ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE AND SMARTPHONES
One question that keeps coming up again and again is "Is it 'fair' to delay smartphone ownership for younger siblings, when my older child received a smartphone in 6th grade?"
"I say no because I love you." Parenting is hard. Saying no is hard. But this is important. We know the dangers of smartphone ownership, social media and unrestricted internet access. Not totally convinced, read this.
"I know it's hard to understand but I am making this change because I need to protect you and keep you safe." The reality is sometimes the rules change. They have changed before and they are changing now. Children need to learn that parents are in charge because we have their best interests in mind. We are here to protect them and care for them and make sure they are living healthy lives. Because we love them madly. And if that means we change the rules, we change the rules.
"Sometimes the rules change because we have new information." Over the last several decades, we've seen the dangers of smoking - first during pregnancy and then in general - and changed the rules. We wear helmets when we bike and ski. We strap our kids into car seats and wear our seatbelts. We eat better foods. We practice mindfulness. We learn and we adapt. This is no different.
"Let's talk about social media, internet access and smartphones." This is also important: Delaying smartphone ownership doesn't stop the conversation. It is vital that you be open with your children and share information about the dangers and distractions of smartphones whether you sign the Promise or not. What are your family's values and how do those values come through when we use technology? One day they will have a smartphone and it is important that they understand the responsibilities and risks. Read articles together, listen to podcasts, model smartphone etiquette, encourage them to get involved with the movement.
"You're not alone. It's cool to be in control of yourself and not be controlled by technology." We have designed Turning Life On to include a public promise so parents can share with their children that other families have also taken a Promise and decided to wait. Assure them that they are not alone. Classmates and friends are following the same path and waiting until the right age to receive a smartphone. Information is power. And there is so much out there that supports this decision. It is in the best interest of your child. And it is never too late to make a change.