5 Signs Your Teen Isn't Ready for a Smartphone

Is your teen really ready for a smartphone?
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According to the Pew Research Center, almost 75% of American teens own a smartphone. But just because your teen says, “Everyone else has a phone, why can’t I?” doesn’t mean you need to get him one.

The truth is, most teenagers aren’t yet ready to handle the giant responsibility of owning a smartphone. So before you agree to let your teen get one, make sure he’s really ready to have one. Here are five signs that you’re teen isn’t yet ready to have his own smartphone:

1. Your Teen Struggles with Other Responsibilities

Carrying around an expensive, breakable piece of electronic equipment requires a fair amount of responsibility. If your teen loses his homework, or frequently breaks things because he’s careless, his ability to keep his cellphone safe is fairly low.

So before investing in a smartphone, consider how responsible your teen is likely to be with a smartphone. Can he safely carry it to and from school without dropping it? Is he likely to misplace it when he’s out with his friends? If so, consider waiting until he’s gained some maturity.

2. Your Teen Doesn’t Accept Responsibility for Mistakes

If your teen has a smartphone, it’s almost guaranteed that he’ll make a mistake at one time or another. Whether he forgets his phone in his locker, or he accidentally downloads an app that costs money, it’s bound to happen at some point. The way your teen responds to mistakes makes a big difference.

If your teen tends to lie to cover up his mistakes, or he avoids dealing with issues when they arise, a smartphone may become rather problematic. Instead of going to you and saying, “I think I just downloaded an app with a daily fee,” you likely won’t find out until you get the bill. Before allowing your teen to take on the responsibility of owning a smartphone, make sure he can accept personal responsibility when he messes up.

3. Your Teen Doesn’t Follow Your Rules

If you’re going to give your teen a smartphone, rules should be put in place. Rules may range from “Your smartphone should be turned in before bedtime,” to “No using your phone during class.”

If your teen isn’t good at following other rules, however, there’s a good chance he isn’t going to follow the cellphone rules. So before you trust your teen to follow the rules associated with managing an expensive electronic device, make sure you can trust he’s able to follow your rules consistently.

4. Your Teen Lacks Self-Control

Smartphones can easily get teens who lack self-control into trouble. Temptations may include anything from texting while driving to sexting with a romantic partner.  If your teen struggles to resist such temptations, there could be serious consequences.

Make sure your teen is able to exhibit impulse control before giving him a smartphone. It’s essential that your teen be able to resist peer pressure and also that he is able to manage his anger well.

Teens who lack anger management skills may make impulsive decisions – like throwing the phone against the wall in a fit of rage or posting an inappropriate comment on social media.

5. Your Teen Struggles Socially

A smartphone isn’t likely to improve your child’s social skills. In fact, research shows too much screen time can decrease a child’s emotional intelligence. If your child already has some social struggles, you may want to think twice about giving him a smartphone.

Sometimes teens who feel socially awkward bury their faces in their phones as a way to avoid face-to-face conversations. Shy teens, or those who struggle to make friends, often find solace in talking to people online. But the more your teen avoids face-to-face interaction, the more difficult social situations may become.  

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