Let’s face it…it’s a different time and 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, finally some privacy! I can’t tell you how many times my mom found me sitting in the closet whispering about a whole lotta nothing.
Today, technology is improving and advancing at a speed that makes it very difficult for parents to keep up with. Which brings up the very debatable question of; when should you get your child a smart phone of their very own. Now I happen to think that you are the expert on your own child. 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. 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. The only thing they will suffer from is an exaggerated sense of embarrassment and entitlement. 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.
If you are considering a smart phone, the three biggest factors you want to assess for when 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 as you know, kids don’t really understand roaming and text overage charges. Not to mention that kids drop and lose things on a daily basis. Really make sure it is in your budget and refrain from doing it out of guilt and pressure.
- What is YOUR need? This is not about making life easier for them. They have it pretty good already. But getting them a smart phone should be about making it easier for you. If it brings you a sense of peace and security to know that you can reach your child by text, a phone call, receive a photo of them as “proof of life”, or note their exact location with GPS, then pull the trigger. All the other apps and features are bonuses and kids should be instructed how to use them wisely.
Remember, age is not really the issue. It’s about responsibility, cost, and need. Don’t let the moms at soccer practice make you feel bad if you don’t think the time is right. This is your call to make.