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Does Your Child Really Need a Smartphone?

Updated on May 20, 2019
Stina Caxe profile image

Cristina is a business professional who has a degree in art and a degree in psychology. A mother of two, community volunteer and writer.

I just wonder why

This is not intended to lecture any parent about giving their child a smartphone. I only hope that each parent does take time to consider a few things. First, is your child getting a phone because you made the decision or because he or she somehow convinced a phone is necessary? Second, do you set a good example as far as cell phone etiquette goes? Let's be honest, kids imitate their parents and when it comes to our smartphones, many parents do not have very good phone etiquette.

Phone for a 5 year old

A few years ago a friend of mine told me she was getting her daughter a smartphone for Christmas. Her daughter was 5 at the time. My own daughter is only a couple months older than hers so naturally I wondered if I should be getting one for my child as well. I decided against it for one main reason, at their ages my children are too young to be anywhere without adult supervision so there is no need for them to have a phone when the responsible adult should be reachable or able to make calls in case of an emergency.

My children know how to use a phone and they know their parents and grandparents phone numbers by heart so if absolutely necessary they can make a call or inform an adult of a number to call. They have use of a computer to help them with any computer related school assignments. They each have a kindle fire for entertainment purposes however, the time they are allowed to spend on these devices is limited.

Technology VS Social Interaction

I believe it is important for children to learn how to use and be comfortable using technology. The only reason I suggest limiting their time on devices is because social interaction is extremely important as well.

Thinking back to my own childhood, I imagine what life would have been like if I had a smartphone. I wonder if I would have made the friends back then that I am now still friends with over 30 years later had I been glued to a phone rather than out playing kickball or hide and seek in the neighborhood. Growing up, I played with my friends and had fun being creative and learning new things through experience. I also learned how to be warm and welcoming as well as respectful and appreciative to others through social interactions.

You can't hold life in your hand

My teenage nieces and nephews have been glued to their phones for years now and have gone from fun loving children to antisocial adolescents with majorly disrespectful attitudes.

Yes, most teenages are disrespectful and antisocial however, when a teenager would rather look at his or her phone that actually spend physical time with friends there has got to be a problem. The fact is, one cannot experience life by hiding behind a screen!

Is your teen broadcasting herself?

Many people use their smartphones as cameras. It is great because you can snap a pic and instantly share it with anybody you want. I probably use my own smartphone for photos more than anything else.

My children love to take photos and videos and they often use their tablets for such things. Their photos and videos do not get posted on social media unless I do it myself. When they are old enough to do such things I only hope that I will have taught them what is appropriate and what is not and that they will use good judgement.

One of the teenagers in my family started using Snapchat around the age of 14. She felt as if her entire life was a tv show that needed to be broadcasted. It was not only extremely rude to anybody visiting her house (I for one didn't want to be in her own personal show) but I remember telling her mother how dangerous I thought this behavior was. A young girl should not feel as if she has to put her whole personal life out there in order to feel special or validate anything. Thankfully she has stopped this behavior and is now focusing on her athletics instead.

Safety and Values

I am always paranoid about the dangers to our kids lurking around every corner. The internet is full of these dangers and smartphones give those dangers such easier access to our children.

As a Girl Scout leader I am in contact with many other girls that range from kindergarten age to teenagers. I try my best to set a good example for all of them. I also try to stress the importance of the life lessons that Girl Scouts try to teach. The Girl Scout Law for instance states:

I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

These are the values I want my daughter to have. I do not want to teach her that it is okay to ignore the rest of the world as long as her social media presence is strong!

Life goes by in a blink of the eye

About half the girls in my troop have their own phones. The youngest ones are only 5 or 6 years old! Their parents bring them to the meetings and instead of helping or participating, they sit in the corner with their eyes glued to their own phones while their daughters sit at the table, ignore everything being taught and have their eyes glued to their phones, just like their moms.

It is extremely upsetting for me as a leader to see these girls missing out on important lessons or fun activities just to look at their phones! It's only twice a month! If your child can't look away from their phone for one hour twice a month, there is a problem!

No Phones!

The girls who are constantly on their phones also tend to be much more rude and inconsiderate and unwilling to help. During cookie booth season I had to make a rule that no girl was to use their phone at a cookie booth. I hate doing that because I want the girls to be able to take photos of their activities to remember them and to spread word of our fundraisers and community service however, nobody wants to buy cookies from some kids who has their nose pointed to a phone.

Last week, my troop was at a beautiful boat marina where we were helping to build picnic tables for a charitable organization. Not only was the scenery incredible, but we were doing something wonderful that the girls were doing as part of earning their major awards and badges. One of my girls who is only 8 years old could not bear to part with her phone. At one point she did set it on the table in order to hold a drill with both hands. At that point her phone rang and the girl looked at me and demanded I answer it for her! The same girls mother came to my office a couple days later to fill out forms for her daughter to go camping. Once the mother found out that phones were not allowed at camp she reconsidered, stating that her daughter would not go anywhere she could not bring her phone. Personally I think her daughter needs to be away from her phone for a few days!

Will My Children EVER Have a Phone?

When I feel the time is right I will get smartphones for my children. When they are old enough to go places without an adult to supervise, I feel it will be best for them to have access to technology that lets them call for help, look up information, and be easier to get a hold of. When that time comes however, I plan on having strict rules about using their phones responsibly as well as respectfully.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Cristina Cakes


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