The best age to give your child a smartphone, according to Bill Gates.

Bill Gates, investor, author and father of the modern computer industry, has identified what age he thinks children should be allowed to have a smartphone.

In an interview with The Mirror, the former Microsoft CEO said, “we didn’t give our kids cell phones until they were 14, and they complained other kids got them earlier.”

Gates and wife Melinda have three children, now 20, 17 and 14, and none of them were given a smartphone until they had entered high school.

Mia Freedman, Monique Bowley and Jessie Stephens discuss the perfect age to buy your child a smartphone on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below.

But once the children have phones, Gates sets strict limits on screen time.

“We don’t have cell phones at the table when we are having a meal,” he said.

“You’re always looking at how it can be used in a great way – homework and staying in touch with friends – and also where it has gotten to excess,” Gates added.

It would seem not even the man behind the modern computer can deny that technology shouldn’t be completely ubiquitous. There is, absolutely, a time to turn it off.

Image via Getty.

"We often set a time after which there is no screen time, and in their case that helps [the kids] get to sleep at a reasonable hour," Gates said.

The latest research suggests that the average child receives their first smart phone at 10.3 years old, and that by 12, 50 per cent have their own social media accounts.

James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, a non profit organisation dedicated to "helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology," says he employs the same rule at home.

Kids in the Steyer household must have to be in high school before they're given a phone, and must demonstrate a) restraint, and b) an understanding of the value of face to face communication.

 PBS Parents has offered a list of practical questions for parents to ask themselves before giving children their first smartphone. They include:

  • Do your children "need" to be in touch for safety reasons--or social ones?
  • Can they get behind the concept of limits for minutes talked and apps downloaded?
  • Can they be trusted not to text during class, disturb others with their conversations, and to use the text, photo, and video functions responsibly (and not to embarrass or harass others)?

It's probably worth noting as well, that you won't find an iPhone in Gates' house. There is a strict ban on all Apple products.


You can listen to the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud, here.