Are you considering getting your child a cell phone? Before you do, these questions can help you decide if now is the right time:
It’s no question that we live in a social media, smartphone, technological advanced world. The truth is this… our kids will be exposed to this media in one way or another.
As any mom will tell you, we want to keep our kids safe.
At the same time, also afford them the necessary coping skills in order to survive this overly stimulated media world.
It’s so very easy to get overwhelmed.
Yes, I’m telling you that our kids need to learn life skills associated with smartphones and social media use to survive.
Does that mean I need to get them a cell phone?
Let’s ask some valid questions before you get your kids a cell phone… just because our kids want one.
First of all, I’m not under the pressure that I should get my kids something just because they want it. This is true… no matter what they are asking for.
My kids know that just because their friend has something, that doesn’t mean that their parents are going to get it for them.
It’s a fact of life.
Secondly, my job to protect my children outweighs their begging/pleading/bargaining plots to get something they aren’t ready for.
So, how do I know when my kids are ready for a cell phone?
Kids (toddlers through elementary school) will learn everything from life management, social, survival, and hygiene skills PLUS MORE!
Maybe these questions will help:
Q: Why do I think they need a cell phone?
Are there times in day-to-day life you catch yourself saying, “I wish my child had a cell phone right now.”
If not, then drop the whole thing now.
Some circumstances may cause you to think this.
- walking home from school alone
- spending lots of time away from you
- staying home alone with no other line of communication
- to talk with their friends
- staying with
- to keep them occupied or entertained
- for use in school such as research of educational apps
- to help improve their organizational skills
So, whatever your reason is, nailing down a good “why” is always a good idea.
Q: What are they going to use it for?
Make a list. What is your child going to use their cell phone for? This can help you decide if it’s time to get one.
Is this a tool going to be used for good? Or, is this an entertainment/communicative device with the goal of some babysitting.
I recommend making a list of the things your child is going to do with their new phone. Then, looking critically at it.
Is what I want them to use it for constitute the risks involved in cell phone use among children?
Statistics don’t lie.
According to 2022 surveys…
- 1 in 5 children has a phone by age 8.
- 53 % of kids have a smartphone by the age of 11.
- 84 % of teenagers have their own phones.
- 56 % of 11-16 year olds have seen explicit material online.
- Kids in families making $35,000 or less a year spend an average of 2 hours MORE a day than kids from families families making more than $100,000 a year.
- Tweens spend an average of 2.5 hours a day watching videos on their phones.
- Teens spend an average of 2 hours and 52 minutes a day watching videos on their phones.
- Girls report liking social media much more than boys do. Seven in 10 teen girls use social media every day.
- Social media is associated with anxiety, depression, cyberbullying and self-image issues.
- One in nine teens will receive online sexual solicitations.
- Video games are mostly associated with problematic overuse or addiction.
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Q: Will it contribute to pulling them away from family and INTO the cyber world?
Pulling a child away from their family and into the cyber world is a real threat. Just above I mentioned the dangers of social media associated with anxiety, depression, bullying, and long term self-image issues.
Not to mention the mind bending/manipulative virtual games that are designed by mastermind scientists to hook and addict your children.
Millions of dollars are spent on the virtual world each year- with the purpose of controlling what grown ups do with their time.
Kids are not equipped or mature enough to handle this extreme pressure.
On cell phones, your children will face…
- concepts that they aren’t mature enough to explain or understand
- images of perfection that they will want to imitate
- constant lines of communication to the virtual world
- values and morals that don’t line up with your core values
If there’s one major struggle this generation faces- it’s navigating the alleys of the internet in balance to the “real world.”
Is your child ready to engage in this type of warfare? Warfare for their mind, reality, and family time?
Are they mature enough to handle it? Or, are you ready to engulf them in it?
Q: Am I confident in their level of self control?
On a rare occasion, I come across a child who willingly sets their cell phone down.
Sadly, the opposite is much more realistic. Don’t believe me? Look around in any public place you are in, how many people are NOT on their phone?
Why? Because of FOMO, distraction, and desire to escape.
The generation before us doesn’t understand this concept because times were much simpler before social media and worldwide news at our fingertips.
FOMO or “Fear of Missing Out” is non-controllable. It’s the cell phone’s and digital era’s consumption policy.
It’s like this: With the online world, content is constantly changing in order to make you need to check it… all…the…time.
No matter how much “self control” a person has, they are no match for the science and technology that has been put into play on hooking and addicting minds.
Having enough self control is not the item in question.
Instead, it’s a matter of how much protection you want to place over your child.
Q: Am I giving in because of peer pressure?
This goes back to the reasons for or against getting a cell phone. Why do you want your child to have a cell phone? If you can honestly say it’s because…
- all of their friends have them,
- you want to give them the “cool apps” that other moms are talking about, or
- the school is allowing research on cell phones in class
Then, it may be that looking at the dangers vs. benefits is a good idea.
Q: Can I put it off another year?
If in your gut you’re saying, “my child is just a little young for this cell phone business.” Than, maybe asking to put it off another year is a good idea.
After all, there’s no certain age that people have to get a cell phone in order to be “technologically inclined” or shown responsibility.
By the way, those two things:
- I don’t want my child to struggle with technology.
- I want to show them trust and healthy responsibility.
Are the two main arguments for kids getting cell phones.
Do you think there are other ways to make sure kids are balanced in these areas? You betcha!
- Teach them how to type, code, or use different softwares.
- Give them age appropriate jobs that require responsibility and trust.
Maybe putting the cell phone off another year to focus on these type of skills would benefit them in the long run?
- pinpoint an issue
- draw out how it’s affecting you
- label what you don’t like about it
- determine areas of responsibility
- figure out how it’s showing up
- say what you’d rather happen
- brainstorm solutions
Q: Have I adequately equipping them with the life skills they need to handle it?
It’s not question that at some point, your child will get an electronic device that gives them communication to the outside world.
Whatever age that is for you, please note that opening the box and saying “here, ya go!” is not all it takes.
Be sure to teach them life skills that deal with:
- healthy viewing habits
- web surfing safety
- boundaries with their device and other people’s device
- types of communications to have and avoid
- healthy time restrictions
- tools to battle FOMO
- boundaries with videos, games, and people
Keep in mind that technologies are changing every minute. What safety measure worked yesterday may be void today.
As with any dangerous tool, cell phone use should be monitored regularly to ensure safety.
Check out Defend Young Minds for more help and support.