Today's parents of children and young teens are the first parents in human history whose kids have known smart phones and tablets from infancy. The iphone came out in June of 2007. It has completely changed the way we gather information, relate, and spend our time.
A big question is "When do we get our child a phone?" Having recently outfitted our 13-year-old, I'll share our approach. I recognize that some will think we're too strict and others will think we're too loose. This is not meant to be law. My hope is simply that it's useful as you consider your own circumstance, whether you're a tween, parent, grandparent, or guardian.
We determined that age 13 was our threshold. Why thirteen? First, we know that once a child has a phone, there's no going back. We wanted her to live as long as possible without having to worry about the joys and ills of this device. Second, she sets a precedent for 3 siblings behind her.
Note: Not getting a phone until 13, our daughter was a great minority among her friends. Most got a phone between 10-12.
With a phone in hand, we determined that a covenant was critical. We needed to have a conversation about the rules up front. With a stated agreement from the start, we establish the boundaries that will guide her use of this machine, maybe for the rest of her life. It's hard to break habits once they're ingrained. We wanted to start with healthy habits.
Although we worked on the covenant together, she wrote it up. It's not exhaustive, and we anticipate that we'll keep working on it. Here are some of the stated expecations:
I anticipate a growing freedom as she gets older. She'll grow in maturity and we'll grow in our trust. But we believe in firm expectations up front. "You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube."
Eventually, she has to learn how to use the device appropriately on her own. We recognize that with each year, we have less control in our children's lives. The habits and values we instill early on will be the foundation she builds on for a lifetime.
So we draw clear lines. And we tell her the "why" behind the "what." We're not being mean or unfair. We're not trying to be weird (we already are). We don't want to snoop or be annoying.
We want her to be safe.
We want her to be human, not controlled by a machine.
We want her to be loved.
We want her to be a godly woman who blesses others and bears witness to her Lord.
Share your thoughts, practices, and experience with kids and technology.