At what age should our kids be allowed to have their own cell phones? When is it appropriate for them to begin using social media (Facebook, Twitter, Texting, etc.)? The overly simplistic answer: Not before their early to middle teenage years.
Few kids have the maturity to handle the pressures of these privileges prior to adolescence. In fact, many adults lack the maturity!
“Maturity” is the key word. Since the stakes are so high, I encourage parents to take the following survey to see whether their kids might be ready. Rate your answers from 1 to 5 for all the statements below. Total your score at the end.
Not at all 1—————2—————3—————4—————5 Absolutely
My child is respectful and fun to be around most of the time. ___
My child typically makes good decisions when he or she isn’t being watched. ___
My child takes responsibility for his or her poor decisions without blaming others. ___
My child believes that using technology is a privilege, not a “right.” __
My child understands that not everybody online is their “friend.” ___
My child completes chores and other duties without needing to be nagged. ___
My child isn’t hooked on drama or gossip. ___
When I ask my child to turn off the TV or computer they do so without arguing. ___
My child handles conflict, teasing and other social trials without “falling apart.” ___
My child understands the risks of sharing too much information online. ___
Obviously, the higher the score, the more confident you can be that your child possesses the basic maturity required to handle technology responsibly. If in doubt, err on the side of caution.
For great techniques to lead your child to responsible decision making, check out Four Steps to Responsibility.