Before I ever had kids, I always thought that I would be the cool mom. You know the type, the one that is more like a friend than a parent. As their best friend, my kids would tell me everything. I would trust them completely and not worry about them making bad decisions- because they would never want to disappoint me. I would give them everything they wanted without the worry of them being entitled or spoiled. Whatever electronics they wanted or claimed they needed, I would do my best to get them.
And then I had some kids of my own. Three boys to be exact. And I couldn’t have a more different outlook on technology and the impact it could have on my kids. Now, before I tell you the decisions my husband and I have made for our children, I feel like I must make a disclaimer. In no way do we feel like we have this parenting thing figured out. In fact, each day throws us new things that we have no idea what to do with. There is nothing worse than a judgmental, opinionated and condescending blog (or person) that makes all of us parents feel like we are screwing up or slowly killing our children. This is not that type of blog post. I am telling you about the decisions we have made for our family that help us to be a little less paranoid about raising kids in this world filled with temptations and evil.
My husband and I have made the decision to not allow our children to have smart phones of their own, ever. I have the same conviction about internet ready tablets and computers that are “theirs”. My husband said it best, “Why add another avenue for evil to enter into my child’s life and into our home?” And I couldn’t agree more.
There are so many other things that my kids will have to battle through, (friends, peer pressure, relationships) that I don’t want to add more to their plate, or mine. My oldest is ten and he is a independent, strong-willed, sensitive and loyal little boy. But I am noticing that he’s not so little anymore. I will never reveal where I receive my inside information (he probably thinks I have rigged the school with hidden cameras) but I found out recently that many of the kids at my son’s school have smart phones and aren’t being super responsible with them. NOT SHOCKING TO ME! Ten-year-old children are not super responsible! Apparently, the boys were on the internet looking at a questionable website. Since my son didn’t have a phone, it was shown to him from someone else’s. When I talked to him about it, he described some of the things he saw and I was so sad for not just him, but for these other boys. At ten years old, the images and things they are seeing they can’t really process in the correct way. It’s just too early. There was another instance where a group of his friends created a group text and they all were chatting back and forth. Unfortunately, one of those people forgot all who was in that group text and wrote some hurtful things about someone who happened to be reading it. Listen, if your child can’t remember who they put on their own group text, it’s safe to say their phone is smarter than they are. And that is not said to be mean. These phones are SMART and I don’t want my son carrying around a device at all times that can out-think him.
I know that my son desires a phone because his friends have them. He could play games, watch You Tube videos, text, Facetime…the list goes on and on. All these things sound so fun to him. But then he sees all the drama it can bring too, and he’s really not that bummed about it. I asked him the other day, “See, aren’t you happy you don’t have a phone? Then you don’t have to deal with all that stuff.” He thought about it for a second and then said, “I wouldn’t say I am happy to not have a phone, but I am really not sad about it.” I thought that was the perfect answer, because sometimes we need to disappoint our kids to protect them, and guess what…they will survive! They won’t wither into nothing, they won’t be made fun of, and they won’t lose friends because they don’t have a phone.
Protect your children, and preserve their innocence for as long as you can. There will be plenty of other struggles in their life for them to deal with without putting more pressure on them to make decisions with technology they don’t truly understand. I know I can’t protect him forever, but it’s my decision to try and protect him for as long as I can and not be naive to the fact that boys (and all kids in general) have access to so much more than they need to at their age. When the time comes where my son needs to have a phone for safety reasons, I’ll be sure to dig up my old razor phone for him. I know it’s around here somewhere.