It’s no secret that there’s a lot to consider when deciding whether or not to get your kid a phone. When my own daughter first asked if she could have one, I yo-yoed in my response.
“You don’t need a phone!” was quickly followed with, “Wait, do you need a phone?” And even more embarrassingly by, “What is everyone else doing?!”
Maybe you can relate.
Today I want to share what I’ve learned about why your elementary or middle schooler should, indeed, get a phone based on what we know about teaching and learning.
Both of my parents were teachers. For my entire childhood, they came home with chalk hand prints on their pants and piles of papers to grade.
I studied Human Development and Education, volunteering in first grade classrooms while my peers spent their afternoons relaxing on the quad and working at the gym. I became a classroom and reading teacher for a decade or so, taking ridiculous pleasure in penciled-in lesson plan books and piles of prepped construction paper projects.
All of this is to say that I get really excited about well-argued teaching theories, cutting edge earning methods, and what really and truly makes learning stick.
But I promise not to lose sight of what’s really important here. What I want to focus on today (catch that teacher speak?) isn’t educational theory or even parenting theory. I want to focus on what’s best for our kids.
We are the first generation of parents and educators raising digital kids without having been digitally oriented as kids ourselves. This means that we can’t rely on what we were taught, because no one taught us!
And the Internet, while filled with amazing opportunities and chances to be creative, connected, and to use our voice, can also be dangerous.
So here’s why – not despite, but because all of that – I recommend that you let your kids get a phone when at a younger age than may be typical.
Our kids are exactly the same, except the Internet gives them access to a whole array of mistakes to make that we never had at our impulsive fingertips.
I know in my educationally sound heart-of-hearts that a kid making small mistakes with guidance and help from her parents at age 10, is going to be far better off than a peer who’s given free social media rein at age 13.
As for my own daughter, she did end up getting a phone at age 10, and we fumbled through its use together.
Today, at almost 13, she has better social media habits than most adults I know. She also thinks that we “talk about this stuff” at home just a little too much.
For the record, I am 100 percent okay with that.