Let’s face it…it’s a different world than the one we grew up in. Remember when you thought life couldn’t get any better after the cordless phone came along? Ah, what freedom! Finally we could move about without being tethered to a wall. Plus it was fun to test your phone’s range by seeing just how far you could get down your driveway before it went dead. How could you not love the eighties?
The Pros and Cons of Technology
Today, technology is improving and advancing at warp speed, making it very difficult for parents to keep up. Which brings up the highly debatable question of: when should you get your child a smart phone of their very own? For that answer, we must turn to the expert…You. There is no one better equipped to determine when you should grant your child this privilege. But make no mistake-having a smart phone is a privilege not a necessity. Yes, it does make it easier for you to monitor your child’s safety and whereabouts but you can also keep your child safe without one. Phones are also great for keeping kids entertained. And for some parents, these intermittent moments of peace are well worth the hefty cost for the latest in technology.
While every parent can appreciate the safety and entertainment features of a smart phone, we can’t overlook the potential risks. Smart phones are essentially mini computers that give kids access to all that the internet has to offer: good and bad. Monitoring their activity can be a challenge and getting them to put down the phone can take an act of congress. The Center on Media and Child Health identifies some additional concerns that parents should take into account including; kids developing addictive behaviors, sharing inappropriate content, accruing data charges, losing or breaking the phone, and disconnection from family relationships.
If you are considering a smart phone, the three biggest questions you need to answer before making your decision are:
- Has your child demonstrated responsible use of the internet on your home computer and respected your rules of usage? This is critical because your child will essentially be walking around with a mini computer. You need to be certain that he or she will follow the same rules for privacy, content, and sharing of information/photos.
- Can you afford it? The simple fact is your child does not need a smart phone. These phones are not cheap and most kids don’t really understand roaming and text overage charges. Not to mention that kids drop and lose things on a daily basis. Be certain it’s within your budget and refrain from doing it out of guilt and pressure. There is always the option of getting your child a basic phone that only makes calls. This way you can have a trial run and give them the opportunity to demonstrate that they are responsible and ready for something with more capabilities.
- What is YOUR need? This is not about making life easier for them. They have it pretty good already. Getting your child a smart phone should be about making life easier for you. If it brings you a sense of peace and security to know that you can reach your child by text, phone call, or receive a photo of them as “proof of life”, then pull the trigger. All the other apps and features are bonuses and kids should be instructed how to use them wisely. More importantly, parental control need to be set on the phone for the same reasons that kids need house rules.
Remember, age is not really the issue. It’s about responsibility, cost, and need. As a parent coach, I help parents strengthen their leadership and decision-making abilities by reminding them that they are the “expert” when it comes to what’s best for their family. Don’t let the other parents at soccer practice make you feel bad if you don’t think your child is ready for this kind of responsibility. This is your call to make.
“How Do Cell Phones Negatively Effective the Health of Teens” by Kristen Berry retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/1005653-cell-phones-negatively-affect-health-teens/
“Are You Addicted To Your Cell Phone?” by Ira Hyman PhD at Psychology Today retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-mishaps/201303/are-you-addicted-your-cell-phone
“Cell Phones”, Center on Media and Child Heath retrieved from http://www.education.com/reference/article/cell-phones/