Smartphone usage for kids
My eldest daughter will be turning 11 next month and doesn’t have a smartphone.
We bought her a tablet for educational purposes only. It contains educational apps and a few games. This tablet has no social media apps on it.
She can use our laptops or her tablet to access the internet for information. Sourcing information for projects or assignments but this is also monitored by us. But having restricted use of a tablet or laptop is not the same as having your very own smartphone.
Reasons we not getting our daughter a smartphone
Don’t think for a second that this question of when she’s getting one didn’t pop up yet.
She started inquiring about getting a smartphone two years ago.
Both my husband and I upgraded to new phones and the old ones were just lying around. Although we had spare phones that was still in a pretty good condition but it wasn’t just a case of; oh here is a phone lying around so you can have it as a hand me down.
Our answer to her question was pretty simple “NO – you are way too young to get a smartphone”. This wasn’t a random decision but something that we thought through even before she asked for one.
Being a parent can be hard work and saying no to your child isn’t always easy but this was the easiest “no” that we ever had to say.
She still tried to negotiate and substantiate reasons for her to have one, even though our answer was no. So we gave her the platform to state her case which was three fold. The first was that most of her classmates had smartphones. The second was that she could connect with her friends, cousins and grandparents and the third was that we can contact her should she go on a school outing or stay after school for extra mural activities.
For some these reasons might be convincing but not to us. So we answered her on all three points.
Firstly our kids know that we don’t buy them everything that their hearts desire and if other kids have it, it doesn’t mean they going to get it as well – so that answered her first reason.
Secondly, the fact that she want to use it to communicate with friends and family. Our answer to that was “so if you are going to chat to your friends, cousins and grandparents over the phone, what will you possibly chat about when you see them at school or when you going to visit them.”
Thirdly, that a smart phone would be good when she goes on outings or have extra murals – why a smartphone and not just a normal phone where you can just send an sms or make a phone call. Plus at the school that my girls attend, parents accompany learners on school outings as they need to lift. We have formed a parent whatsapp group should there be a need to request information about the whereabouts of our kids or anything school related. The same goes for extra murals there is always a teacher’s number we have. So functionally this is working well and we don’t see the need for her to have a smartphone.
She didn’t accept these reasons very well. “That’s not fair – you so old fashioned and living in the dark ages”.
Are we old fashioned and are we the only goofballs that haven’t budged in giving in to our daughter’s request for a smartphone?
Our reasons for not getting her one any time soon are as follows:
A smartphone just opens up all the possibilities of having access to the world out there. The internet is such a wide web and as parents we need to be very careful that we don’t give our kids unrestricted access as they might just click on something that can be harmful and dangerous. Monitoring usage of a phone and what she will connect to can be very difficult if she will be carrying it with her all the time.
We want our daughter to have her own thoughts and identity – social media influences that at such a young age.
I want her to pay attention to what is happening around her – to be aware of her surrounding and to have real face to face conversations with her friends and family members. Kids are just glued to their phones and nothing else matters around them. They won’t even pay attention to the people in a room and join in on the conversation.
We don’t want her to become obsessed with the phone, constantly having to check for messages or social updates.
We want our daughter to be a child for the longest time. Somehow smartphones make children feel less attracted to outside activities as they constantly want to be on their phones.
She is still too young to take on that responsibility of owning a smartphone. Smartphones are expensive. These phones will break, get lost or stolen. Parents feel the need to replace it. Kids will misplace their smartphones and then end up finding it when they’ve already received another one.
Having a smartphone is expensive, besides it costing a lot to either buy it cash or take out a contract, there is the added expense of taking out insurance and still buying data and airtime. And with kids downloading music, games and all sorts of apps – data will be needed at all times.
As parents, we sometimes need to stand firm on our decisions and for now we are not budging and are not convinced that there is a real need for her to have a smartphone. So yes we have an old fashion stance on this matter – but that’s ok.
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