Counselor: wait until kids are 14 before allowing smartphone use

While you’re out shopping, you might be considering getting a smartphone for your kids.

Crosswinds Counseling’s Alicia DiGiulio says you probably shouldn’t, both for their personal health and their privacy’s sake, if they’re under the age of 14.

“When we give a child a smartphone, they’re able to access anything. Kids in middle school, if not younger, are being asked to send nude photos. Porn is easily accessible,” she says. “We (also) know that letting your kids have their phone at night is going to disrupt their sleep.”

New research also shows dependence on your smartphone may procude some of the same addictive brain responses as alcohol, drug and gambling addictions.

She recommends using this rule of thumb “Wait until 8th,” meaning 8th grade, when a child’s brain is more developed and they can fully understand the responsibilities that come with a phone.

DiGiulio also says if you do give your kid a phone, make sure to have plenty of conversations with them about what’s appropriate, and what’s not, and keep an eye on what they’re up to online.