Written by: Stéphanie Deslauriers
In our day and age, parenting extends to dealing with our children’s increasing pleas for technology, whether it’s the latest tablet, console or smartphone. So when do we start giving in to their demands, because they start asking pretty early!
First off, we all know their #1 argument: “But mom, ALL my friends have one!” Yeah, right. Now that’s a lie if I every heard one. Our children know how to strike a chord and guilt is often the one they go for. So what is a parent to do? The first step is to look at the big picture and ask ourselves some practical questions.
The question at the top of your list should be “Why would my kid need a phone?” No family is the same so there’s no right answer, just different ones. For instance, are you often away from home on business? Do you share custody? Is your child’s school in the city and you juggle with several afterschool activities? It’s good to take a step back and get a bird's-eye view of the situation before you make your decision.
When it comes to younger children, the main question is simple: “Is my child ever in emergency situations where he or she needs to reach me fast?” followed by “What are the odds of such a situation arising?” If the probability is low and you find yourself imagining a series of over-the-top scenarios, then the “safety first” argument is off the table and shouldn’t be the reason you get the phone.
What use does your kid have for a cell phone? Is your child alone when they come home from school and you’d like them to call to make sure they’re safe since you don’t have a landline? That’s not a bad reason. But if the phone is going to be used for gaming, texting or listening to YouTube videos, a tablet is probably sufficient. Cell phone plans don’t come that cheap. The starting price for a plan that lets you surf the Web and download content is about $70/month, which represents a significant monthly expense that you could do without.
What is your child’s relationship to technology? Do they overdo it when it comes to screen time? How do they react when you ask them to turn off their mobile devices? Do you think they’ll spend too much time on their phone in class (where it will obviously be a distraction) or before bed-time, sometimes staying up late without your knowledge?
These are only a few of the issues you and your children should discuss when it comes to cell phones. Talk with them to determine whether they have the maturity required to manage their Internet use.
If you come to the conclusion that they need a phone for safety reasons, there’s always the possibility of getting a phone with a basic plan that doesn’t include data and does strictly what a phone should do: make calls!