).

The only things I can see as NEEDS for a phone in grade two are safety and communication.

My daughter had a phone in third grade. We are a two household family and I NEEDED a way to communicate with her. I monitored everything else about that phone that came with it (all of her WANTS!). 

I knew what I was getting into and made that phone work the way I NEEDED it to.  

You have to decide what you NEED it for. Or what you and your child WANT it for and go from there. 



Ask Maggie is an advice column based on her own parenting experiences. For more on this subject, read The American Academy of Pediatrics' tips for parenting in the digital age. Common Sense Media also explores the issue and gives ideas on what questions to ask yourself before getting your child a cellphone.


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