HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- As the summer comes to an end and students get ready for class, many parents may be wondering if they should put a cell phone on their child’s back to school list.
Tracey Roberts gave her daughter Olivia her first cell phone in middle school.
With it came some rules.
“It’s just important from social media and all that, peer pressure, to be able to see what’s going on. We have good open dialogue,” Tracey said.
Experts say that’s exactly what parents should be doing.
“The parent really has to be active and engaged with your child,” said cyber expert Lisa Good.
As for the right age, the bottom line is that there is no magic number. Experts said it’s getting younger every year.
“I waited until 15/16 when I was more worried about being able to get in touch with them,” said parent Erin Payne.
“It was pretty early for Natasha, she was in first grade. We actually let her have one of her old cell phones and we put it in her backpack when she went to school,” said parent Marie Mosher, of West Hartford.
A study from ‘Influence Central’ shows the average age is 10.
A Nielsen report shows 45 percent of kids between 10 and 12 have a smartphone.
Experts say your child’s maturity level is much more important than how old they are.
Plus, when it comes to apps like Facebook and Instagram, communicating with your children about expectations is the best call.
“Have a serious conversation on what you expect them to do with the phone. And you get what you inspect not what you expect,” Good said.
“What we’ve noticed, being open and honest about this. If we judged too much or too harsh our daughter sort of clams up a bit so you have to be open and honest otherwise, they sneak stuff that they think you would disapprove of,” Mosher said.
Experts also say parental control apps can help you keep an eye on what your kids are doing on their cell phones.
There are many to choose from, and some are free to download.