Our Kids and Phones – When Is It Too Early?

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I don’t know how many times I have flipped through Tiktok and wasted more time than I’d like to admit.  I can admit, though, that I have done it, and not just once or twice. It is very unsettling to think that if an adult can get sucked in (you do too, don’t you?), it’s going to be that much more difficult for our children to disconnect from social media and phones.  

My niece has had a phone for several years.  She’s 14 now, and I can’t begin to count how many instances that she has had young women send her threatening messages on Snapchat. They use that app because anything that is sent disappears immediately after watching it. These girls are brutal, too. The things they say and threats they make would’ve scared the heck out of me when I was her age. Even though her phone is a direct connection between her and these awful girls, she would rather die than give it up.

My son is 11. This year, he was given my old cell phone so he could play games on it.  It has no phone line, but he is able to text and call his friends via certain apps when he is connected to WiFi.  Partly, this has been helpful for us, as it helps us to keep in contact with him when he is at his friends’ houses. He also texts when he gets off of the bus if my husband and I are away at the time. 

He is now asking for a real phone. He wants to be able to call whenever he wants, and he also wants to be able to open social media accounts. Currently, he uses my Snapchat account on the phone he has, but something in my mind has a very difficult time thinking about all of the possibilities, good and bad, that come with having a phone of his own.  

I didn’t have a phone of my own until I bought one after I turned 20. I grew up in the age of the Nokia phone – the one that you could put on different faces to make it look fancy. There was one girl in my class in high school that had one; she got it because her mom was the manager of a cell service office. I was always so jealous of that phone.  But it was so much less than what phones are today. Endless apps, endless internet, and so much texting. As a parent, I know there is so much that can be hidden in a phone merely by deleting it, so when do we decide that our children can be responsible with that kind of privacy?

My son loves playing games on the phone he has. We have had to take it away from him quite a few times for reasons like he didn’t clean his bedroom, he was dishonest, or his grades suffered. But wouldn’t it be irresponsible of us to present something so irresistible into his life and expect nothing to change?  

There comes an age when it’s almost anticipated that our children are expected to hide things from us. They start talking romantically to girls/boys, and they don’t want us to see. But what is the age when we start to allow them to have that privacy?

I’d love to hear what your thoughts on this are! At what age did you give your child a phone?  Do you know the password? Please answer in the comment section below!

1 COMMENT

  1. We got gabb watches for our kids. They’re great. You can call them and text them. They have some texts that they can send. And you can pull up their GPS. It’s perfect!

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