When does a child need a phone? Children do not need phones. Sometime we needlessly toil over parenting issues and the phone question may be one of those issues in your home. Your child is begging for it, he has a birthday coming up, all of his friends have one and you and he both assume that he has a ‘right’ to one… even though he is only in the 4th grade. This “When to get the phone?” question is a big question for many moms and I am still working through some of the pieces to this phone puzzle myself. But after 21 years of parenting some things are becoming crystal clear to me. Children don’t need phones. You may think your teen needs a phone, but a flip phone (non data) will work just fine and serve the purpose; they really don’t NEED a smart phone. While I don’t have all the answers I do have a few points to ponder and a few questions for you to ask yourself before you add that new account to your phone plan.
1. Trust your common sense. No school age child needs a phone (they don’t need to call you by your first name or drink coffee either…just sayin… 🙂 )
2. Don’t let culture guide you.
3. Is your child responsible? Let me add to this question:
- Does he/she make up her bed every morning independently?
- Does he/she make his own lunch every day for school?
- Does he/she brush her teeth consistently without being told?
- Does he/she consistently do homework on his own? Are you still checking it over?
- Does he/she take pride in keeping her room in order? Not perfect but organized?
- Can he/she easily find his shoes, homework and library book on school days?
- Do they feed the animals without being reminded every day?
- Does he/she treat others with respect and does not gossip or put others down?
- Does he/she fully and responsibility understand the ‘birds and the bees,’ sexually transmitted diseases, social media laws and porn issues?
- If he/she has a phone already are you charging it at night? Have they ever lost it? More than once?
Use your common sense here Mom, don’t let culture guide you. If you are still reminding your child to brush his teeth they are too young for a cell phone. If she is sassy and talks back she is too young for a phone. A child should have developed levels of responsibility in other areas of their life before they are handed a phone. Use your common sense. Many parents hand over these mini pocket computers to their kids not realizing the full potential of short and long term damage they can bring to your child. It is a ticking time bomb in many cases exposing them to things way out of their emotional reach. Chances are they are not old enough to manage it on their own so don’t put that burden on their little shoulders yet. The time will quickly come when they are driving or have a job when you can help them make good cell phone decisions, but for now let them enjoy a phone free life while they are building a rich childhood foundation and growing responsible character qualities in their lives.
Dare to be culturally different and rethink the real purpose of the cell phone being part of your child’s life. It is just fine to go against the crowd on this one. Phones can cause a lot of problems in child’s life; they are a big responsibility and they are stressful. Do some research, look at the outline that Dawn Poulterer gave our moms group recently. Trust your Mom instincts and be confident that you have their best interest at heart. Then imagine the freedom your child will experience when they can truly enjoy being a child ... put the phone on hold and save it for later!