In a recent interview with the Mirror, Bill Gates said his children were not allowed to own cellphones until they turned 14 years old.
“We often set a time after which there is no screen time, and in their case that helps them get to sleep at a reasonable hour,” Gates said.
Gates said he does not allow children to have cellphones at the table, but they can use them for homework or studying.
According to Upworthy, Gates’ children, now 20, 17, and 14 are all over the legal age to own a cellphone, but they are still banned from owning any Apple products since Gates has a long-standing rivalry with Apple founder Steve Jobs.
As of 2016, the average age of children who get their first smartphone is 10.3 years old, according to the “Kids & Tech: The Evolution of Today’s Digital Natives” report.
“I think that age is going to trend even younger because parents are getting tired of handing their smartphones to their kids,” Stacy DeBroff, chief executive of Influence Central, disclosed to The New York Times.
James P. Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, which tests content and products for families, told the Times he too has a strict policy when it comes to cellphones: Children get them when they enter high school and after they’ve shown they can manage them.
“No two kids are the same, and there’s no magic number,” he continued.
“A kid’s age is not as important as his or her own responsibility or maturity level.”
Meanwhile, PBS Parents offered parents a list of questions to consider before giving their children their first mobile phone.
- How independent are your kids?
- Do your children “need” to be in touch for safety reasons—or social ones?
- How responsible are they?
- Can they get behind the concept of limits for minutes talked and apps downloaded?
- Can they be trusted not to text during class, disturb others with their conversations, and use the text, photo, and video functions responsibly (and not to embarrass or harass others)?
- Do they really need a smartphone that is also their music device, a portable movie and game player, and a portal to the internet?
- Do they need something that gives their location information to their friends—and maybe some strangers, too—as some of the new apps allow?
- And do you want to add all the expenses of new data plans? (Try keeping your temper when they announce that their new smartphone got dropped in the toilet…)