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!