How about 109 days after a kid’s 10th birthday? Is that the day to get the first cellphone?
It is the average age in the United States, according to a study Sprint Corp. included on a website introduced Wednesday and aimed at helping families decide when to turn tots mobile. The Sprint-created website, called KidsFirstPhone.Sprint.com, brings the debate home.
Help in making the decision comes via a link to HealthyChildren.org, which is provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics and commercially sponsored. Another linked site, Aha! Parenting by clinical psychologist Laura Markham, suggests rules for handling a first cellphone responsibly.
Sprint has posted videos on various issues for parents to consider. They feature psychotherapist and author Katie Hurley and focus on the child’s maturity and responsibility.
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“One of the first things I advise is asking yourself why you want this for your child,” Hurley said in Sprint’s announcement of the site. “Is your child mature enough? And what is the specific need for the wireless phone? Start from there and you’ll be off to a good, healthy and fruitful discussion for the entire family.”
There also is a quiz for the grownups making the call. “Does your child break things often?” is one question. Though the quiz is on a Sprint website, it is fairly easy to reach the end of the brief quiz with a suggestion to wait a bit before getting the first cellphone.
Safety carries weight in the first phone decision, and Sprint’s site hits the topic with a video by Hurley. It also covers online behavior with spots and links to others’ comments on inappropriate content, online reputation and cyberbullying.
Sprint provides apps to help a family manage phone use, locate members when needed and curb phone use while driving.
Other carriers similarly address these and other issues with online help. AT&T, for example, tackles digital parenting and other issues at its DigitalYou site.
On Sprint’s site, the Overland Park-based company saves for the end its pitch to add a line or become a customer — if the decision is to get a first phone.