About two weeks ago I probably became Zoey’s least favorite parent. Boo hoo it happens right? Well what was it this time?
Where do I even begin…oh yes…her dad got her a cellphone! My 7 year old has a phone! A couple of days before it happened he called me to tell me that he was planning on training her on how to use a phone for the day he decided to get her one. I said sure that’s fine in case of an emergency that would be great. Well this was on a Thursday…come Sunday I get a phone call from an unknown number-Zoey’s number! I will be completely honest I was at brunch with family and a couple mimosas in so when she called I didn’t register what was going on and just said we would need to come up with some rules. A few hours later on our way home Marcos and I were trying to figure out what rules to have and could not come up with any.
Why? Because we did not want her to have a phone at the age of 7!
This whole situation led us to research the topic of children and phones. Our goal was to figure out what is a good age for a child to have a phone. Now I am not here to bash on parents who give their kids a phone at a young age, simply we just don’t feel she should have one.
Reasons Parents Might Give Their Kids Phones:
- Nowadays homes with landlines are very rare and it makes it harder to keep in touch when kids go over friends homes
- To let kids know who is picking them up from school
- Kids spent time with an adult without a phone or without an adult
- Parents feel their child is ready for a phone
- Parents who share custody or visitation want to feel more connected
What I Found:
- A survey conducted by Cricket Wireless found that 35% of parents gave their kids phones between the ages of 15-18. Out of that 35%, 45% thought a better age is between 14-15.
- A grad student studying the effect of phones on the brains of children found MRI research showed a shot of dopamine was sent to the brain when kids saw a like or comment on their social media. This shot of dopamine is what causes the addictive behavior between a child and their phone.
- The school systems in London have been conducting studies in hopes of coming up with bans and rules for cellphones on campus. The studies they have found show giving a child a phone is encouraging children to spend more time with machines than reality. So what does that mean for our kids? Well our kids are growing up unable to recognize social cues, facial expressions, and body language as well as those kids without machines or phones.
- Phones are easily lost/stolen/broken
So let’s say you have to get your little one a phone, we found some options for ya:
- Many parents buy their children phones with only voice & text
- Have your child check in the phone with you at night
- Set clear rules
- Let your child know you have the right to check it
- Set parental restrictions on the phone
- One of the most important things is to have an ongoing conversation about the dangers the internet has.
- Remind them they need to be safe about whatever they post on social media or text.
- Let your child know how dangerous and that they should not accept requests on social media from strangers
- Request access to all their passwords
- Be their friend on social media
- Remind them that colleges in the future could have access to their social media content
- Don’t forget to get them a sturdy case
Safe to say we will not be providing a phone for our children until high school. If the need should arise for one we will have to sit down and reassess the situation and the rules. It is such a scary world out there and to us handing her a phone is an open invitation. She does not yet know how to communicate well enough nor does she understand the responsibility of a phone. For now our rules have remained no phone in our home. Her every other weekend at her dads she has access to it and I am here trying to make sure I keep replying or I will be the jerk face mom who doesn’t text back her 7 year old. Oh the wonders of co-parenting.