参考消息网8月30日报道 Many parents have been in close quarters with their kids for the past year and a half. Now， as students across the country prepare to return to school full time in person， many parents of elementary- and middle-school students are wondering if they should send their kids off with a phone.
“What we know is that there is not a magic age for when to get a child a smartphone， but by age 11， 53% of kids have their own smartphone，” said Kelly Mendoza， a vice president at Common Sense Media， a nonprofit group focused on responsible media use. （The figure comes from a 2019 survey the organization conducted of more than 1，600 people between the ages of 8 and 18 in the U.S.） “Sixth grade is a big transition for kids， when they start middle school and start to have more independence，” she said.
Even though middle school is a turning point for many parents in making the leap， Ms. Mendoza said age isn't as important as a child's maturity. She said parents can assess their children's phone readiness by asking themselves the following questions: Do they show a sense of responsibility， such as getting their homework done on time？ Are they responsible for their things—do they tend to lose or damage personal items？Do they already keep other devices， such as tablets，charged？ Would they be able to resist texting or scrolling in class？
It is also wise to assess whether there are legitimate needs for children to have a smartphone， such as being able to communicate while taking public transportation， or being reminded to take medication.
Many kids start asking for a phone once their friends have one. The requests can start as early as elementary school， but the peer pressure heats up in middle school， according to digital-media experts and parents.
Understanding your children's motivation can help you decide. Do they just want one because they want to fit in？ Are they being excluded from social interactions， such as group texts？ Sometimes the pressure can even come from school clubs and sports teams. A coach might require students to check Facebook for scheduling updates.
Once you've decided to give your child a phone， the next question is what type. We generally recommend giving your kid a phone that runs on the same operating system as yours.
Deciding on the right phone for your children isn't the final step. Before they power it up for the first time， experts say you should talk to them about your expectations for its use， and the consequences for losing or damaging the phone or for violating the rules.
Ground rules include when and where the phone should be used， where it should charge up at night （hint: probably not in their bedroom）， how to treat others on social media and how to report cyberbullying.