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When is the Best Time to Get a Smart Phone for My Child?

From an early age, when my kids were able to access Youtube and play online games on our family desktop computer, I had to establish limits and boundaries. My wife and I imposed all kinds of limits, such as no internet use during weekdays unless it was a homework assignment, and absolutely no online gaming unless it was on a weekend.

Times have changed, and so has technology. My kids don’t access our old desktop computer anymore, they now have the options of using a smart phone, tablet or laptop.

As you can tell, when it comes to technology, I'm probably more extreme in my approach to parenting than most people of my generation. And apparently, I'm not alone. Tech founders and wealthy parents working in Silicon Valley, such as Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs, understand the addictive power of smartphones, tablets and computers, and they openly talk about limiting their children’s access to these gadgets.

When you're thinking about buying a smartphone for your child, you're investing in a powerful communication device, with 24/7 access to text, videos and images. So it pays to seriously think through this decision.

Here are some things to consider:

* Are you prepared for the additional expense of a mobile phone contract?

* Are your kids mature and responsible? For example, can they be trusted not to use their phone in class, or to not let their device interfere with their homework?

* Do your kids really “need” a smart phone for safety and communication purposes? Or do they need it because it's the "coolest" thing to have?

* Are your kids forgetful and tend to lose things? If so, expect them to lose their phone too!