Whether at home on the couch, waiting for the bus or just before school - the smartphone is with most young people everywhere. It has become the multimedia all-rounder and is no longer just for making phone calls. It combines Internet access, music player, movie and photo camera, notebook, address book and much more in a single device. With the smartphone, they have their personal "entertainment center" always with them. The mobile Internet connection makes it a mobile source of information. But it is also a fashion accessory, an expression of growing up and a visible sign of belonging to their age group. This is why many children and young people want to own a smartphone at an increasingly early age.

Acknowledging these aspects is important when it comes to discussing the topic of "smartphone and mobile communication" in your family and jointly establishing rules of the game for age-appropriate and responsible use. If your child realizes that it's not about control, but that you are open-minded and interested in his or her smartphone use and that he or she can always come to you with questions, a lot has already been achieved.

When is my child old enough to have his or her own smartphone?

The decision for or against a smartphone should depend primarily on the experience and the developmental stage of the child as well as the freely available functions of the respective smartphone. And even if peer pressure plays a major role when it comes to the topic of "first smartphone," as a parent you should calmly examine the advantages and disadvantages before buying a smartphone and signing a contract. The following applies: The more functions the smartphone provides unsecured, the more experienced and responsible your child should be. You should check your child's media experience particularly closely if your child can use the device to access the Internet at any time or install apps themselves. 

Depending on the smartphone contract and usage, it is also important that your child has already had their first experience with costs and monetary values , for example, they are good at managing their pocket money. Depending on the operating system, it may be possible to restrict Internet use or other functions with apps or via certain settings - but the safest filter is still the "filter in your head". Yourchild should therefore know the rules of the game on the Internet and have practiced them together with you.

 To help your child better understand what he or she should be aware of when using the smartphone, you can agree clear rules and arrangements with your child at in amedia contract

The checklist can give you a rough guide. Check off what your child is already able to do when using a cell phone. If you have ticked off a clear majority of the items, you can consider providing your child with a smartphone. The prerequisite is that you discuss the outstanding points with your child and make him or her aware of the risks.

Is my child "smartphone addicted"?

Many parents are uncertain about how long their child should spend with the smartphone in their free time or are afraid that a real "addiction" will develop and that the child will no longer be able to live without a cell phone.  But detached from questions about addiction or dependency, there are moments in life when the permanent look at the cell phone is disturbing and inappropriate.

For children and young people, it is fascinating and exciting to be connected to their circle of friends at all times and to receive the latest information. But children also need guidance to learn how to use it appropriately. Cell phone-free times are important to consciously withdraw from the "always-on mode," the constant accessibility that the smartphone brings with it, and to spend a few moments completely in the here and now. This can be, for example, when eating together, going on excursions together, doing activities with friends or doing homework. For older children, the cell phone canat least be switched to airplane mode after a certain time; messages or status updates are then no longer displayed.

The checklist "Is my child at risk of possible addiction?" can help with an initial assessment of whether your child has any characteristics of a possible addiction risk with regard to digital media.