My oldest is eleven years old. She is at the age where she is starting to ask me to hand over MY phone so she can use it. Those filters on snapchat are just too much fun when you’re a tween.
I make sure she understands on the regular that this is MY phone, not hers. And, I let any friend that might try to text my phone that my phone is not her phone either. They can call her thank you very much.
She hasn’t asked for her own smart phone yet (thank goodness). We just recently started experimenting with leaving her home alone for short bursts. In order to do that, we got a 3rd line added to our plan, and activated an old iPhone with no games or apps on it so we could have a land line. She knows this is not her phone either. She has been allowed to take it with her somewhere exactly one time.
Yet, she’s already asked me to add snapchat to it.
I just don’t understand why we need to hand our kids smartphones so early?
Sure, a flip phone or old classic cell phone I understand for some families are necessary. Kids whose parents work, need this way to connect, and get in touch. Or, kids who walk home to an empty house after school probably need a phone of some sort too. But, a smart phone at ten, eleven or even twelve? Sorry, not my kid.
HERE ARE A FEW REASONS WHY MY KIDS DON’T NEED A SMART PHONE ANYTIME SOON (AND YOURS PROBABLY DON’T EITHER):
IT’S JUST NOT NECESSARY.
I’ve seen these discussions on social media many times before. Parents want to stay in touch. They want a GPS tracker. They want to FaceTime while they’re away. Wouldn’t texting and calling be sufficient though? Sure, is it fun to see my sweet cherub’s face when I’m gone? Yes. But, is it vital? Not really. You can still tell a lot from a phone call and a text message. I just don’t see the point in giving any kid under 14 a phone. Guess what, according to the New York Times, lots of CEOs and technology executives probably have stricter rules than the average parent about smartphones and other devices than your own kids or your neighbor’s. We just REALLY don’t need to be in a hurry.
THEY CAN BARELY FIND THEIR SHOES, SO I’M NOT GOING TO HAND THEM AN EXPENSIVE EASILY BREAKABLE DEVICE THAT COSTS HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS.
I wasn’t even allowed to drive my parents mini van at 16 unless I got a job and paid for the insurance. So, no my kids are not getting a smart phone until they can get a job and help pay for it.
THEY DON’T NEED ANOTHER FREAKING DISTRACTION.
My kids are like, “Squirrel!!” pretty much when they are faced with any task they need to do. I ask them to go brush their teeth and they are in their room coloring a picture. I ask them to unload the dishwasher and suddenly, they find a toy they haven’t played with in 3 years under their bed that they must play with right this second. They don’t need a smart phone full of games, apps, and even more tempting things like YouTube distracting them from outside play, homework, and hanging out face to face with real friends.
I DON’T NEED SCHOOL DRAMA INSIDE MY HOUSE.
Right now, my daughter is in the middle of her delicate tween years. The girl drama started in Kindergarten, but the REAL girl drama revved up in 4th grade. The beauty of it now is that I can keep her home space free of friend drama. We can talk about things that happen at school without someone also snap chatting with her about it.
Sure, she’s got little brother drama, and the drama of not getting to slam her door in my face without a consequence, but I don’t need her friends causing drama in her life right in our own home. So what if she misses out on a few text messages about so and so saying such and such? I’m sure they can fill her in when she gets to school. Did you know that smart phones increase the risk of anxiety and depression too? Why do I want my 11 year old dealing with that? I don’t.
MY KIDS STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT’S APPROPRIATE TO ASK SIRI (OR THE INTERNET)
An innocent question can lead to disastrous consequences on the Internet. Why would I put such a dangerous tool into my kids’ hands? Protecting your kids online is already hard enough when EVERYTHING is online these days, but throwing a device at them full of questionable content that they can carry in their pocket seems irresponsible. We have had talk after talk after TALK about what to do if/when they search for something and see something questionable, or scary, or weird. Yet, they still try googling random stuff for entertainment if I don’t watch them like a hawk.
I DON’T WANT THEM ADDICTED SOCIAL MEDIA.
I feel a little hypocritical even adding this one, but it’s honestly a HUGE part of my reasoning. I am addicted to my smart phone. Most people are, I’m afraid. I have to physically turn it on silent or put it in another room so I’m not looking at it constantly. I don’t want that for my kids. My hope is that if I delay smartphone usage now, then they’ll be better off in the future. No, smartphones aren’t going anywhere, but do they have to have them right now? Can’t we wait a little longer? Let them be little? Protect them a little more?
And the evidence that innocent apps like Music.ly and Instagram are damaging our kids and taking away their innocence is apparent to me by articles like this one.
So, at what age is it appropriate to get your kid a smart phone? Honestly, I feel like I’ll know that when I get there. I like the Wait Until 8th pledge a lot of parents are taking. It gives me hope that my kid won’t be the ONLY kid in 7th grade without a smart phone. A boring old flip phone, sure we might get one of those in a couple of years. But a smart phone? No thanks. We’ll hold off as long as humanly possible.
If your kids complain about not being able to take pictures with their friends and send them, think about a fun camera like this one for your tween.
And, if they need one for after school activities, go for a phone like this. Or better yet, get them a watch that can make limited calls like these.
My point is, there are options, and parents need to agree to stop the madness of giving 10 year old’s smart phones too soon. It’s never too late to change your mind, either.
This post originally appeared on Perfection Pending.
Read more from Meredith Ethington here on her Facebook page Perfection Pending. Meredith Ethington is a writer and a mom to three, trying to help her kids understand sarcasm and her need for personal space. Meredith’s debut parenting book, Mom Life: Perfection Pending, provides an uplifting yet realistic look at all that is expected of moms in the 21st century.