My 9-year-old is currently at that stage where she is starting to ask for a phone. A number of her friends already have one, but after attending a talk some years ago looking at whether we as parents are ready for social media and our kids, I’ve been trying to put it off and will continue to put it off as long as I can. However, in this guest post that I’ve been asked to share with you here are 3 reasons why your child should have a phone.
Just like the topic of walking to school on her own, personally, I don’t believe that she is ready, and the ultimate decision on these two important topics lies with me, her parent. I get that she is starting to want and need more independence. Next school year, she will be in her final year of primary school, and she needs to be allowed some element of freedom to gain the confidence she will need to move forward to high school. But I”M NOT READY!
Anyway, I was asked to share the article below, which is a great topic for debate and conversation for any parent at this scary yet important crossroads in their child’s life. So here are 3 reasons why your child SHOULD have a phone to consider when making this decision.
Disclaimer: This is a guest post.
3 Reasons Your Child Should Have a Phone
As technology rapidly progresses, children are getting more involved in their parents’ phones, if not their own. This controversial topic is one that requires a slight expansion of the mind, letting go of traditional views, morals, and expectations for your children.
Today’s current generation of children is transitioning faster than ever to the use of online games, education, social media, and future additions to the once-flip-phone. No one is to blame for feeling concerned about their child’s mental and physical health, and how that might be affected by the use of technology (TV, iPads, and computers included). Studies have revealed alarming statistics on the psychological effects of social media, especially with females, an increase in obesity correlating with more time spent playing video games, especially with males, and the addiction to screen time as children age.
What older generations tend to forget, or never realize, is that phones and other electronic devices can be limited through parental restriction settings and monitored by an adult. Also, there are many important reasons to allow your child to have a cell phone in this day and age for social, safety, and responsibility reasons. You can use this opportunity to teach your child important skills, get them excited about different (emerging) learning styles, and allow them to communicate with their friends, who likely have cell phones already too.
Improving Their Social Skills
Contrary to popular belief, texting and calling don’t typically affect a child’s ability to communicate, make eye contact, or be social in other aspects. Many factors have instilled these behaviours in children, including parenting styles, educational systems, religious backgrounds, and friend circles (or lack of). And just because a child has difficulty making eye contact at age ten, this does not mean that child will grow to be someone incapable of socializing “normally.”
Having a method of communication at younger ages, instead of traditionally through parent to parent, is extremely beneficial for children. Whether it’s texting, calling, or engaging with others on social media and games, children thrive from having a community, especially considering the times of the pandemic and how that has isolated children.
Introducing your child to this form of sociality might also reduce any technological addictions to develop later. The fact is that cell phones and other forms of electronic communications are inevitable, and children are naturally being introduced to them more and more frequently. To deprive a child of their friends’ experience, could potentially be more hazardous to their sociality.
Location Tracking and Their Safety
Regardless of age, children are going to be out of your site frequently. Whether they are playing with friends at the neighbourhood park, on the bus to school, or attending after-school activities, your child is making independent moves without you knowing!
If you have ever shown up at an event to pick up your child, you might know the frustration and fear that occurs when your child is not at the designated meeting point. Especially with the media forecasting scary stories about child abduction and other things, it might be of your benefit to let your child explore technology earlier than you did so that you can track them down at any point.
Since the smartphones were released, tracking your child has never been easier. You can track the phone’s current location with Family Orbit, giving yourself some stress relief and your child a sense of independence. If there is only one of all the reasons your child should have a phone, this is the one I’d pick.
It Teaches Them Responsibility
Of course, with independence comes responsibility, another great benefit of obtaining a cell phone at a young age. Like giving your child a puppy or kitten, giving them a cell phone encourages responsibility. They have to take care of it, not lose it or break it, understand the importance of keeping it secure with them at all times, etc.
You can even challenge them upon getting the phone by having them provide a list of X amount of reasons they need a phone, which will encourage them to understand the power it holds. Reminding them of how mature they are, rather than lucky, will instil a sense of adulthood and trust.
Trust is one of the most significant ways to inspire responsibility within a child. You can be the type of parent that reads their messages and checks their apps for any signs of scandal, or you can let them know you trust them to make the right decisions, use the phone appropriately, and let you know if any strange conversation or things is popping up for them. In addition to responsibility, this can create a stronger bond between you and your child, where open communication is encouraged.
Make Sure You’re Ready
These three reasons your child should have a phone are one side of the debate. On the other side, reasons why they should not have a phone, are the really scary ones, the ones we as parents are most worried about. The thought of it actually gives me anxiety, but I know the day will come.
Just as the day you’re child is born is unstoppable, the first day they walk to school alone, the first day they get a phone, the first day they go to high school, boyfriends or girlfriends, going to a party, going to college, leaving home. All these things are inevitable, and it’s part of a parent’s job description to intentionally consider when is the right time for your child. To prepare them for the responsibility as best you can. That’s a big job, but it’s all we can really do. Whatever decision we all inevitably make, we must intentionally do what’s best for our child.