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My child is asking for a new device and I’m not sure they’re ready for one

It’s important to think carefully before getting any kind of device for your child. Not only can it be an expensive decision, it’s also necessary to consider the 5 ‘Ws’.

What kind of device is it and what level of connectivity does it offer?

Does the device allow you to connect with friends, online friends, and other people you might not know? Our Parents and Carers Guide to Technology provides specialist advice for phones, consoles, laptops, smart speakers, and TVs, including information on privacy and security settings and how to set them up.

Who will be using it?

Will it be a family owned device, or just for your child? If it’s a personal device then it’s important that you’re aware of the in-built settings that are available, such as the content and privacy restrictions that can help to control things like age ratings, location sharing, downloading, and screentime etc.

When and where will the device be used?

Is it portable, or will it stay in one place in the home? Will it go into your child’s bedroom, or will they take it out and about with them? Creating a Family Agreement for your technology use can help set out your rules and expectations.

Why does your child want one?

Is this an upgrade to an existing device that might be past its best, or are they asking because, ‘all their friends have one!’? As a parent or carer, it can be difficult to explain the cost of new devices and relay your concerns in a child-friendly way. If your child is asking for their first phone, then Childnet’s ‘First Phone Checklist’ has all the advice you need to make an informed decision.

Remember, even if your child is putting pressure on you, as their parent or carer only you know if they’re ready to use the device they’re asking for, and if they can demonstrate the responsibility and maturity needed to enjoy it safely.