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Thinking of buying your child their first smartphone?

Smartphone Safety Hub

Posted on November 29, 2017

4 min read

As parents, we’ve all been on the receiving end of our kids’ Christmas present pleas. Aged 12, I begged my mum and dad for Mork and Mindy dolls.

Skip a generation and my tweenie daughter is pledging an eternity of angelic behaviour if she could just possibly please have her own smartphone. The one which you can unlock with your face, obviously…

For almost half of Aussie kids, smartphones are top of the pressie wish list this year – and it’s looking like many parents will be responding to those requests, according to new Telstra research.

But the decision to purchase a child a smartphone comes with great consideration. What we found is that safety, both online and offline, is front of mind for most parents.

For almost two thirds of parents, the main reason for giving their child a smartphone was to keep them safe when they were out of the home. What’s more, close to half of parents acknowledged that this open line of communication can reassure mums or dads (I can vouch for that!)

But we also found that mums and dads are understandably wary about smartphone safety and balanced usage. Parents’ top smartphone concern was that their child would spend too much time on their device, followed by breakage woes and excess data usage, and online safety worries.

Most importantly, almost nine in 10 parents said they would like more information about how to introduce a smartphone into their kids pocket safely.

Enter the Telstra Foundation’s new Smartphone Safety Hub. We’ve put together this portal to provide parents with tips, tools and advice to help get a handle on digital safety and ways to instil healthy device habits too.

You’ll find articles and insight on how to use smartphone security features like parental controls and a special Christmas First Smartphone Agreement, which allows parents and kids to set ground rules together.

As a mum of a teenager and tweenager, the “debut device” dilemma is one I’ve faced twice over. How do you decide when to bring a smartphone into your child’s life?

Although 12 is currently the most common age for parents to give their child their first smartphone, the truth is there is no ‘right’ age for a smartphone or ‘magic number’ – if a child demonstrates the responsibility needed to have their own device – they may be ready. And for every age, the way a child uses the device is different, as is the level to which parents are involved in monitoring content and devices.

Smartphones are introducing a new language for the modern family, especially families with older teenagers. Our smartphone research delved into the impact smartphones and technology were having on family dynamics.

I get ‘TTYL mum’ (talk to you later) and ‘BRB’ (be right back), but smartphones are also creating new ways for families to communicate and connect. What we’re starting to see the emergence of the ‘connected family’ and ‘connected independence’ for young people. Two-thirds of parents said the main benefit for children owning a smartphone was to give them greater independence – while staying connected with family.

About two thirds of parents told us they now communicate with their kids at least once a day via a smartphone – with text messages the most popular way of connecting, followed by calls and chat-apps – and 18 per cent said their child had used a smartphone to tell them something they couldn’t say face to face.

There is no doubt technology opens endless opportunities of communication, engagement and education – but when it comes to kids and technology, safety has to be first conversation we have.

Every child and every family is different. And there’s no right way to bring a smartphone into the family, we hope the tips and tools on this Smartphone Safety Hub make it easier for every member of your family to take this journey with confidence.

Tags: cyber safety,