I know this might be controversial to some out there and trust me, I weighed the risks and benefits of giving Frankie his own cell phone (since he was 4) and we felt there was more benefits than risks if we “do it right” which is still a learning curve, I’m not gonna lie. We live in a world full of technology and, for many of us, our children understand it better than we do. I know some parents may feel pressured by their children to provide them with a cell phone at an early age, but aren’t sure when children are actually ready for this responsibility. The right answer to that is that they are ready when YOU are ready for it. Some parents think 4 is way too young and maybe it is. Maybe we just got lucky with Frankie being responsible. Some kids can’t even tie their own shoes (mine can’t yet) so what in my right mind made us think giving him a smartphone will do or accomplish? Well, I saw many benefits. For example:
- The ability to communicate in emergency situations. Many families don’t have home phones and public pay phones are a thing of the past. With Frankie having seizures we think it is beneficial for him to carry a sell phone at all times.
- Opportunities for social contact with family. We have family that doesn’t even live in the same state and grandparents don’t get to see him, but on a monthly basis if that. He can communicate with them through video, marco polo, group chats and now even texting!
- Ability to gain immediate knowledge for the English vocabulary! Yes, our son is not even in first grade yet and reads at a second grade level. He writes and spells awesomely! I have to give the credit to our persistence and the cell phone. We found it a learning game to have him text us. He would sound out words and learned to read faster!
- Entertainment – What kid doesn’t want to spend hours watching people do silly things on YouTube? Enough said right? I know that with this some restriction and boundaries have to be put into place but that is why we only let him use it when we are around.
We have set boundaries and if he doesn’t follow or respect them there are consequences. He knows that in school the phone is off. Before he gets down from car line we remind him. He knows that cell phones DO NOT belong during a meal. I despise seeing families eating together and none are talking to each other and instead are all into their cell phones. I also do random checks on his phone, for content, texts, etc. And yes, parental controls are in place but now a days you never know and can’t be too careful. If he gets exposed to something that I believe will eventually come across then we address it. (Read my post on why we don’t believe in sheltering Frankie) We are open with him about certain context or sites. We tell him to show us if something looks odd or makes him feel weird or gives him bad vibes. Once again… when we don’t act surprised or be judgmental we see that our son trusts us. He tells us before we even question him and I know that someday this might change, but this is the foundation we are giving him now. For some reason it is working for us and I know for others that is not the case. We are all different and so are our kids. I see more benefits from him having a cell phone and it has proven me right so far. Some may not agree with my methods but it is working for us at the moment. Do you let your toddler have a cell? Maybe you let them use yours? What kind of boundaries are you establishing?