My First Grade Son Does Not Have an iPhone, or any phone at all. Nor does my Fifth Grade son.
My first grade son does not have an iPhone because it would be a very expensive and dangerous toy. He does not need a phone, and he certainly does not need an iPhone.
When my now-fifth grader was in third grade, he began the chant of begging, “When can I get a phone?” I couldn’t believe he was serious. I tried to keep a straight face when I told him no, I’m not buying a third grader a phone.
My older kids chimed in, “A lot of first graders have iPhones, Mom.”
“Yeah, mom, it’s really sad when these little 6 year olds whip out phones way nicer than mine, and I’m 16.”
My seventh grade son has a flip phone.
We purchase our kids phones when they start middle school. We have a tough time getting flip phones for our kids because phone stores barely sell cheap phones anymore, and we are paying for a data plan that we have shut off.
It’s not that I’m opposed to technology. I love texting and it’s been an excellent form of communication. I like the way the kids keep in touch with us, and sometimes they share information via texting that they wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing in person. Often it’s just little tidbits about their day.
Our high school girls (ages 16 and 18) just this year upgrades to Smartphones.***
I’d like to say I’m totally comfortable with this, but to be honest I have reservations. Yet we know we have to lead our children as they grow, and they are moving into adulthood.
When you hand your child a phone with the internet, you are handing her the world in her pocket. Do parents understand this? I fear many parents do not. I realize my kids have internet access in other places. They have laptops and use the computer at home and at school. But there’s a huge difference between controlled situations and carrying it around 24/7.
When you hand your child a phone with the internet, you are handing her the world in her pocket.
We have wonderful, awesome, fantastic kids. We have also had issues with them getting into stuff on the internet that they shouldn’t, despite Mike and I putting passwords, parent controls, monitoring, and more on what they do. The temptation is huge and the variety and availability is so great. I imagine EVERY TEEN WHO USES THE INTERNET — every adult, too — has done some of this, whether it’s chat rooms, porn, online shopping, wasting time, gaming into the night, reading material that isn’t Christ-like, chatting with strangers, online relationships that take the place of real ones, and lots more.
Children online unsupervised is the same as going to another location without an adult. Would you allow your child to go to the mall without you? That’s a good indication if he is ready to handle being on the internet without your complete supervision.
When our teens were given Smartphones, we blocked many of the features. We monitor all their use of the phone.*** As they show responsible and safe use, we will gradually add more apps and open more features.
Managing Phones & Kids: What We Do
- Kids get phones starting in middle school, when they are going to activities where they might walk home, get rides with friend’s parents, etc. and need to be in touch with us. Before this time a phone is unnecessary.
- We as parents own the phone. We are paying for the phone, but even if a child pays for a phone at a later time, we as parents of the household still have a right to monitor the phone as guardians and protectors of the kids in our household.
- Because we are the parents, we have a right to read anything on the phone. No texts are to be deleted until we give permission.*** We have the right to take away the phone at any point.
- Kids pay a portion of their allowance for the phone.
- Everyone in our house (kids and adults) signs our family technology agreement. Here is a copy of our family’s: Technology Agreement
- When our children started using smartphones, we bought a subscription to TeenSafe, which is a phone monitoring service for parents. Some people object to this type of monitoring, but I believe in the value of it. We are not spying on them because they knew how we were monitoring them. The main reason we chose TeenSafe is that it shows everything — including deleted texts and chats. The one drawback to TeenSafe is that it only works on Smartphones, so you can’t use it to monitor texting if your child still has an older phone, which is what we prefer for our teens.
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Do you have kids and teens — how have you handled phones and the internet with them? Have you struggled personally with internet use temptations?
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