In today’s tech driven world parents often find themselves wrestling over the topic of cell phones with their children. If your child is between the ages of 9 and 16 and doesn’t have a cell phone, chances are that they want one. Chances are also good that the subject is frequently broached in your home. I’m sure being a parent is a balancing act and as every parent knows from experience, the wants of a child are very different from needs of a child. Your child may want a phone but it’s up to you as the parent to weigh the issue carefully and decide if it is a real need.
When you gift children phones you’re handing over extremely powerful communications and production devices. Life was easier for parents when cell phones did one thing, made phone calls. With smartphones, not only do kids get full access to the internet on their phones, they are also able to text, make videos and take pictures. The videos and pictures can be extensively distributed and uploaded to websites. In addition, you are giving your child the ability to broadcast their status and their location. If you think your kid’s tech savvy is greater than his ability to use it judiciously, pay attention to the gap. In effect, you’re exposing your children to a world that can be a wonderful place, but at the same time, not so wonderful. Just as you have rules in your home for the internet; it’s a good idea to make a list of rules for phone usage. It’s your job as a parent to teach your children to conduct themselves well, regardless of technology.
There are important advantages to children having a cell phone. On the plus side, giving your child a phone can be a nice convenience for families with chaotic schedules. Phones help coordinate rides home. They also assist during emergency situations. When fitted with a GPS tracking device, they provide an electronic tether to home which allows a parent to know where their underage children are. But they also turn into a huge distraction for kids. Children can become so technologically connected to their phones that they run the risk of not looking at who is sitting next to them. They tune the world out, becoming focused exclusively on the small screen in their young hands. So not only are they unaware of the dangers around them, they miss the beauty around them as well.
Although making a list of rules associated with a phone is important, what may be even more important is to remember that your child learns by observing you. If you keep your phone turned on and allow the beeps and buzzes to interrupt him as he is talking to you, he will notice. If you are so connected to your phone that you have it with you at all times, he will notice. If you read text messages or emails while out with the family, be assured, he will notice. In the end, giving your children rules is fine, but showing your children how you want them to conduct themselves by your actions is better yet.
Until next time,
Peace, love and vitamin C!