Have you noticed that a lot of kids are walking around with smartphones these days? Almost every single person in the big kids' classes have them. Not to mention all of the kids in the younger grades.
Much to my teens' chagrin, they have dumb phones, and there is no chance of them getting anything else.
There are a plethora of reasons for this lack of pocket technology as far as my kids go. I'll let you in on the top three reasons.
Kids and teens have very little sense.
It's the way their brains are made. Even the brightest, most well-behaved kid will make dumb mistakes. I am not about to give my child a device which has serious potential to help him make dumb mistakes which can cause great harm to himself or others. Kids I know have taken video of their teachers and put it on Instagram in the middle of class. I know kids who have sent nude photos of themselves to each other, and those photos have been sent to a hundred other kids. Kids have been suspended because of tweets they have sent.
My kids have iPods. They can take videos. They can text their friends. However, they have to have Wifi in order to do so. They may make a choice to take an embarrassing video of someone while they are at a football game, but they then have to wait until they get home to post it. That extra time can make a huge difference in the decision making.
I can't stress it enough. In the heat and "fun" of the moment, bad things can happen. Kids and teens are severely lacking in their ability to predict consequences, both because mob mentality takes away brain cells, but also because they don't have the life experience to be able to foresee trouble. If the child has even just a few minutes between the idea and the execution, he has time to realize the error of his (or his friend's) idea.
I need to be able to take the devices away from them.
My kids get slide phones the Christmas of their 8th grade year. Before this age, my kids are never without adult supervision, so a phone of any kind isn't necessary. Once they graduate 8th grade, they have more freedom. Mostly it's at the high school, where the campus is open and the teens are encouraged to hang out after school and before practices. They may even walk to a nearby store to grab a snack. The phone is for my convenience and their safety. That's it. If soccer practice plans change, they can text me. If my plans for the afternoon changes, I can text them to let them know where I need them and when. If they are on a bike ride, they can call if someone gets hurt.
A smartphone isn't just a phone. For most kids, it is used to play games and post photos or videos. My kids sometimes break the rules of iPod use. When that happens, the iPods are taken away. If they had smartphones and broke a rule, the phone would be getting confiscated along with the game system. In effect, I'd be punishing myself, too. I'm not a fan of making my life more difficult by punishing myself. I want the phone separate from the games.
My kids can't afford them.
My kids don't have jobs until they are old enough to ref soccer games, and even then, they aren't working year-round. They don't even get an allowance. Put simply, they don't have the funds to purchase a phone and pay for the service plan.
We can afford to give our kids smartphones. We have enough money to give them a lot of things. We choose not to, though, because we don't think it will help them in the future.
From the examples I've seen, many "kids" move back in with their parents after college because they don't know how to be poor.
I'm going to go all granny on you here for a minute. Back in the day...
When Bryan and I were first married, we weren't broke, but we weren't well off. We had school loans to pay, I was only working temp jobs, and Bryan had an entry level computer programmer job with a salary to match. After 6 months, we were very fortunate to get moved to Bermuda, where we lived in the lap of luxury for 7 months. And then it all came crashing down.
Bryan entered law school.
For three years we lived in a roach-infested, 4th floor (with no elevator), cinder block, ancient student housing apartment. Per the school's rules, he wasn't allowed to work, and I had yet to get a teaching job. I was subbing during the day and decorating cakes at Kroger at night and on weekends. We were completely broke. When I finally got a teaching job the second year, we celebrated my $17,000/year salary. Celebrated big! By going to Fazoli's (a cheap, fast-food "Italian" place) for dinner.
I want the same for my kids.
I want them to be poor. I want their apartments to be filled with odd bits of 20 year old furniture given to them by aunts who are redoing their living rooms. I want them to eat Salisbury steak three days in a row and live in a crappy apartment.
I want them to be poor as a stepping stone. I want them to work their way up the ladder to not being poor. I want them to appreciate what they've done and what they have. I want them to learn perseverance and gain the confidence that only hard work can teach.
I want them to be poor so they know what it feels like. When they are no longer poor, I want them to remember what it was like in order to better help those who still are.
I am not going to saddle them with the notion that they HAVE to have all sorts of things in order to be happy. My kids do not have closets filled with designer clothes and several pairs of shoes from which to choose. I am not going to hand them expensive smartphones, which they will immediately deem necessary for the rest of their lives, and then tell them, "It's your turn to pay!" when they move out on their own. If they don't have one handed to them, they won't become dependent on it. They can use the money they would normally spend on the phone for food. Or rent. Or insurance.
Or a phone. I'm pretty sure they'll all be pretty quick to buy themselves smartphones once they get incomes.
But they'll be the ones buying them.
Which is pretty much the point.
Choosing this path has not been easy. Teens aren't exactly happy to be different from their peers. But I just can't, in good conscience, buy them. I cannot come up with a single, solitary reason (besides making my kids temporarily thrilled) to make such a purchase, so I won't.
(And thankfully, Bryan agrees with me, so he won't either.)
What are your thoughts? Clearly, I'm in the minority. Why did you get smart phones for your kids (if you did)? I'm sure my kids would love you forever if you talked me into them. :)
Have a lovely day!
Loved reading this! We haven't had to make this decision yet, but the day is coming. Love the photo of your son holding his dumbphone. Haha.ReplyDelete
That photo cracks me up every time I see it. Two years ago for Halloween as Jake, Jake from State Farm. This was taken while he was dressed in his costume.Delete
What a wonderful sense of values you have, and a parenting wisdom beyond your years. If I had kids the same age as yours they wouldn't be getting smart phones either, for many of the same reasons. I wish more of today's parents were like you :)ReplyDelete
I don't know if "beyond my years" fits. I've been taking care of kids since I was a kid myself, and I'm solidly in my forties. I would hope I learned a few things by then. :)Delete
I think a lot of people end up giving their kids their old phones when the adults get an upgrade. It probably only costs them a little extra per line, so money isn't even the issue. They don't really think about it, is all. My son might buy himself a smartphone (they only cost $50) now that he is headed off to college, as they ARE sort of essential these days for an adult. But he will be responsible for paying for minutes or data or whatever. The teens in our house have dumb phones. I agree, it is sort of crazy to give them the Internet in their pockets. On the other hand, my friend plans to give her daughter one, because she wants her to have access to Internet for bus/train schedules and delays. She says she can monitor what apps are put on the phone (i.e., no SnapChat, etc), so it shouldn't make a difference. I do agree that it is better for the kids to start off counting their pennies - that way, when they do have extra money, they will hopefully be wiser about how to spend it.ReplyDelete
I think you're right. Many parents do it because it doesn't cost much when they upgrade without thinking. I just wish more parents would think about things they do, regardless of the decision they come to. Thinking needs to happen.Delete
I have no trouble with an adult buying a smartphone, including my own. I kind of expect it, really, as long as they can afford them.
As for your friend, she's going into it by making a decision, not just doing it because she can and it's not too much money. There are some reasons for giving a smartphone to a teen. If there was a reason to give one to my kids, I'd consider it. Too bad for them, there isn't. :)
I appreciate your thoughts on this. I'm always filing posts like this away in the back of my head for when the time comes around here....ReplyDelete
And by then, there will be something new to worry about. :/ Technology is changing so fast, it's hard to keep up!Delete
I'm glad you found it useful.
My kids are grown, but I didn't let them have whatever they wanted either. I see that happening a lot these days. I say you're the parents and you decide what they can have and what they can't. Good for you.ReplyDelete
Have a fabulous day. ☺
I had the feeling you'd be a parent who stuck to her guns, even if it went against the norm. :)Delete
Some of my kids do have smartphones, but that's because they are living independently, and foot the bill themselves. They've survived the teen years, and are young adults. I'm with you on the smartphone decision.ReplyDelete
Yeah, once they are adults footing their own bills, I'm not really going to have an opinion on the matter. :)Delete
My oldest is only 13, so it's hard to say what we will do in 5 years, but she doesn't have a phone at all now, I can't imagine ever buying her a smartphone. We really can't afford it. So far ,we have a few extra tracfones that keep around if necessary (plus we don't have a landline at home).ReplyDelete
I'm interested about your idea that you want your kids to be poor. I lived on my own as a graduate student, living off a 14,000/yr fellowship and I didn't feel poor at all. I was never a spendy person anyway, but I certainly didn't feel poor. As a single person, I could eat off 40/week and share an apartment with friends so pay rent of like 250/month. I lived simply, but I wouldn' say that I was poor....I never had to scrounge for money to buy food, I could afford to eat out way more then than I can now. I never worried about money. Honestly, I would say that we were way more poor last year, as a family of 6, living in an expensive cost of living area and my husband making 50,000/year than I was as a single grad student making 14,000/year in a cheap cost of living area. Now, we are really and truly poor since my husband is trying to get a business off the ground and I would NEVER wish this in my children. Never in a million years. I really hope they never have to go through the stress and heartache and struggle of being really poor and trying to hustle side jobs and figuring out how to pay bills . I fully expect them to go through "young adult, single person, small apartment, used furniture being poor" but I hope (as adults) they never have to be really, and truly poor .
I know lots of people who have given up the land lines, so cell phones of some kind are necessary.Delete
When Bryan was in law school, that first year was tough. We had used every bit of our savings to pay off the car, my school loan, and as much of his law school tuition as we could. After Christmas, we were really worried about how we were even going to pay our $380 rent. Schools don't need many subs leading up to and right after Christmas (not to mention the 2 week break when schools are closed altogether), and cake sales drop, too, so our income was almost non-existent. We were saved by my grandma, although she didn't know it. My grandpa had died earlier in the year, and she surprised each of us grandkids with $1,000 from his life insurance.
When our kids move out on their own, that is when I want them to be poor. I want them to have to give serious thought to how they spend the little money they have early in their adult lives for all the reasons I gave above, but also because no one knows what the future holds. At any point in their lives, situations can change and they can go from well-off to poor in a matter of months. That alone is scary, but when children are involved, it can be petrifying. I don't want my kids to have to endure such a thing, but it could happen. If they had never had to dig themselves out when they were young adults, a life-change like that could be immensely more difficult. Having done it once, they will be far more prepared to do it again.
I will be praying for you and your family through the transition you are now in. If there is anything else I can do, please let me know. (You aren't that far away.)
My 16 year old earned his smart phone with awesome grades--he's old for his grade, about to be a sophomore. He got his pretty late in contrast to his pals, and we monitor his use. The 12 year old has his brother's hand me down flip phone, he's super social and we need it for logistical reasons. He inherited his brothers hand me down ipod, too. The 10 year old has none of these things. We have a family ipad they can use liberally, but even the ipod is a computer of sorts, they can do anything with an ipod that they can do with a smartphone. The difference between those devices is basically a data plan.ReplyDelete
And yes, kids become smarter about money when they figure out the whole earning, saving, budgeting, spending and giving them everything does not help them become good managers. I wholeheartedly agree.
The monitoring the use is a big thing, too. I am able to keep up with monitoring the big kids' use of their iPods. I don't think I could with the phones, where they would have them at all times of the day and use them at all times of the day. If I can't monitor it, they can't have it.Delete
Funny how different kids use their phones, isn't it? Buttercup texts people ALL the time. The boys...not so much. Their phones are basically used to find out about practices and games.
luckily we didnt have the SMART phone issue when my kid was growing up it was just wether or not to get him a phone...which his grandparents did without asking... beware the grands!ReplyDelete
Oh, the grands! Fortunately, we have parents that are all about being completely and utterly fair. Whatever they do for one, they do for all. No way any of them would go down the path of getting six kids phones. :)Delete
I've coached kids with nicer phones than mine. My oldest two have smartphones, but with no data. I hope that extra time and effort they have to go through to post something makes a difference, as you say. Plus, they don't have poker faces. If they're looking at something they wouldn't want me to see, they telegraph it. Shh.ReplyDelete
My daughter is asking if she can buy a smartphone without data. She wants to be able to get the group texts and photos her friends send to her. I haven't looked into it, though.Delete
I won't say a word. :)
This has been nagging at me for awhile and your post really made me take the time to discuss this with my husband. We gave our oldest daughter my old iphone when I got a new one, she's 15. It made our bill jump up quite a bit and she is prone to texting a lot. She is very responsible and studious, but we have see some of her classmates get into a lot of trouble. We are thinking of switching to a "dumb" phone for her and having a family ipad and we also have a couple of ipods that should give everyone their "outlet" at home. Thanks for prompting me to do what we have been thinking of doing for awhile. These kids need things to look forward to and work for!ReplyDelete
Thank you for coming back and letting me know. I'll be praying for you if/when you take her smart phone back. I can't imagine she'll be too happy about it. :)Delete
Your comment about needing something to look forward to reminded me of something. I once told a friend about a family I know in which the father always gives his daughter a dozen roses for Valentine's Day and other extravagant gifts. My friend said, "I feel sorry for that girl's future husband." Made me think. Don't know why I felt the need to share that here. :)
I love this! My oldest finally got a "smartphone" at Christmas time, but we have a fair amount of control over his phone due to advancements in technology. Our service allows us to monitor him well. He was probably almost the only kid who didn't have a phone, yet it was never a problem. He always got a hold of me if needed. My younger kids are like yours where they have devices and can text etc. with wifi. I haven't see any negative repercussions of their "old school" parents. If anything, they are more motivated to work (pay for their phone etc.) and more innovative. It works for me!!ReplyDelete
Whenever one of my kids made some comment like if practice ends early, I won't have a way to tell you, I would tell him to borrow a teammate's phone to call me. :)Delete
Exactly. Old school works quite well for us, too.
Great post, Christine. Your reasoning is on point. It reminds me of a quote I heard - "Parents today are so busy giving their kids what they never had, they forget to give them what they did have." Like values. We moved into our current house 25 hears ago. The living room and dining room were empty of furniture for a very long time until an Aunt gave us some old pieces. It was years and years before I bought my white couch and dining room furniture. I so appreciate that white couch - it was worth waiting for.ReplyDelete
I had heard that quote before. It is a good one.
When someone has to do the math and calculate how many work hours it would take to purchase something, that something is far more appreciated. For sure.
really applaud you for this - I succumbed to the pressure recently with my 13 year old - just couldn't hold off any longer, wishing I had your stamina now, it is very difficult to get it off himReplyDelete
Thank you. It has been said that I'm a very stubborn person. :)Delete
really applaud you for this - I succumbed to the pressure recently with my 13 year old - just couldn't hold off any longer, wishing I had your stamina now, it is very difficult to get it off himReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. My oldest is only 4, but my husband and I are already have diacussions about the future like keeping the computer in a public place in our house so we can monitor its use. My brother is 11 years younger than me (so the phone thing was an issue for my parents with him even though it wasn't an issue when I was a kid), and my parents held off on getting him a phone even though all his friends had one. Hopefully as these issues come up we can find the right solution for our family.ReplyDelete
It's smart to start discussions early. It will make things so much easier when your children get into these situations, especially if you or your husband isn't home when it comes up.Delete
Technology changes so fast. Who knows what issues we'll have to deal with when our little kids are high school age? Praying and putting thought to it will be necessary, for sure.
Thank you for stopping by and giving me your thoughts!
great post something to think about...around here its peer pressure. but I am so angry that parents are the ones that feel the pressure. wouldn't it have been great if when little johnny seed said to his parents can i have a smart phone peter piper has one, the parent said no way .. both my kids have phones (yes smart phones) and I curse the day i agreed, truthfully it was not my idea. We monitor their texts constantly and always reminding them to do the right thing. Daughter's phone was just turned on and has very limited data or service ...but after reading your post I need to make some changes. You are absolutely right kids don't think at all. thanks for the reminderReplyDelete
I bought my daughter a smart phone to make her happy. It was a hand down from her older sister. She loves it. She may beg for the latest gadget, but I will not give in. She spends so much time on her computer. Today, we are going to spend time together. I love that you want to teach your kids the value of love and caring more for others and not things.ReplyDelete
This is fantastic - wise and practical and right along with the way the Hub and I think. Again, I love that such a smart mom as you feels much as we do about such things.ReplyDelete