A new survey has found that the average age a child receives a cell phone is six-years-old. The number of children with their own cell phones has steadily climbed over the years and now, 53 percent of children own cell phones by age seven.
Vouchercloud.net, a coupon company, asked approximately 2,290 American parents what kinds of technology they have bought for their children and at what ages.
When asked why they bought cell phones for their children, parents listed safety and enabling their children to keep in touch with family and friends as the top reasons. However, 20 percent reported that they wanted their kids to have cell phones so that they could keep up with classmates at school.
The survey results also revealed remarkably high numbers of general technology ownership among children. It’s not just cell phones that children own; according to the survey, 83 percent have a TV or sound system, 75 percent have a tablet, 71 percent have a handheld gaming console, 65 percent have an eBook reader and 51 percent have an Xbox or Playstation. Parents paid an average of $462 on technology for their children.
Despite research that has claimed the rising use of technology is having a negative impact on children’s academic performance, social development and physical and mental health, Matthew Wood of Vouchercloud.net believes that technology can be beneficial to children.
"The fact that most 6-year-old kids have cell phones in their pockets while out on their bikes or playing with their friends shows just how much technology is part of our lives at a young age," said Wood. "It's not necessarily the bad thing it's often made out to be; children learn about taking responsibility for things, looking after their possessions and they are much easier to contact if needed, but it's crucial that they use this technology in a way that doesn't affect their normal social skills and growth."
Experts are more cautious on when parents should give their children cell phones.
“A lot depends not on chronological age but on how mature your child is,” said Fran Walfish, Psy.D., Beverly Hills psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent, to Yahoo News. “But in general, a child should be at least 10, ideally 12 or 13.”
Sharon Silver, founder of Proactive Parenting, suggested that parents debating whether or not to buy their children cell phones ask themselves a few crucial questions such as if their children often lose things, do the children actually need cell phones and whether or not their children’s friends have cell phones.
Image source: Jessica Fiess-Hill / Flickr