Who has the newest iPhone? Or Galaxy? Or whichever brand floats your boat?
How many of you have kids who also have the latest and greatest electronic devices?
I’m hesitant to write this post, because I am afraid fellow parents who read this will think I am judging them. I am not.
Instead, I want you to consider things that you may not have considered before. Things that may negatively affect your life now and in the coming years.
My oldest, who is 13, has a smartphone. I bought it for him when he was heading off to middle school. At the time, it seemed like a good choice. Most of his friends already had smartphones well before he did.
My youngest, currently nine, is chomping at the bit, trying (unsuccessfully) to get me to buy him one this year for Christmas. He has even resorted to praying at night that Santa will bring him one for Christmas. I totally think this is a dead giveaway that he no longer believes in Santa, but is using him as a manipulation tactic. I’m no dummy.
I am leaning towards making him wait until eighth grade to get a smartphone. But I am torn. On one hand, I know I should do what’s best for my son, but on the other hand, I want to be fair to him.
I hate these kinds of parenting decisions, especially as a single mom.
Kids and Smartphones
My oldest is pretty responsible with his smartphone. He isn’t interested in social media, and isn’t on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, or the likes. He doesn’t play games online. However, I have seen a spike in the amount of time he spends on his phone lately, playing silly games and even creating his own. And it’s making me nervous.
Phone addiction is real. I feel like I need to be really cautious and cognizant of this myself. I really appreciated when the new iPhone update allowed me to place restrictions on my own screen time, because sometimes, I simply don’t realize how much time I actually spend browsing and scrolling.
I don’t want to be addicted to my phone, and I certainly don’t want that for my kids. I want them to be kids. Let them meet up with their friends in person, be active and social in the same room. I want that for me, too.
Guidelines for Kids and Electronics
What’s to be done? I do think there are some things we can put into place to help.
Wait. Rethink that tablet or device as a Christmas present this year.
Restrict. You are in control. Don’t be afraid of being the bad guy, or the only parent who doesn’t let his or her child do this or that.
Set limits. Social media and online gaming, if you let them have it, should not be given to a child without clear boundaries. Establish clear expectations of how long kids can spend on devices and how often.
Be involved. I read my oldest son’s texts and he knows I do. I think it helps him make better decisions and is better able to check himself before he presses send. Keep the dialogue open about friends who send things they shouldn’t. I’ve let parents know when their child may be crossing the line. I would want someone to tell me as well.
Put it away. Keep your kid’s devices in your room at night so they are not tempted to “check” things in the middle of the night when they should be sleeping.
Model. This one is hard. Show your kids that being present, in the moment is what is most important, and put away your phone when you are spending time together as a family.
I am not sure what the future will bring, but more and more research is coming out about all the effects of electronics and social media and our mental health, and it’s not looking good. I worry that our children, and us, are going to see some pretty harmful effects of letting things get out of control. This post about teens on instagram by Anissa shook me.
I am a blogger, so I see many positive things about access to infinite information on a daily basis, but I’m not naive to think it’s all good.
Be cautious, be mindful, and be aware of how big of a role electronics plays in your family’s life. Take charge. Your kids will not set the limits themselves, so it’s up to you.
What will you decide?