My daughter is almost 13 and she does not have a phone. I don't think she should have one yet but she says that all her friends have one, and that is true. She is responsible but I am not sure if I should buy her one yet because I want her to be safe on the Internet and on social media.

Currently I'm planning on getting her one when she turns 15 1/2 but she says that's too late.

Is there any good research on the effects of smart phones on adolescents of different ages? I'd like to make an informed decision I can talk to my daughter about.

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    This is a Q&A site (not a discussion forum with which you might be more familiar.) This question is not very specific; its answers will just be someone's opinion. A more specific question (e.g., Are there any studies that provide evidence of benefit or detriment regarding smart phones for youth as young as 13?) If you can make this more specific (not, "Am I right or am I wrong?"), please edit and flag for reopening. Thanks. – anongoodnurse Jan 23 '18 at 3:47
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    The internet is full of articles about this, just google "best age for a child to have a phone". Example nytimes.com/2016/07/21/technology/personaltech/… and parenting.com/blogs/children-and-technology-blog/… – Lynob Jan 23 '18 at 13:19
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    @Lynob Thanks. But that is no reason not to ask here too. – neverMind9 Jan 23 '18 at 16:14
  • @anongoodnurse That is a bit of editing and the question is s dup. – paparazzo Jan 23 '18 at 22:40
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    @Paparazzi - That question is 5 years old. Surely some studies have come out since then. – anongoodnurse Jan 24 '18 at 0:38

I agree with her, that 15 is too late, especially if you want to have something to say in what she does with her phone. Also you can't learn how to use the internet by not using the internet. It is like trying someone to teach how to drive only by stories.

I would go with buying her one, and use it to encourage her to use the useful sides as well as have an eye on her social media behaviour.

Encouragement for example with, when she is asking you something, tell her to use google/wikipedia to get the information.

While you can see her social media behaviour by letting her have for example a Face book account and be in her friend list. That way you can be aware of what she does there. Or at least get a hint that she might be up to no good if she blocks you from certain information.

If you try to keep her away from this things until she is 15, then it is very likely that she finds a way to do it anyway, without you even knowing. Getting a smartphone isn't that hard if you really want to.

  • Also, this may give her the freedom to research sites that aren't suitable for a teen (which may include porn sites). Provide an outlet for her to ask whatever questions she may have on a website, and don't "get her in trouble" for going to a site you may not approve of. If you can be the person she comes to when she has questions about inappropriate material or conduct, it's much easier to correct when you're both on the same side. She's still a teen, so provide a moral compass (lying for instance is generally frowned on), but support her natural curiosity in general. – Anoplexian Jan 23 '18 at 22:27
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    15 is too late for what? Is she going to die if she doesn't get one by then? "Getting a smartphone isn't that hard if you really want to"? Where do you live that they're handing out smartphones for free to teenagers? I would notice if my teenager had a phone that I didn't buy, especially when she randomly stops asking for one for no reason. There are other ways to learn about the Internet other than from a smartphone. – John Doe Jan 24 '18 at 0:08
  • Kids will always see things that are not intended for them. The advantage of children making the first steps into the internet is, that they will usually talk about what they see, which gives parents the ability to help them to understand. That said, the teenager in question is already 13 years old. So she very likely already has seen porn in some or another way and had her first sexual experiences, at least with her self and not very unlikely with others around her age. Trying to protect a teenager from mistakes with there sexuality by trying to block sex from their life is the most * – Etaila Jan 25 '18 at 21:01
  • * dangerous thing you can do. I've seen that more than enough, parents that didn't want to tell their kids about sex, or religious idiots that thought abstinence is in anyway an effective way to deal with the topic. The result are diseases, unwanted pregnancies and families that hate each other. So yes she will see porn, but it is only a problem if the parents can't get their shit together. For dealing with other weird stuff it is similar. The reality makes us deal with that, if you can't deal with that behind a device, you will definitely fail in life, with way worse results than online. – Etaila Jan 25 '18 at 21:10
  • @JohnDoe Girls begin to hit puberty with age 11, with about 13 they start to get sexually active and to distance themselves from their parents. With 15 they are already that far into puberty, that they know everything better and it is really difficult to get through to them. Also unless she is isolated from other children, she is already seeing stuff, shown around from other kids, with 15 she will already have seen tons of stuff from the net, probably the dark net as well. If you wait till then, then you can just give it up entirely. Preparing, starts before not after something happened.* – Etaila Jan 25 '18 at 21:12

Perhaps consider getting her a "dumb" phone, ie, one that only texts and calls. They still exist, and perhaps this could be a motivational tool, e.g.:

This is the phone that I am willing to provide for you. If you want something different, we need to discuss what extra chores you're going to be doing around the house to pay for your own phone.

I emphasize extra because I'm a firm believer that children shouldn't be paid for things they should already be doing like cleaning their room, getting good grades, etc.

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    I guess the whole point of her getting a phone is not necessarily to call and text (we are not living in the 90s anymore). Teens want to be equal to their peers - and in this case it is more around social media and less so calls and texts. – ssn Jan 24 '18 at 10:18
  • Of course teens want to be equal to their peers. But just because they wasn't something doesn't mean that they will get it, or that they need it, or that it will be healthy for them. – John Doe Jan 24 '18 at 14:53
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    I am definitely not saying that they should, but I am saying that your suggestion is probably just as far away (for the daughter) as if I wanted a new TV and someone suggests that I get a magazine instead. If the purpose of the daughter wanting a phone, is to be social with her friends thru e.g. Instragram or other SoMe's, then having a device that can only text and/or call will do her no good - and then why bother to begin with? I believe the keyword in OP's post is Smartphone as in little pocket computer and not Phone as in a device that can make phonecalls. – ssn Jan 24 '18 at 15:14
  • When I was twelve, I was at a family event and a slightly older cousin said that he was going to watch the movie Hannibal, and wondered if I wanted to watch as well. I asked my mom if it was okay, and she said no, suggesting we should watch something else. Should I have been allowed to watch it just because the replacement was something radically different? Also, it seems like giving her a smartphone because all her friends have one is saying that it's okay if she seeks external validation, as well as that her well being is tied to material possessions. – John Doe Jan 24 '18 at 16:47
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    I don’t agree that your example is the same. Had your mother suggested that you reading a book instead - that would have been something radically different. In that case, giving you the option between not watching the movie and doing nothing might, in your world, have been the same thing. Giving a person a “dumb” phone as an alternative to a smartphone may be just as far off as suggesting to read a book (or having someone describe to you the movie) rather than watching a said movie. Choosing to watch another movie may better relate to say getting a different smartphone than what you wished. – ssn Jan 24 '18 at 18:55

Age matters less than education.

First, educate her about known dangers and how to avoid it.

Second, teach her to use the smartphone as a productive tool! Not as a status symbol.

The original purpose of a smartphone is versatility and productivity, not mirror posing!

Additional thing: Keep away from Snapchat filters. They roast the identity and reputation of your child, especially infamous animal filters.

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    Her, not him. :) – John Doe Jan 23 '18 at 16:52

Whether or not there are studies, there is also sheer pragmatism. Many homes no longer have land lines, and pay phones are a thing of the distant past. If your teen is to be able to communicate with you, say to let you know she's gone to a friend's house, or she's in a bad place and needs a ride home, she will need a phone. My own daughter got her first phone when she started babysitting her brother at 12 or 13, because when the parents were gone so were the phones.