Smart phones. Nearly every woman, man, teenager, child, and dog has one. Okay, maybe not the dog, but you get my point. Smartphones are everywhere and used everyday. Mine recently took a “vacation” to my brother’s house two hours away. Whoops! I panicked! How were people going to get a hold of me?! I did survive, though, and it made me realize how much I depend on a smartphone.
So it didn’t surprise me that the number one thing on my daughter’s birthday list was a smartphone for the 6th consecutive year in a row. She is the last teenager in America to get one, by her own observations, I guess. We decided that she was finally old enough, responsible enough, and ready to navigate the risks, so we got her her first smartphone at age 14. It wasn’t an easy choice to make, but here is how we made our decision.
My husband, Jeremy, and I have been denying Aubree, our oldest daughter, a smartphone for years. We had several reasons for postponing getting her the coveted smartphone when all her friends were getting them. She actually had a good attitude about it. Whenever Aubree would ask, and we said no again, she never argued or cried. She has been the best trial child! (“Trial Child” definition: your first child that you try all your cool parenting skills on!)
But even though her attitude was positive and we wanted to make her happy, there are some reasons we waited on getting our daughter a smartphone.
3 Reasons We Waited to Get Our Child a Smartphone
I don’t know if some of you have researched how much it costs to buy a smartphone but we think it is CRAZY RIDICULOUS the amount of money they want for some of these devices. What if it breaks?! There’s no way we could replace it. That is a lot of money to pay for something a child has to take care of.
Before we would agree to a smartphone, she had to show us she would be able to take care of it. She had an ipod for several years and we watched how she treated it. She always took care of it extremely well. By taking care of the things she already had, she was able to demonstrate her ability to be responsible. (Ironic side note: Two days before Jeremy and I gave Aubree her smartphone, she dropped her ipod and cracked the screen. She cried for hours; she felt that terrible about it.)
There are so many dangerous apps out there that are not good for kids/teens. Snapchat is one she is definitely not allowed to have. (Did you know that apps have recommended age guidelines? Snapchat is 18.) Too many times I have heard of inappropriate things happening on this app. There is also an app that will hide apps you don’t want others to know you have.
Smartphones can be used as tools to harm other people. There are true stories of children being groomed for abduction through social media sites. This is one of the reasons we take great steps in monitoring what our daughter is using her phone for.
Some Safety Precautions
There are many ways to monitor kids’ media usage, and we knew we needed to take some safety precautions with our daughter. Before Jeremy and I gave Aubree her smartphone, we decided she would not have internet on it unless it was connected to our wifi here at home. I have everything password protected and all kinds of things blocked. Jeremy and I know all her passwords and have told her we can take the phone whenever to check it. She only gets the phone for a limited time during the day. We also printed off this teenage cell phone contract and made her sign it.
I feel like I’m a warden saying all this, when in truth she takes on the responsibility and leaves the phone on the counter without Jeremy or I ever having to remind her. We like the fact that we are giving her more responsibility and now she can get a hold of us if she ever needs to. It’s a big plus for a teen with babysitting jobs!
America is constantly changing. We just want to make sure we protect our daughter anyway we can. We also realize that she is a teenager and needs to have a little fun, so we try to balance fun with work and responsibilities. Like all parents, we love our child and just want to keep her safe.
Waiting Until 8th
There is a movement that is gaining popularity as more and more parents are being told, “Everyone has a smart phone but me!” Many parents around the country are making the conscious choice to hold off on getting their kids smartphones until they are in 8th grade, and some are waiting even longer. Check out the Wait Until 8th website for more information. I signed it for 3 of my kids…will you?
Let’s keep our kids safe. Not only from predators, but from things that are harming their health, minds, and bodies. Limit cell phone time. Be intentional when talking to them. Make them feel important and loved. Put your own cell phone away. Kids are growing up fast. Let’s be a good example and show them that life doesn’t revolve around our smart phones.