“Not long ago, many parents wondered at what age they should give their child full access to the car keys. Nowadays, parents face a trickier question: At what age should a child own a smartphone? The smartphone, after all, is the key to unfettered access to the internet and the many benefits and dangers that come with it.” B. Chen, The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: What’s the Right Age for a Child to Get a Smartphone? By Brian X Chen, The New York Times
“But unlike driving a car, which is legal in some states starting at the age of 16, there is no legal guideline for a parent to determine when a child may be ready for a smartphone.
The topic is being increasingly debated as children get smartphones at an ever younger age. On average, children are getting their first smartphones around age 10, according to the research firm Influence Central, down from age 12 in 2012. For some children, smartphone ownership starts even sooner — including second graders as young as 7, according to internet safety experts.
I think that age is going to trend even younger, because parents are getting tired of handing their smartphones to their kids, said Stacy DeBroff, chief executive of Influence Central.
The downward age creep is meeting resistance. James P. Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that reviews content and products for families, has a strict rule for his family: His children get a smartphone only when they start high school — after they have learned restraint and the value of face-to-face communication.
So how do you determine the right time? To come up with some guidelines, I interviewed internet safety experts and combed through studies on smartphone use among children. The takeaway will not please smartphone makers: The longer you wait to give your children a smartphone, the better.”
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer
Directions: Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- I think that age is going to trend even younger.
- How do you determine the right time?
- I interviewed internet safety experts.
- Parents have advice on regulating smartphone use.
- There is no legal guideline.
- The downward age creep is meeting resistance.
- Children must learn restraint.
- Smartphones can be addictive.
- They also are one step closer to distracting games.
- Smartphones undoubtedly bring benefits.
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following paragraphs taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.
“In the end, such ___may ___the pros, Ms. Weinberger said. If you hold off___ smartphones to___, many still have ___to technology ___through devices like ___and ___ she added. The main difference with a___is that it is with a___ everywhere, including outside of___ supervision.”
WORD LIST: outweigh, parental, computers, access, tools, tablets, child, children, smartphone, giving, cons,
Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
Smartphones undoubtedly bring benefits.
But they also is one step closer to distracting games.
Even older children are not immune.
In the end con may outweigh the pros.
parents will determine when their child truly needs a smartphone.
She felt the device would make him a target for muggers.
Parents can set limits.
Some limits is no smartphones at the dinner table or in class.
There are some phone settings that can help keep children safe.
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following statements taken from the article. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following topics.
- “No two kids are the same, and there’s no magic number…A kid’s age is not as important as his or her own responsibility or maturity level.”
- “In a separate study published this year, Common Sense Media polled 1,240 parents and children and found 50 percent of the children admitted that they were addicted to their smartphones. It also found that 66 percent of parents felt their children used mobile devices too much, and 52 percent of children agreed.”
- At what age do you think children should be allowed to use smartphones? Provide reasons for your answer.
- At what age did you begin using a smartphone?
Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.