There is no shortage of advice and opinions about when and how to introduce and increase internet access and device usage to children. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, we believe it’s important for parents to think intentionally about when their own children are ready to explore the boundless world of the internet.

In today’s blog, we’ve developed a list of recommended resources and information that parents can employ to make the best decisions for their own kids and families. We’re proud to keep you and your family connected—and we hope these resources help you keep your kids safe online, too!

  1. The American Psychological Association’s Health Advisory on Social Media Use in Adolescence

The American Psychological Association’s (APA) Health Advisory on Social Media Use in Adolescence provides a concise but thorough review of the current findings about social media impacts on teens. It’s a good place to start because it discusses some of the variability among different age-ranges—and how different each child can be.

The advisory also helps each parent think more about their particular kid’s maturity level (rather than just their age number) when assessing when it’s time to increase internet access. The APA’s health advisory should provide a solid background in the underlying “psychology” of internet and social media usage for children, as well as potential issues they may encounter as they age.

  1. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ PhoneReady Questionnaire

Through its collaboration with AT&T, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) developed a 10-question questionnaire to help parents think through their child’s development and maturity before determining whether to let their kid have a first cell phone or other device.

While the AAP’s PhoneReady Questionnaire may not prove to be the decisive factor in parents’ decision-making, it will certainly help them think through the major considerations—both pros-and-cons—in a simplified and well-organized way. We also like that it takes certain factors into account for why parents may actually want their kids to have a smartphone, including for health and safety reasons (i.e., facilitating easy contact and communication between parent and child) and tracking their kids’ location at any time.

  1. Wait Until 8th

Wait for 8th is a comprehensive website that utilizes a “pledge”—a commitment of parents to wait until their kid is in 8th grade before giving them a smartphone (though you don’t need to agree to the pledge or even its suggested 8th grade timeframe to benefit from its information and advice).

As some children receive their first smartphone as early as age 10 (or in some instances, even earlier), many parents will begin to feel the pressure from both their own children and, perhaps indirectly, their own fellow parent peers to allow device use earlier than they judge it best. Wait for 8th’s pledge and numerous resources can help parents feel more empowered to decide to wait until they believe the time is right—and their own child is ready—for smartphones and internet use as they grow up.

  1. The AAP’s Family Media Plan

Developed with experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Family Media Plan is an outstanding resource to plot out the kinds of internet and device usage—and the amount of time of that usage—for each member of the family over a given time period (e.g., whether daily, weekly, or monthly, etc.).

Users input key information such as the age range of each family member and their individualized online interests and device needs. The Family Media Plan also helps parents model good internet and device usage habits, because children typically follow what their parents do more than what they say.

At Alpine Communications, we’re dedicated to keeping families connected, but we also understand the importance of ensuring children’s safety online. We hope that the recommended resources mentioned in this blog will empower parents to make informed decisions that keep their kids safe and secure in the digital world. Thank you for trusting us to be a part of your family’s online journey!