At what age have you, should you or will you introduce your child to the world of smartphones?
I put this question out there on social media and the most interesting thing I found with the many responses was, only one person said ‘When you feel your child is mature enough to be responsible with one’, which was the way we made our decision.
Our girls are 11 and 12 and are at high school, they both have an iPhone with a contract. We decided we would judge them based on their maturity and attitude towards technology and social media, rather than what number they are. With their contracts we have peace of mind that they will never run out of credit thus will always be able to contact us should they need to. They spend time away with their Dad and sometimes go on holiday and it’s nice to know they can contact us on a personal basis rather than having to borrow their Dads phone etc. Their school is very forward thinking and they use tech devices a lot, phones on field trips, tablets and Chromebooks, so tech is a massive part of their education also.
Your first thoughts when I say they have contracts is ‘What if they run up huge bills’, well they’ll only do it once!! It’s the same as the possibility of cyber bullying, if there was ever any suspicious activity coming from either of them then the luxury of having a phone would disappear. On the flip side, do I worry about them receiving dodgy messages from strangers or them being bullied online, no I don’t. You see we live in a world where the majority of people like to blame ‘things’ rather than people. For example, ‘It’s those games they play that make them grow up and stab people’, ‘It’s Facebook that causes fall outs’, are you crazy?! It’s people that cause all of this, not technology. If you play a game then go stab someone, that’s because you’re a moron that needs locking up. If you’re caught having an affair or slagging someone off on Facebook and it blows up in your face, that’s not Facebooks fault, again it’s because quite frankly, you’re a dick. So again, we’ve decided to judge our children’s maturity and who better to judge them than the people that are guiding them. We teach them exactly what to look for and how to handle themselves online to stay safe. If you knew Abi then you’d know, she ain’t keeping any secrets, she’d explode! Kiera on the other hand would shrug off any nonsense whether that be online or not, so no I’m not worried because they’re prepared and educated.
Sure there will be bumps along the way, that’s parenting. I think the mindsets of people may need altering slightly when it comes to tech. We know how we grew up and there wasn’t much tech at all, mainly a football and wrestling figures for me. We are the first generation of parents that are having to gauge these major advances in technology, we’re the first parents making decisions blindly, we don’t have a similar childhood experience to look back on to use in our own parenting.
The way I like to parent is that I’m willing, within reason, to let the kids be their own person, let them make decisions for themselves. Kids are constantly told what to do, how to do it, when to do it, where to do it and this continues throughout the education system. So from my point of view why not let them have a little freedom to express themselves with an online persona, would we have liked that opportunity, I would. Of course as parents we still have the responsibility to monitor our children, they both know that we are to have details of any passwords or passcodes. I believe the key is to monitor, not control.
It’s all trial and error, there is no right answer to this question, however when your little one asks ‘Can I have a phone’, just try to respond to them, not their number.
Let me know what you think… As always, thanks for reading and see you online @dadvworld