Growing up, if I wanted to talk to my friends on the phone I had to use a landline. Then I entered high school and slowly, but surely, more and more people were purchasing mobile phones. Before I knew it my friends had Nokias and Motorolas, Blackberries and even the occasional iPhone. And now? Well, now everyone has smartphone... including children. But when should you give your child a smartphone? Or any phone, for that matter? To answer this question Romper reached out to a number of moms to share the when and why behind their decision to hand over a phone to their child.
As with any parenting decision, there are a number of reasons why giving a child a smartphone could be beneficial. From keeping track of your children, to being able to stay in constant contact with them (especially in the wake of so many devastating school shootings), to simply assuaging your fears as a parent who has sent their child out into the world, there's something to be said for the comforts this technology can provide.
There are, of course, downsides, too. Experts warn against too much screen time, online predators and bullying is very much a thing, and it's possible for kids to accidentally (or purposefully) find age-inappropriate content via the internet. But for better or worse, deciding whether or not you're going to allow your child to have a smartphone is a reality us parents have to face when raising children in the digital era. So with that in mind, here's when, and why, some parents decided to take the digital plunge:
“Now that my daughter stays home alone and I don’t have a home phone (who does?), I need to be able to reach her. I [also] need her to be able to reach help if, god forbid, something ever happened. She’s 11. Also, she tells me she's bored like 20 less times a day.”
“I gave my daughter an iPhone for her 10th birthday. It was that or a new iPod, and since she was coming up on middle school where she may need to call me after activities, it seemed like a waste to buy a iPod that would be replaced by a phone in another year or two anyway.”
“I got my son an inexpensive Cricket smartphone last October when he was 10 because he started walking home from school. I actually wanted to get him a flip phone, but they were way more expensive than the $30 Cricket. It has minimal data, and he really just uses it for calling and texting a small group of people.
I also wanted a way to get a hold of him when he is with his dad — who typically ignores my phone calls and texts. (We share custody.) It was a good decision. He hasn't lost it or broken it, and it keeps us connected, which gives me peace of mind.”
“I gave my kid a phone at 10 only because he was walking home from school and staying at home for about an hour-and-a-half by himself.”
“My daughter was about 11. The reason I let her have a basic phone was because of the Jessica Ridgeway case. She walked two blocks to school in the morning and I couldn't always walk with her.”
“My mom, who has an 11-year-old son, just got him a cell phone a few weeks ago. Her reasoning was he was starting to stay home alone, and they don’t have a landline to call.”
“I gave my daughter a phone when they started walking to school alone in the 7th grade. They cross a very busy intersection.”