My oldest child will turn 11 in a few weeks. He will start middle school in the fall. He has asked for a phone for his birthday, and I am considering the request.
I know that many of his friends already have various forms of smart phones. I also know that in middle school there will not be one teacher responsible for making sure he gets home in the event of dismissal changes. He has activities now with variable end times, and will start doing more of these.
So there is some logic to getting a phone. There are also some potential downsides.
I’m not terribly worried about volume of screen time. Between school, sports and other extra-curriculars, homework, family activities, and an enforced bedtime, there aren’t that many hours available for random web surfing. Longtime readers may also suspect I find the wistful nostalgic essays posted on the internet (the irony!) about how children need to be out climbing trees kind of funny.
That said, there are some not nice things on the web — the obvious not-nice things, and not-nice things I haven’t even thought to think about. While he uses our home computer (and sometimes my old laptop) to access YouTube and games, these are possible to police in a way that might become difficult if he has a phone that travels with him.
Then there’s this more practical issue: this is a child who managed to lose his winter coat twice in one weekend. I shudder to think how many phones might disappear.
Since he is our eldest, whatever we decide for him will inevitably become our family “phone policy.” So I’m curious what other people’s family phone policies might be. At what age have your children gotten phones? What kind of phones? What rules did you develop? And what happens when your children lose the phones or violate the rules?
Photo: Say hello to the future indeed…