What’s the best age to give a kid an iPod touch?

This is a question I get asked a lot, and to be honest, I don’t think there’s an easy answer. Every kid is different and every family has different thoughts and experiences. It’s a good question and it’s worth discussing with your partner before making the leap. Here are a few things to think about before plunking down your credit card:

1) Consider the age of the child, keeping in mind that age does not necessarily equate to maturity.

I personally think most kids under the age of 10 are not responsible enough to own an iPod touch. The fact that it’s an expensive item that can easily end up in the washing machine is one thing, but iPod ownership also opens up a can of worms in terms of unsupervised web surfing, and most kids really aren’t ready for it.

Consider what gadgets you already have in the house and use this as a bargaining chip. For example, a family iPad or tablet might delay the purchase for a while and be the ideal “trial run” for a young user. This can help you can assess whether your child is mature enough to handle their own device.

2) Don’t dismiss alternate gift ideas

Isn’t it a good idea to keep kids playing with toys for as long they can? They’re going to spend the rest of their lives glued to one screen or another, so why rush it?  I think a lot of parents - not to mention grandparents - default to iPods as gifts because they aren’t aware of all the other great games and toys that are out there for kids today. There are so many wonderful things you can give kids that don’t fall into the high-tech category: skateboards, swings, books, bikes, sports gear, wagons, scooters games, puzzles. The list of “stuff” you can buy for kids is endless. I believe that giving a child an experience makes for longer-lasting memories: art lessons, soccer camp, a dozen movie passes, a holiday. Again, endless ideas! Ask yourself: if I give my child an iPod this year, what will she expect for her birthday next year?

3) Talk about the rules and set some limits right off the bat.

It’s easier to lay down the law at the outset and make sure everyone is on the same page regarding usage. Some good rules to consider:

  • Putting clear limits on usage. One of the rules is our house is that no one (parents included!) is allowed to bring the device to the table while everyone is eating. My kids also have to put their devices away an hour before bedtime. They’re always supposed to be charging downstairs while they’re getting ready for bed. Doing one thing at a time is a big deal in our house. For example, no walking down the stairs while texting, no surfing the Internet while brushing your teeth. This rule is not just out of concern for their safety, I worry about the development of multi-tasking brains and how it erodes focus.

    Some parents only let their kids use their devices for a certain amount of time every day, and some tie them to chores. I also think it’s important to talk about the times that iPod usage may be inappropriate. This is a tough one for kids to figure out on their own, and they really need guidance as each scenario comes up. For example, there’s another family at our place for a BBQ. Q: Where are the devices? Answer: they are put away, and not to be used when other people are visiting (at least at our house). Kids need to work on their conversation and socialization skills, and this is where it’s done.
      
  • Then there’s the whole social media thing: texting, Twitter, Snapchat. If your child has an iPod, the desire to socialize online with friends will certainly follow. Stay one step ahead of the kids and educate yourself, and remember, it’s okay to tell your kid you need some time to think about it before saying yes or no.

If you DO buy an iPod for your child, make sure that you have the “find my iPod” app installed. (It might save everyone some stress if it ever gets misplaced.) Turn off geo-location services used by other apps and install the free Disconnect Kids app to block mobile tracking.  It’s also a good idea to oversee the downloading of apps and music, this can be done relatively easily if all family members use the same Apple ID. It’s a good idea to have your child’s password too. (You can read a past post about that right here.)  

Any other tips to share about introducing younger tweens to iPods and iPhones? I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Comments

Well, I have a daughter that

Well, I have a daughter that is extremely mature, as in eleven-going-on- 17!she is literally begging me for an iPod touch, and all her friends at school have them too. We have an iPad between us and she is very responsible with it and takes very good care of it. I looked into it, and I’m still deciding what to do, but this really helped, thanks!

I am a 12 year old who is

I am a 12 year old who is very responsible but I am not allowed to have any electronics. It’s not because of money because I am willing to pay for it. I have all A’s. Should I be able to get an Ipod touch?

Hi Madison – getting an

Hi Madison – getting an expensive and internet-connected piece of technology is a discussion you should have with your parents. If you’d like to share this article with them, that might help you have a positive talk with them.

i am a 11 year old and my

i am a 11 year old and my grandparents won’t let me have a ipod because of internet reasons but they wont even give it a try but i promised them that i would keep it down stairs but to me there is no point of getting a ipod if you have to keep it down stairs i don’t know what to do i saw a ipod for 100$ on esty but if they don’t let me get it a will probably be the only kid in my class without a hand held divice

Hi Bella, there are good

Hi Bella, there are good reasons for leaving your portable devices downstairs at night. It’s very easy to lose track of time when you’re watching videos or checking your social networks.

If your grandparents don’t see the value of your having a portable device, you can introduce them to the social networks that you use and show them how they can use those to share parts of your life they don’t usually get to see. You can also show them some of the youth and parent tipsheets on our site (http://mediasmarts.ca/teacher-resources/find-lesson?field_grade_value_i18n=All&type%5B%5D=tip_sheet) to help them understand how things work and to show that you’re going to use the device safely and responsibly.

But don’t get an iPod without telling them: if anything goes wrong, you might be too worried about them being mad to ask them for help.

Hi, I’m 11 years old, and I

Hi, I’m 11 years old, and I also get straight A’s. I don’t have an iPod either, but also really want one. I think you should definitely have one for safety reasons, and for other social reasons.

Hello, I am 11 years old and

Hello, I am 11 years old and I am almost 12 and i have begged my parents for an iPod, but my parents aren’t fully convinced I honestly think I deserve one because I get strait A’s and I am mature and responsible plus I don’t want to be the only one in school without a device, but they say no because they don’t want to me be wearing glasses or contact but I tell them I won’t use it all the time and if they think I dot i’ll let them take away my charger for a day, but they aren’t that convince as well that I am willing to pay for it with my money. Do you think i should be able to have an iPod?

i am 13 and i finally get an

i am 13 and i finally get an i pod touch it is pink and i am so happy i think if u want a i pod u should ask ur mom first and then ur dad … try places like amozon because it is cheaper tho … i hope this helped some how if people had questions c:

Hi there I am 11 years old

Hi there I am 11 years old nearly 12 and would like an I pod. I asked my mother last night but I Don’t think they are fully convinced. I am willing to pay with my own money and get straight a’s like most of the people who are commenting. What should I do?

I just turned 12 about a week

I just turned 12 about a week ago and I just decided that I want an iPod Touch for Christmas. My mom is undecided, and my dad is saying “NO WAY!!! PORNOGRAPHY!!” and my mom doesn’t want to argue with my dad. First of all, do you think I should have one? I have straight A’s, and my parents think I’m responsible enough. Secondly, how could I convince my parents (mostly my dad) to get me an iPod touch???

It’s natural for parents to

It’s natural for parents to be concerned about the kinds of content kids can access through a portable device. You can direct your parents to the resources on our Parents section, particularly our tipsheets Talking To Your Kids About Pornography (http://mediasmarts.ca/tipsheet/talking-your-kids-about-pornography-—-tip-sheet) and Family Online Rules (http://mediasmarts.ca/tipsheet/family-online-rules-tip-sheet) as well as our tutorial Raising Ethical Kids For a Networked World (http://mediasmarts.ca/tutorial/raising-ethical-kids-networked-world ) to make them feel more confident about laying down rules and guidance that you’ll follow.

Hi, I am thirteen years of

Hi, I am thirteen years of age. I have an ipod touch and it sucks. My mum lets me go on it and I am responsible, I never post innapporiate stuff and If I have a book, I read the book instead of looking at my ipod. My dad however, he drives me insane. The moment he gets home he takes it from me. I never get to go on it. I hate it. I bought the ipod with my own money and I am sick of my parents taking it away from me.. I even ran away once for about 2 days or so because my dad accused me for knowing the restrictions for my ipod but I didnt! HE GROUNDED ME FOR SOMETHING HE ASSUMED.

Parents are often worried

Parents are often worried about letting kids use mobile devices because it’s hard for them to keep an eye on what you’re doing. You can try showing your parents some of the positive and creative things you do with your iPod to help them understand that you’re using it responsibly, and download our guide Your Connected Life (http://mediasmarts.ca/teacher-resources/your-connected-life-teen’s-guide-life-online) to show them so that they’re confident you know everything you need to make good decisions when you’re online. 

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