As children around the country head back to school, many parents face the dilemma of deciding whether itâ€™s time to get their child a smartphone.
At the Silkowski home, computers and iPads are not hard to find, but mom Johanna draws the line at smartphones for 10-year-old Jack and 6-year-old Charles.
â€œThey have enough electronics inside that they donâ€™t need to be outside on a cellphone,â€ she said.
How does a parent know when a child is ready for a smartphone? Dr. Corinn Cross, a pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, says it depends on the maturity of the child, but many families make the decision around middle school.
â€œThink about the situation your child is in and why you really want to get them the phone,â€ Cross told CBS News. â€œDo you want to get them the phone for safety? Do you want to get them the phone so they communicate with their friends? And then make sure theyâ€™re ready to handle the responsibility that you are giving them.â€
How many kids have a phone? A 2015 study from Pew Research Center found nearly three-quarters of teens ages 13 to 17 have or have access to a smartphone. As for younger children, a study in 2012 commissioned by the National Consumers League found nearly nearly 60 percent of parents with â€œtweenersâ€ (8- to 12-year-olds) have bought a cellphone for their child. The study found about half the tweens (48 percent) got a basic cellphone with texting, 20 percent got a basic non-smartphone with texting and Web access, and 27 percent got a smartphone.
Before you hand your kids that first phone, Cross says sit down and set limits. She suggested making sure that the phone is charged overnight in a common area, rather than taken into the childâ€™s room at bedtime, and no texting at the dinner table. Parents also need to discuss the dangers of cyberbullying.
And be up front with kids if you plan to check their texts, emails and phone calls.
â€œI think that is a good thing to say,â€ says Cross. â€œI have a right to look and see if you are sending inappropriate texts, so donâ€™t do anything that you would be embarrassed by me seeing.â€
A final tip: experts say if parents green-light a phone for younger children, itâ€™s a good idea to set up safety controls. There are many apps that can help.
While many of his friends are starting to get smartphones, Jack Silkowski says heâ€™s OK with relying on an iPad and going without his own phone for now.
â€œThe only person Iâ€™m really texting is my best friend about Minecraft,â€ he said.