Written by Dr. Mark
While scrolling my Facebook news feed I came across this article: http://todaysmama.com/2017/05/bill-gates-cell-phone-rules/
The article talks about at what age kids should get their first cell-phone, and references what Bill Gates chose to do with his family. According to the article Bill and his wife chose to wait until their kids were 14 years old before allowing a cell phone and still had some rules to go with it. This idea interests me because I have 3 kids, Micah – 7, Elijah – 8, and Ayva – 10, getting close to that age. My daughter has already asked for one, just a few times in passing, not a very serious effort on her part to wear us down yet, but I know that’s coming as she sees more and more of her friends with them. She already has my wife’s old phone, but with no phone service. So it’ll work on wifi, and I set her up with an icloud account so she can iMessage me, her mom, and grandparents for now. We’ve kept a close watch on her usage and she doesn’t seem to use it too often, I’ll find it around the house a lot, so it hasn’t become glued to her, or her to it.
Bill Gates says:
“We don’t have cell phones at the table when we are having a meal, we didn’t give our kids cell phones until they were 14, and they complained other kids got them earlier,”
“We often set a time after which there is no screen time and, in their case, that helps them get to sleep at a reasonable hour.
“You’re always looking at how it can be used in a great way – homework and staying in touch with friends – and also where it has gotten to excess.”
I like the no phones at the table rule, and I know we plan on not allowing our kids to have them in their rooms at night, something we already have in place with my daughter Ayva.
The article goes on to say that the average age for a child to receive a cell phone in the United States is now 10.3 years old. That seems pretty young to me, but I also think it depends on the need. A few girls on my daughter’s soccer team have them, but I think the girls that do also have other activities and their parents aren’t always there, so being able to contact them easily can definitely come in handy.
Another concept this article touches on, is the purpose of the phone, or type. I think we all assume a phone as being a smart phone now, but the author is suggesting that a child’s first phone should be a “dumb” one, that can only call and text. “So they can make a conscious decision to seek out entertainment, instead of having it at their finger tips as a reflex.” Like the phone pictured above, this was my first phone, which I got when I turned 16 and got my drivers license. My parents (mom really) felt better about me having a phone so I could call for help if I ever needed. As simple as this phone was, I sure enjoyed playing snake, a lot of snake.Pulling out a phone is an easy way to excuse yourself from an uncomfortable situation, to avoid real social interaction, maybe that is a stretch, but I know I’ve been guilty of doing this myself.
I think phones can be a very useful tool, but there can be a lot of harm with them. I don’t plan on touching on any of those negative affects here, I think most of us have seen articles talking about how bad they can be and what they can connect us to. So I’m putting this out there to hopefully get some advice from you, those of you with older kids.
What do you think? What age did you get your kids their first phone? What were some of the rules you had? What worked and what didn’t? Any must have apps to monitor/keep the kids safe. If you’re reading on Facebook feel free to leave a comment and if you are reading here at the office, well just tell us.