The topic of ‘what’s the right age to give our children a smartphone’ is a regular headliner amongst our group of friends. And its a regular occurrence that one of our children comes home and says ‘but Mom..so and so now has a phone. Why can’t I?”. <Sigh> <Can I have a glass of wine please?>
I’m not budging. No way no how. I have seen how this goes down. The good, the bad, and the ugly – the anxiety and depression; the addiction. I’ve seen it first hand in my own home amongst my older children. At this point I am just grateful that I have a set of like-minded friends who have agreed not to introduce the smartphone complexity to our 10 year olds. They can moan amongst each other about what rotten parents we are and we’re fine with that because there’s ‘safety in numbers’.
At the same time I have an appreciation for the peer pressure both kids and parents experience on this subject and the awful feeling like you’re the only one holding out.
As such, I was thrilled to receive the email below from a fellow parent, who also happens to be a Psychotherapist specializing in youth, rallying the parental troops around the topic of age appropriate smartphone acquisition and usage. And I wondered if you all might benefit from the note she sent to a substantial group of us, raising awareness about the waituntil8th pledge. The awesome thing – was the response she received. The unity and empowerment that a large group of parents experienced knowing that we were all in this together, agreeing on ‘waituntil8th’. Total ‘solidarity’. There’s power in that. Maybe you’re looking for a way to rally your community in the same way but don’t know how?
Thank you to Rebekah Balboni, LCSW, for agreeing to let me share. Please feel free to copy and paste and create a community pledge yourselves. Make sure you check out www.waituntil8th.org
I thought I’d send this out now because when I sent out something similar to my older sons’ friends in 5th grade I was already too late! Basically, I’m hoping that, as a community, we can all band together to wait until 8th grade to get our kids a smartphone. It will be easier if we have a community doing it together and our kids won’t bug us by saying things like, “everyone else has one”. There’s actually a movement to encourage families to consider doing this. There is so much research out there showing how smartphone use contributes to increased anxiety and depression in our youth and its certainly something I have seen in my therapy practice with families. As well, I see so many families struggle with their ability to set limits on phone/screen use once their kid has a smartphone and it causes a lot of conflict.
Although most of my 7th graders friends have one, we have continued to hold off on giving him a smartphone and he’s totally still alive and he has time to engage with us and I’m really glad about our choice to wait. He has a dumb flip phone that only makes calls, texts and takes photos so he can still engage with his friends via text, make plans, etc. He balked at first when we gave it to him, but he’s used to it now and it does the job of me being able to stay connected to him when we are away from each other. I don’t have to worry about him spending all his time on youtube, playing games and getting on social media.
Most of the friends who have smartphones are totally addicted to them. They have them out constantly (even when they are over here for dinner). I know some of their families think they have set limits with them but I am witnessing that this is not true (at least once they are out of their houses).
I know some families get Gizmos (those phone watch things that only dial 3 numbers). I know we want to stay connected to our kids when we or they aren’t home but these Gizmos and dumb phones totally do the job.
Here’s info about the Wait till 8th Pledge. Please feel free to forward.