What exactly is the right age to give your child their first smartphone? “There is no ideal age”, Karen Linten of Mediawijs. “As a parent you can sense whether a child is ready. Some children are more independent, others are slightly more sensitive to addictive mechanisms. Age matters less to us than the guidance that comes with it.”
What exactly does that mean? “Have regular conversations with your kids about how they are doing. Without those conversations, it’s harder to manage screen use,” she says.
In addition, according to Linten, it is important to make clear agreements together and to apply them consistently. “For example, only on WiFi at home and no mobile data subscription (yet). Then build up this systematically. If your child wants to be on social media, create the account together so that you can watch.”
Following along is important, especially in the beginning. “If things threaten to get out of hand, find out what makes your child so addicted to that smartphone,” says Linten. “There is no such thing as ‘smartphone addiction’, it usually involves one specific activity.”