There comes a time in every child's life where they will ask the dreaded question: "Can I get my own cellphone?" Well in this day and age where digital electronics and smart devices rule the world, it can be sort of weird for anyone not to be carrying some sort of mobile phone. But experts have always warned about letting your child use mobile phones while they're still young. Before you take out your wallet, here are some essential questions to ask yourself before you buy that expensive phone for your kids. Does my child know how to use a mobile phone? It can be hard to believe that a single child exists who may not know how to use a mobile phone. But that can oftentimes be the case. You may have never exposed your child to electronic devices all their lives. And the reason they're asking for one now is probably because they've seen their friends and peers use mobile phones. But by and large, using mobile phones, even smartphones, does not involve a steep learning\u00a0 curve. It's easy once you get the hang of it and if your child is mentally equipped to do so. Does My Child Need a Mobile Phone Mobile phones are an essential commodity in this day and age. It's hard to think about a time where they were only affordable to the upper class. Now everyone has one, because of just how important they are. Business, education, social interaction, current events, information. These things are why adults (and young adults) need mobile phones and smart phones. But do children really need them? After all phones are still banned at school and that's where your kids will be spending most of their days anyway. Is My Child Old Enough for a Mobile Phone Most parents wait till their kids are at least 10 or 12 before letting them have a mobile phone. Some not until they're 16. And this is probably for the best. Young children are still developing mentally at that age; their brains have not fully matured. Introducing electronic devices too soon for a child can cause them to develop psychological and behavioral disorders. Especially if they engage in excessive screen time. Many parents these days are guilty of using their smart phones as a form of entertainment for their kids. And this is major no-no. Are They Responsible Enough for a Mobile Phone Mobile phones, smart phones especially, are not cheap. Plus they're much more fragile than their sturdier predecessors. A Nokia phone may survive falling onto hard pavement a dozen times or more. But it only takes one small accident to crack an android or iPhone. So if you think your child is too clumsy or irresponsible for a smartphone, its probably best to wait a bit. A good way to see if your child is going to be careless with their phones is to see how they treat their belongings. Their books and their toys, etc. Then again, even if your child isn't clumsy or careless, they may misbehave and misuse their phones to play games or watch porn, so that's another thing you need to think about. Can I Afford to Buy a Phone For My Child Your child may be ready for a fun, but can you afford to buy one? That depends on your financial situation and the type of phone you want to buy. Androids are much cheaper than iPhones and require much less upkeep. But iPhones purportedly have more advanced features (which may not be necessary for a child). Even if you're well-off financially, consider buying something cheaper for your child, something that will not cost over RM600 or RM700. A great alternative is to give them a hand-me-down. Some extra phone you have lying around that's still working. Think of that as a test to see if they're truly ready for a phone. Can I Afford to Pay My Child's Monthly Phone Bills Just because you've bought a phone doesn't mean the money stops there. If they need to receive and send calls and text messages (in case of emergencies),\u00a0 then they need a phone with a SIM card. And service providers will need you to top-up a minimum amount of money each month to keep the SIM card and its phone number active. Not just that, you will still need to pay for mobile data, which can cost upwards of RM50 each month, perhaps more depending on your service provider. You can of course have your child "earn" their monthly phone bill. But that's a story for a different day. What Kind of Mobile Phone Should I Get For My Child Not all mobile phones are created equal. Back in our day, we were lucky to have those ancient, indestructible Nokia phones that had a week-long battery life. Yeah they can make and receive phone calls and text messages, but they're highly inappropriate in this day and age. So that leaves smart phones, which are multipurpose, versatile and useful. They have planners, browsers, dictionaries, calculators, notepads and e-book apps. That's just the tip of the iceberg. Ask yourself if your child can improve their studies and the quality of their lives in general with these special smart phone features. Making the Right Choice Whatever your decision is it's important to have this discussion with your spouse. It should be a unanimous deliberation from both of you. Because at the end of the day you both are responsible for your child's wellbeing. Don't be afraid to ask around and do your own research. This will help inform you of these life-altering decisions for the better. If you do decide to get your child their own mobile phone, its important to lay some ground rules. This is to prevent your child from experiencing debilitating health problems in the future. Hopefully you will make the best decision for your kids. One that will greatly benefit their mental and physical health for years to come. 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