A guide to giving a child their first phone


The biggest step for teenagers was getting their driver’s license, opening them up to a new world of freedom and danger. For many, this is now their first smartphone.

Unlike a car, which comes with driving lessons, a learner’s license and a big test to ensure road readiness, many parents buy the phone first , then try to teach their children to use it. It’s a risky approach, experts say. As easy as it is to give your child more freedom, it can be difficult to get it back when they abuse it or show signs of overuse.

Helpdesk has created this guide for parents or guardians who want to be ready for that big moment, without tripping over it. We’ll cover everything from the right age to buy a smartphone to tough conversations about bullying, sexting and misinformation.

Central to all of our advice is the need to have open and ongoing conversations with children. Their needs, interests and problems will change with age, and the adults around them need to keep up. Be open to reassessment of your rules and greater flexibility as they evolve. Your goal shouldn’t be to monitor everything they search for online and every private conversation they have with friends. You want to give your kids the skills they need to handle problems on their own and build enough confidence that they know they can come to you with something bigger.


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