SINGAPORE: Recent news about the French issuing a nationwide ban on mobile phone use in schools created a slight uproar, with ripples reaching here in Singapore where it is not uncommon to see children as young as those in Primary 1 brandishing their own mobile phones.

We all know the pros and cons of having a phone – the convenience of being able to contact your children versus the danger of falling into different forms of cyber addiction. So how do we balance these out?

How should we be making our decisions as to whether or not to give our kids a phone, when to give it, and how to control it?

IS THERE EVER A GOOD AGE?

Is age a good gauge for when to give a child a phone? 

Children develop and mature at their own individual pace. While my daughter may be emotionally and mentally ready to bear the responsibility for an expensive item like a phone by a certain age, I may not be able to say the same for her younger brothers, who may need a couple more years to catch up to a similar level of maturity. 

Some people would say it’s not wise for a child in lower primary to carry a phone as they may misplace it. My own son who started Primary 1 this year has already lost an umbrella, a water bottle and a wallet (although this was later retrieved), so I cannot yet fathom placing a mobile phone in his care at this stage.

There is also no need for him to have one as I pick him from school every day. However, some kids start to travel home alone at an early age, so it’s understandable that their parents would prefer for them to hold on to a phone so they can contact them if there is an emergency.

READ: Learning to let go as a parent of a Primary 1 child, a commentary

READ: Are you a helicopter parent? A commentary

Penelope Patterson plays a game on his phone at his home in Brooklyn, New York

A child plays a game on his phone (Photo: Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

So individual needs have to be considered too – or the whys of having a…

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