One of the biggest debates that is happening in the parenting world is the debate as to whether a teenager should own their own smartphone. There are two sides to this argument, you have the side of those who agree that it’s an excellent idea for a teenager to be able to get in contact with parents, and then you have the side of mental health and social media.
Teenagers who own their own mobile phones are either paying for one themselves out of their own wages, or their parents are paying for it. We should say that it’s important to note that we are not discussing 16-19 year olds, but the 13-15 year old – most vulnerable – bracket of people. Deciding whether or not to head to www.halfcooked.co.uk and order your teenager a smartphone is your decision as a parent – and you will make the right one no matter what. For older teens, you’ll be able to find some fantastic deals for their new smartphone! However, it’s essential to know that there are pros and cons to giving your young teenager a mobile phone of their own.
Before we dive into the pros and cons, you need to talk to your partner or even to your teenager about why they want a smartphone in the first place. There are pros and cons for each of the points that they will raise, and this has to be a conversation, not an argument. Some of the points that your teenager will raise to you will include:
- “My friends all have one.”
- “I need to call you after school clubs to come and pick me up.”
- “I need one in an emergency.”
- “I want social media.”
As a parent, some of the decisions you’re going to make will not be favourable to your teenager. Let’s answer some of these:
- “What your friends have is what their parents allow – we are not their parents.”
- “Let’s talk about getting a mobile phone without the internet for pick up texts.”
- “You don’t need a smartphone in an emergency, so let’s get a regular phone.”
- “At 13, you are vulnerable to social media, and it’s not a good idea, so we’ll wait a little longer.”
We aren’t saying that your teenager is going to like these answers, but this is why it’s crucial to have a conversation about this and not a fight. You may well be perfectly happy to buy your teenager a mobile phone. It’s debatable as to whether they “need” a phone. They could well find a mobile phone handy, but it doesn’t mean that you need to give them a smartphone with internet capabilities. Social media is the cause of a lot of mental health issues in teenagers, and protecting them from that while they are in the most vulnerable stage in life is a must. They will likely tell you that without a smartphone, their social standing and happiness will wither and die. The dramatics are to be expected.
So, before you give in and you make it a thing for your teenager to have a smartphone, let’s go through the pros and cons of allowing them to have one!
- Most teenagers have a defiant streak: it comes with a territory. A mobile phone can be used as a bargaining chip if you choose to parent that way. You can talk about their behaviour, and their level of respect is what will earn them a smartphone over a regular phone (a heavily regulated smartphone, of course). If you need things done around the house, a smartphone can be the perfect tool to help you to get what you need.
- Technology today allows us to technically low jack our children. If you need to keep track of your child, then a mobile phone is the perfect way to do it. You can get in touch with them as much as you need to, with the proviso that if they do not answer the phone, they lose it.
- One of the most valid reasons to go for it and get a mobile phone is the emergency situation. If your teenager knows that they can contact you at any time of day or night, and vice versa, there’s no need to panic about a sticky situation that they can get into.
- There are cons for the pros above, and one is the chance of a hefty bill. Most parents refuse to give a mobile phone to their children because of the fact that they have a lax concept over their data use and the cost of the calls they are making beyond their inclusive minutes. It’s partly due to this that some parents will get their teenager to pay for their own phone.
- It’s not exactly challenging to drop a phone and smash the screen. Teenagers, in particular, are clumsy, which means that there is every chance they’ll drop the phone and break it – while it’s still in contract and you’re still paying for it.
- Almost every teenager wants the latest and most excellent options for their phone – which means that you are going to get nagged for every new upgrade. Of course, you don’t have to say yes to this, but it’s a con to consider when you are going to be deciding whether a new phone is the right thing for your teenager.
- Addiction is more than drugs and alcohol, and there are far more worrisome things that happen with mobile phones than most parents imagine. Children – and let’s face it, a 13-year-old is a child – need boundaries. It’s harder to enforce limits when they have the world in the palm of their hand.
In saying all of this, your teenager may well be one of the responsible ones who would be able to manage using their phone appropriately. Remember, the phone isn’t going to be the problem, but how you teach your teenager to use it. Choose wisely, and you’ll be happy with your choice.