Tuesday, September 25, 2018

When is the right time to get your CHILD a Phone?

The Headlines:


We finally gave our daughter a phone. 

Here's WHY we did. 


And why we DIDN'T... for such a long time.




Let's get one thing straight right off the bat.   The answer to the title question above is:  NEVER.  There is never a RIGHT time to get your child a phone.  But the fact is... they're going to have one sooner or later.

For a long time we opted for "later..." until we decided we could no longer hold out.


These days, lots of parents give their kids phones early.  There are some pretty valid reasons to do that...   divorce, parents working, busy children's schedules.  I wouldn't argue with any of them.  Each family is different.

But at our house... none of those reasons were good enough reasons to get our girl a phone.  Why?  Many many things... but here are the TOP 3 reasons our child didn't get a phone:

1- EASIER 
Mainly, I didn't want to face the undeniable responsibility that comes when your child holds their own phone.  Last year, there was someone texting people at school posing as other students.  My daughter's name was in the mix but I didn't care much.  Why?  Cause she didn't have a phone.  She wasn't really involved.  The other mother was about to call 911.  I didn't have to... and I loved that.  It was much easier.   For me.

2 - Kids grow up fast when they get a phone
Information is so readily available, too readily available when they have it at their fingertips.  It is incredibly handy but not always healthy.

3 - We want our daughter to learn the art of speaking
Before she succumbs to texting her entire life away she needs to learn how to talk to people.    Because here's the problem, communicating face to face is going to become a lost "art form" I guarantee you.   We, as a society, are doing it less and less.  We're texting, twitting, insta-talking so much we're forgetting how to talk with each other.  Huge, vast, ginormous problem.  I can't even think about how bad it's going to get for our kids as they grow up.


But, after those 3 big reasons and about 1,000 others we chose to ignore... we decided it was time to jump right in to the biggest foreseen firestorm facing parents today.   We're all gonna get burned at one point.  But... we did it anyway.  Our 7th grade daughter got her phone.  She was ecstatic.

Here's why we took the plunge.

TOP 3 reasons she got a phone... (which just so happen to be the exact same reasons we were holding out):

1 - We want our daughter to learn the art of speaking (via phone)
Like it or not, this is the future.  If she doesn't get on board soon... she may miss the boat a bit.  I believe it's good for kids to stand out but not necessarily stick out - if you know what I mean.  She needs to correctly learn how to communicate the way everyone else is in the the entire world.  If she can't... she'll not only be the only one not invited places but she may not get a job that requires her to have certain "media skills," if you will.   Learning these skills responsibly is imperative.

2 - Kids grow up fast when they get a phone
Having a phone will test her.  In many, many ways.  It will test her self control, time management, ability to follow rules... it will test her social kindness, the list goes on and on.  I'm kind of excited to see what she does with it... who she will become?  I hope she makes some right decisions.  I know there will be wrong ones.  One thing's for sure... she will mature more.  That's both good and bad of course.  But at least it will be under our watch.  We'll just have to be very aware of what's going on, who she's talking to, what she's looking at and reading.  ALL THE TIME.

3 - Easier
Yes, with this new capability... life will be much easier... for me.  Truthfully, it came down to this... I needed her to have a phone for my sanity.  Communicating with her is much less complicated now.  I am able to talk to her whenever I want, which makes my life better.  And probably hers too...

So, how are we handling this new found responsibility of a child with a phone?  It started with a simple "contract."  I'm pretty sure most parents do this now.  They write something up.  Their child signs it.  If they don't follow it - phone is GONE.   Good plan.  Here's what we made up:


New Phone Contract 

*No phone usage after 9:00pm

No social media posts until agreed upon by Mom & dad

Any social media apps must be approved by M/D

All passwords are to be shared with M/D

All homework must be done before any phone time (unless necessary & allowed by M/D)

M/D can look at phone at any time

DO NOT erase any texts under any circumstances

*Show M/D any questionable texts/pictures/posts right away

Phone can be taken away by M/D at any time to be monitored  

No D or F grades on any tests

Absolutely NO grade below B- on a progress report/report card

Any violation minimum 1 week without phone(unless otherwise specified by M/D)

Phone plan to be partially paid for by phone holder ($10 per month)

-She signs and dates it and then there's this little addition:

* friends may have to abide by starred line items


That's right.  My house.  My rules.  Especially when it comes to the phone.  Here's the thing.  I've discovered getting rid of the phones can, at times, take pressure off kids.  And give kids, well, a chance to BE kids!

A few months ago my daughter had a new friend over.  And each time she was with her, my daughter didn't have a phone (the friend did).  Turns out that girl went home and told her Mom she really liked hanging out with my daughter.  "It's nice..." she said,  "we're not always on our phones!"  Wow.  Really?  After all this, maybe the most important point to remember is that the phone can be a part of their life... it just can't be their whole life!!!

If it is... there's a big problem.  A problem that will just get bigger the longer it goes un-checked.

Will we regret giving her a phone?  Probably.  But it had to be done.  She's already gotten it taken away.  Twice.  Plus, I got an alert yesterday...



Recognize that puppy?  Yea, and we still have over a week to go until the end of the month.  My daughter just kindly informed me on the way to school yesterday that I should just get an unlimited plan "like all her other friends parents..." of course I heard that, snickered then chuckled a bit.

Yes, it may already be time to add another line to that Phone Contract.



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