The Great Cell Phone Debate
I currently find myself embroiled in The Great Cell Phone Debate of 2018. There’s drama, tears, logic, illogic, comments from the peanut gallery…it makes the presidential debate of 2016 look like a cakewalk.
As we’ve been plummeting down this rabbit hole of “when’s the right age to get your kid a cell phone” conversation over the past year, there are a few things I’ve learned.
Never tell your eleven year old to do her own research on the costs and benefits of giving cell phones to children.
It took only one time for my daughter to ask me what “sexting” was before I learned this lesson.
My kid knows more about technology than I do.
This is great when you need help programming the remote. It’s less great when you’re talking about security features and monitoring of cell phone use.
The argument, “but everyone else has one,” is guaranteed to make me say no.
If everyone else is doing it, it’s probably an awful idea. That’s a rule for life – it’s right up there with, never touch someone’s booty without permission and don’t lick your sister’s shoe.
Threatening to buy your almost teenager a flip phone if she keeps nagging is guaranteed to cause her to throw herself on the floor in a paroxysm of horrified tears – or at the very least break out in hives.
Yes, it’s a little funny. No, it’s not very nice.
As much as I want to say otherwise, cell phones are not the reason for the decay of modern society – or at least, not the only one.
There are some good, solid reasons for kids to have cell phones. Communication (calling for a ride home) and safety concerns (calling for help when alone), to name a couple.
There are just as many good, solid reasons for kids not to have cell phones. Communication (keyboard warriors are mean and prolific, and I prefer to talk to your face and not the top of your head while you stare at your phone) and safety concerns (the internet can be a big, dangerous place), to name a couple.
It comes down to needs vs. wants.
We’ve currently decided that at this stage of the game a cell phone for our kid is a want and not a need. As much as she WANTS it, she really doesn’t NEED it, so we’re erroring on the side of caution for this particular technology.
As evidenced by the extreme emotion around here, this is a heart issue.
I’d be lying if I said it’s easy to see my kid so upset when all of her friends are texting after school and talking about their new phones while she’s feeling left out of the group. At this age it’s so hard for kids to feel excluded – expecially since they’re starting to transition from needing parental approval to needing peer approval.
However, after witnessing some of the damage some of these group texts have caused in her friendships this year, balancing some heart damage now against possible, more painful heart damage later, is something her father and I are very conscious of.
At the end of the day, we’ve had to tell our daughter that at this time and place we’re doing what we think is best, but that as she gets older and circumstances change, decisions will be reevaluated.
What are your thoughts? Anyone else going through this right now?
Sandra Samoska is a writer with a love for Jesus and a love for family. When she's not chasing around her four kids and doing all the things, you can find her writing about the ways God shows up in our every day lives.
We start them on phone training when they start middle school.
Mark Gregston of Heartlight ministry has a podcast about this topic that is worth the time.
I think when you make this decision as a parent to let your child have a phone. You also have to make the commitment that you are going to put the effort in to “mentor and monitor.”
Thanks for the resource, Andy! We’re really just starting down this road, so we’re looking for all the help we can get. I completely agree with your last statement – we need to make that commitment and put forth the effort when the time comes.
This is indeed a hot topic! Here’s a link to the best resource I have found so far. The videos are free and then there is a 30-day smartphone reboot that you can join for a fee. I use so many of the resources Axis creates that I actually purchased the all-access pass, which makes the reboot free for my family. I receive nothing in return for sharing this. I just simply believe they have some of the best resources out there. I hope you find this helpful!
Thanks, Dawn! I appreciate the resource.