On today’s episode of Digital Parenting Live, we address a question on whether a parent should get their kid a smartphone so that they can stay in touch with them.
Hey guys, welcome to Digital Parenting Live for May 10th. We are excited to have you guys join us. Now, we just a lot of great things happen here with Digital Parenting. So first we’ve had our live event, so our live event took place on May 4th, here in the Chattanooga area, had several hundred parents there just learning about how to integrate some of these Digital Parenting concepts into their family, through our Digital Parenting foundation. As an event it was great, you’re going to be able to get access in the weeks and months ahead to that content, which we’re going to be making available through our site, digitalparenting.com. So just stay tuned if that’s something that you’re interested in learning. If you want to figure out how to make this foundation for your family, so that you can get the benefits of technology without it harming your family, then this is something that you’re going to want to be interested in.
But today, like every day, we want to be able to get questions from you. First, let me go ahead and put up this reminder. If you want to send us questions, you can feel free to send those to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll get to your questions, we’ll answer as many of them as we can, because, again, we want to be able to give you some resources on how you can keep technology from harming your family.
Now, today’s question comes from an online viewer, and it’s this. “My 11 year old will be at home by himself on occasion, and also has more activities away from home. I want to be able to get in touch with him, so we’re planning to get him an Android phone. Are we making a mistake?”
So, I think this is a great question. By far the most common question I get is when is it okay to give my kid a phone? Now, there’s a couple of points I want to throw out here. One is not all phones are created equally. One of the problems I think that most parents have, because when they decide there’s a reason or them to get in touch with their child, so if they’re old enough that they can stay at home, or they’re on a sports team that has extended practices, or if they’re going to be going over to friends houses, or relatives houses quite a bit, they want the ability to be able to get in touch with them through calling or texting, or be able to use the GPS capabilities just to be sure they know where their child is.
I think all of those things are great, but here’s the problem. The problem is most parents, because when they walk into a Verizon, when they walk into an AT&T, they’re going to immediately go to full featured smartphones, something like an iPhone 8, or they’re going to be getting a Samsung Galaxy, or something. And so you’re turning around and giving your kid a full featured smart phone. Now, in many cases this is like your kid saying hey I need some butter at the table and you hand them a machete, right? You’re giving them a tool that’s far beyond the capabilities that they need.
In addition, it’s really beyond the capabilities they should even have access to, especially depending on their age. So here was one of the first things I would say. If you’re going into a Verizon, an AT&T, a T-Mobile, most all of them have other devices that you can use, that give you capabilities to get in touch with your phone. And we’ve seen other companies be able to come out with these as well, an example is the LG Gizmo Pal two, which is an actual wearable device that your kid can have. You’re actually able to call them and stay in touch with them, but they’re not able to call whoever they want, they’re not able to send pictures. So you’re able to put some boundaries in.
Another option here, if you’re not looking at those newer types of devices, you also can even go back to a more traditional flip phone, or what we call a feature phone, which most all the wireless providers still have. Now, there’s going to be some things you miss out with that, and those are not without their risks too, but what you are eliminating is you’re eliminating as many of the dangers that exist if you’re giving your child a full featured smart phone.
So again, we just urge parents here understand the risks, understand the dangers. You make the call on what is most appropriate for your child, but I would say this, unless your child is older, has exhibited a lot of responsibility and you’re willing to put the time in to learn how to put restrictions in to place, one of the worst things parents can do is they can give their child a full featured smart phone without any of the capabilities that are provided.
One of the school resource officers that I spoke with, it was actually featured in our live even in May 4th, said it this way, that it’s like your kid getting a license and you saying okay, go, go wherever you want. Do whatever you want, drive how fast you want. That’s in essence what we’re doing if we turn around and give our kids a full featured smartphone, or any full featured device, without understanding the risks that are associated with it.
So again, I hope this benefited you guys as parents. Again, just want to remind everybody you can find a lot of great resources on iPhone and Android use, in terms of how to be able to lock down theses phones to some extent, if you do already have those in your house. You can find those at digitalparenting.com. Just click on the blog title at the top, and look for Digital Parenting Minute over on the sidebar, and from there you’ll be able to see all the 24 different episodes that we have, which cover a lot of common use cases. So be sure to check those out.
Thank you guys again for joining us here for Digital Parenting Live on May 10th, and we will see you guys next week.