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Keeping kids safe while allowing them to use cellphones

With phones acting an extension of our everyday lives it's important to keep kids away from inappropriate content and dangerous websites on cell phones.

TOLEDO, Ohio — At some point, all parents are faced with the inevitable question: when should my kid get a cellphone?

This topic is top-of-mind more than ever now, with phones and technology acting as an extension of our everyday lives, and keeping kids away from inappropriate content and dangerous websites on cell phones is a concern for parents.

"There's always going to be a concern they're going to be looking at inappropriate material," says Dr. Aimee Drescher with Mercy Health, “And when we do find it? It's also important to have that conversation and have some kind of natural consequence for it."

Still, the obvious benefit to allowing your child to have a phone is obvious with the ease of convenience, since you can get a hold of them and they, you.

Bill Brady, the co-founder of Troomi Wireless, says providing a child with a cell phone is also good for growth.

"If we can introduce phones to kids in a safe way, it's also good preparation for them to become disciplined and mature users of technology as they grow older."

Parents may begin wondering when they should get their child a cell phone? It's a question many families are dealing with, and Brady says the answer is a complex one.

"Different families have different family needs and different family cultures. It really comes down to the needs and the maturity of the child and you have to be ready to introduce both the connectivity and everything else that comes with having instant phone and internet access."

A poll by Pew Research shows parents believe a child should be about 12 years old when they get their first phone, but Drescher says it's also a matter of knowing their maturity level.

“Parents know their kids. You know your kid best, you know when your kid may or may not be able to handle something. And so, therefore, allowing them to dabble into the world of cellphones is important."

Drescher reminds us that parenting is about balance so it's important to allow your kids to have access to technology their friends are using.

Brady agrees, which is why he created Troomi: a cellular network specifically designed for kids, providing a safe introduction to apps and the internet and KidSmart™ Apps.

“It allows parents to cater the experience to a 9-year-old vs a 12-year-old vs a 15-year-old. We still eliminate all the negative stuff: no pornography, no social media, no addictive games."

Not only does it come with unlimited talk and texts and a safe list for talking that parents approve but Brady says it will soon have a function for parents to remotely check kids’ phones for content.

Bottom line, the decision to give your child their first cell phone is up to you as a parent. 

Just make sure you continue to monitor their use and keep in mind that some experts say the constant stimulation available on smartphones can be especially distracting for kids with ADHD and can make it difficult for them to re-focus on homework or chores.