Should we ban children from having a smartphone before age 16?


In September, the government commissioned a review about the way technology affects children’s behaviour. Tom Bennet, the school behaviour expert recommends that we shouldn’t allow children to have smartphones without adult supervision until they are 16.

What is your take on this? Personally, I think it’s not a question about age, but more about helping children have a healthier relationship with technology.

When I upgraded to a new smartphone, I gave my daughter my old one. She was just 10, then. I only had one rule for her, and that’s not to use her phone in her bedroom. Three years’ on, and I don’t see her glued to her phone. In fact, she only ever use it for texting me when I’m late picking her up and to listen to her music while waiting for me. She also has skype, and she use it to have a group chat with her friends when they’re playing Minecraft. It’s on speaker in the playroom, so most of the time, we join in the banter and get to know her friends.

As both my husband works in telecommunications and I work online, our house is never short of technology. We have 4 computers, 3 tablets and 4 smartphones at home, yet my children’s past time is reading. I think instead of focusing on the evils of technology, we need to teach our children how to use technology effectively.


Top Tip…turn off the router when homework is finished…!

I have young teenagers and they have to ensure they have done all their homework by 9pm as they know wifi access goes off at that time…however, unbeknown to them, I turn it back on again once they’re in bed, about 20 minutes later, and catch up on my own emails, shopping and browsing for the rest of the evening:wink:


My eldest is almost 13 and has an old smartphone which was a hand-me-down when his Dad got a new one. It’s not so much the phone use which annoys me, it’s the computer games and if he could, he’d be on “The Escapists” or Minecraft every waking hour! I make him do his homework at the kitchen table, well out of the lure of electronic devices.


Both my children are into computer games too, especially Minecraft. They do spend about 2 hours after school on playing the games or watching it on YouTube. I do feel that they spend a bit more on it than I’m comfortable with, but at the moment, when they play or watch, I stay in the same room, chatting with them about the game and the people playing. This way, I can talk to them about it. It has become a point of conversation not only with them but with kids their age. I can sit with an 8 year old or a 13 year old kids, listen to what they say and actually have a sensible opinion to offer:)


I can understand the need for children to have mobile phones to keep in touch with parents, because the world has changed from when we were young. However, I don’t think that children should be allowed to use social media - because it adds a whole new pressure (a huge, distracting pressure) to their lives that they simply shouldn’t have to deal with at that age. It can be a medium for bullying, it can take time away from homework, it can be addictive, and it can cause stress and anxiety depending on what they see online. I personally would happily see phones banned for under 16s - in fact I wouldn’t mind if social networking were a thing of the past altogether, but I suppose I can’t expect that.


It’s true that social media can be distracting, but I have a different take it on it, and I would encourage to use it responsibly. Most of my siblings live abroad, so my kids don’t get the chance to socialise with their cousins as often as I would like. But with the help of Facebook, they get to know each other, share special moments. That to me is priceless. Yes, there’s always the phone or video calling, but it would not be as easy and cheap.

Of course, I’m aware of possible pitfalls, but I’m hoping that I’ve educated my kids about the potential danger so they are streetwise enough not to let social media rule them.


My son got his first mobile phone at 11 when he went to secondary school. He was one of the last in his group of friends to get a phone. I feel that each milestone comes quickly enough and as you tick each one off, you never get that time back. I knew as soon as he got a phone, he’s have one for ever and ever.

So I always try and delay as long as humanly possible with all these ‘freedoms’… walking to school alone, having an email address, etc. Try not to bow to THEIR peer pressure. Remember: you are their parent not their friend and most children like boundaries and rules!

I think banning until 16 is just impossible as the world has moved in too far – and too fast.

But, hey, people used to smoke on airplanes and in pubs and many said that a ban would never happen. So maybe… just maybe…


I guess the answer to this question also depends on the individual child. My 10 year old is still so irresponsible, he’ll have lost the phone within an hour! “Find my iPhone” will need to charge us for excessive use of the service.