When Should I Get My Kid a Phone?
What Makes A Safe Phone For Kids
Plenty of devices claim to be kid-friendly. But the reality is, a safe phone for kids needs more than parental controls.
To all the parents out there who worry that their 8-14-year-old isn’t ready for their first phone, we agree! There are some dangers that arise when kids get a smartphone too early.
With that said, your kid will need one someday. So how can you tell when it’s time?
How to Know Whether Your Kid Is Ready for Their First Phone
It’s a challenge for every parent to decide whether its time to buy that first kids phone. Here are some factors we used to tell when our own kids were ready for the responsibility:
A smartphone symbolizes trust. When you hand your son or daughter their first phone, you’re counting on them to use it constructively.
Look for signs that your kid is ready. Do they proactively do their chores or do you have to remind them? Do they use their other devices appropriately or do you find yourself regularly enforcing the rules?
Performance at School
A smartphone can be a great tool for research and group projects, but it can also get in the way of schoolwork. Consider your kid’s grades, behavior, and homework habits: If they have a 4.0 GPA and no discipline issues, they may well be ready for their first phone.
For kids who struggle with ADHD, anxiety, or other mental health issues, a smartphone might make things worse. Have a conversation: What’s really going on in your kid’s head? If you’re on the fence, postpone your purchase and have the conversation again in a few months. If things are really rocky, reach out to a mental health professional.
Age should never be the deciding factor when you’re considering getting your kid their first phone, but it deserves some consideration. Teens are on the move more than younger kids and they have had a lot more experience with other digital devices. Although there’s no magic number, most parents believe kids are ready for their first phone in middle school or high school.
Smartphone Risks to Consider
Negative Content Exposure
One of the most frightening things a parent faces when allowing their child to have a smartphone is exposure to content that they may not want them to see. From social media accounts to access to the Dark Web, an internet-enabled smartphone opens up parts of the world to your kids that they really shouldn’t see.
Even though sites like Instagram state that only those 13 and older can have accounts, we all know that kids—with help from their friends or a YouTube video—can figure out how to get an account anyway. From there, there are no filters on what they can see and learn about as well as who they can interact with. A shocking number of kids are also sharing adult content through “sexting.”
One in three kids have experienced cyberbullying. Bullies can be classmates at school or strangers online. Cyberbullying includes harassing, name-calling, and making fun of kids, and it often happens on social media. All of these interactions can put your kids at risk in terms of their mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Excessive Screen Time
Kids spend hours more per day using screens than they should be. According to Common Sense Media, kids aged 8-12 spend just under five hours per day in front of screens, while teens average nearly seven and a half hours per day. Neither figure, notably, includes time spent using screens for school or homework.
Spending so much time on screens can cause kids to miss out on many of the things that make childhood fun, including playing outdoors and face time with other kids. Missing these activities may impact social development later on, including making it difficult for kids to form and maintain interpersonal relationships.
Too much screen time can also take away from quality time that could be spent on school work, hobby and skill development, and other extracurricular activities. It also can reduce the amount of sleep kids get, which further interferes with concentration and mood.
A Solution For Smartphones and Kids
When it was time for the first kids phone, we had all those concerns in mind. That’s what led us to create the Gabb Phone™, which is built with a few parental priorities in mind:
Gabb gives kids more independence, which helps parents, too. Kids are empowered to call and text, so they can let their parents know if they need to be picked up at a different time, for instance. In this way, they start to understand how to effectively communicate and plan.
Gabb Phones are more affordable than other smartphones like an iPhone or Galaxy. At $149.99, Gabb Phones are a mere fraction of the price of other smartphones that can range between a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars.
While it’s important to always emphasize being responsible with their belongings, including not damaging or losing them, accidents happen. And, if they do, then it’s at a much better price point.
Less Screen Time
Because the Gabb Phone doesn’t connect to the internet or allow for app downloads, it’s a lot tougher for kids to waste hours using than a traditional smartphone. On average, kids with Gabb Phones spend 80% less time on their phones.
Bryn Williams on Apr 27, 2022 11:53 PM
Hi, I'm a teenager who currently has a gabb phone. It's great and all but I'm turning 16 in June and my sister is turning 18 in December. My parents are so strict about phones it's exhausting. I personally think that gabb phones in High school should not be a thing. There are times where we need to scan QR codes to get into basketball games, or the only way to turn in an assignment is with your phone. My parents believe very strongly that we should not have regular phones even though both me and my sister have 3.9 GPA's and are doing sports at the same time. I think it's ridiculous and I'm just wondering if there's a specific age group for the gabbs and if it's more for tweens than teenagers. Maybe if I get a response from the actual gabb wireless company then my parents will finally listen to me. (Another thing is we've had these phones for almost 2 years and we've been trying to convince them to at least consider it. 2 YEARS!)
Gabb Wireless on May 02, 2022 02:26 PM
Hi Bryn, first of all--thank you for taking the time to reach out with your questions. Congrats on great grades and balancing that with extracurriculars--that is no easy feat. We do not have a specific age range for the devices--we advocate for living life outside the screen and you've demonstrated that you're doing just that. We admire your courage and persistence. We are committed to safety first and foremost and appreciate your concerns as we continue to develop more options for families that build upon our mission. Keep in mind because of feedback just like yours, we are always improving our offerings while keeping our mission at the forefront of our efforts. Thank you again for reaching out, keep bringing the feedback and ideas--we appreciate you.
Manny on Aug 07, 2022 04:18 PM
I just want to say to Bryn Williams that I am in the exact same situation as you. I'm in high school and my parents are also very strict about phones and I have a gabb. It's so annoying not being able to do all the things your friends are doing just because of all the limitations of your phone. I definitely think that a high school aged kid should not have a Gabb phone. They say having a smartphone degrades your mental health, and I understand that they can if used wrong, but in my case I think not having a smartphone degrades my mental health far more because of all the things I miss out on that my friends are all able to do. I too have a great GPA, in the 3.9's, and play sports for my school. I don't see how having a smartphone could take away from that. Last but most certainly not least, I would like to address the reply that gabb wireless wrote to Bryn Williams, they barely even addressed the question that Bryn Williams brought up. They essentially ignored most of what was said. Do better than that gabb. I hope I can get a legit response from you, because a company that can't handle a bit of criticism needs some work.
Gabb Wireless on Aug 15, 2022 02:14 PM
Hi Manny, thank you for reaching out. We stand by our message to Bryn. The safety of kids will always be our #1 priority. We want to create devices that both protect and connect kids to family and friends. We will continue to offer the safest phones for kids and teens and we appreciate the insights you've shared. We do not take it lightly and everything you have said will be shared with our team.
Ruth on Jan 14, 2023 01:04 PM
I have a gabb phone and I hate not being able to send videos and it can be very annoying. If there is a way to do this, could someone please let me know. I believe I am mature enough to have a phone but it was actually my aunts idea to get me this phone a couple years ago. I hate being the only person in my class without a cell phone.
Gabb Wireless on Jan 19, 2023 11:58 AM
Hi Ruth! Thank you for reaching out. If you have upgraded your service to include picture and group messaging, you should be able to send videos. This upgrade is $4.99/month on top of the regular monthly bill and would need to be approved by your parent.