Right now in America, the most common answer to this question is “wait as long as possible.” TheWait Until 8th Pledge is one of the most well-recognized movements to equip parents with the research they need to postpone giving their children phones until they are thirteen or fourteen years old.
The most common reasons to get a child a phone are:
- Leaving the child home alone while getting groceries or visiting friends
- Enabling the child to do some babysitting or other semi-formal first jobs
- Staying in contact while the child is at camps, sleepovers, sports team events, or visiting extended family
- Ending the parent “bad cop” drama or comparison to other kids/parents
But divorced parents have a unique reason: to contact your child when they’re not with you, maintaining a positive relational connection with both parents even when not with one.
While our research so far has found that most dads want to get their child a phone one to two years before moms typically do, in a child custody situation, both parents do not usuallyhaveto see eye-to-eye to get started. Oof!
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A Better Reason to Give Your Child a Phone!
At Pinwheel, we think there’s now a new, better reason to give your child a phone early:to teach them how to use one!
Most parents apply this method of teaching to most other areas of child development.
Which would you choose?
- “You can’t cross the street until you’re thirteen!”
- “Let me show you how to safely cross the street. You can’t cross on your own until you are x number of years old.”
- “Here’s an adult bicycle! We’ve adjusted the seat so you can reach the pedals, now figure it out.”
- Here’s a bicycle that was designed specifically for someone your size. Once you get the hang of it, we’ll take off the training wheels.”
Obviously, we would choose number two in both examples.
So why isn’t it obvious that we would want a smartphone specifically designed for children that teaches them how to use technology responsibly?
Not only is it an approach that avoids years of resentment and argument (with your child and your ex), but it also establishes healthy tech habits for your children. At Pinwheel, we acknowledge the very real dangers that smartphones pose, especially to kids. In fact, we designed Pinwheel phones with those very real dangers in mind.
Pinwheel is Designed for the Split Home
Instead of forcing default settings down your throat, the Pinwheel kid’s phone was designed to accommodate the variety of custody issues and arrangements that might arise. Here’s how it works:
- One-way Sharing – Each parent, guardian, or caregiver that has custody can determineexactly which information to share with the other caregivers when the child is under their care. The other caregiver may see those settings but will have to negotiate any changes directly with the other caregiver—the child is not trapped in the middle.
- Independent Phone Settings – The Pinwheel phone can essentially function as two or more phones. When the child goes to the other parent’s care, the phonecompletely changes apps, modes, restrictions, contact lists, curfew, and permissions to match that household’s rules. And then it changes back. If both caregivers allow the same apps, those apps work just fine in both homes. If not, they simply disappear when at the other person’s home.