Parents against smartphones

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My daughter and friends boogie boarding before any had smart phones.

Fifty-three percent of American children have a smartphone of their own by age 11, according to a 2019 report by Common Sense Media. By the time they’re 16, 89 percent of kids have one. An earlier report by Common Sense Media found that 50 percent of teenagers felt addicted to their smartphones and that 59 percent of their parents thought that was the case. All of this has coincided with a startling increase in mental health challenges among adolescents, which some psychologists believe might be tied to the adverse effects of social media use.

That quote came from an article in the Washington Post called “Meet the parents who refuse to give their kids smartphones” by Ellen McCarthy.

It was an interesting read to see how the children felt about not being allowed to have a smartphone. In some instances they were the only person in their school without one. The parents gave them a phone that didn’t have internet access but they could use to text and call. One child was so embarrassed with that type of phone, they never got it out at school.

One mother who refused to let her children have smartphones was a psychiatrist who treats high school and college students. She said her patients were on their smartphones nine hours a day or more — more than they sleep.

I agree with WHY the parents didn’t want their kids to have smartphones, but I’m not sure in today’s world if I could do it. My kids had childhoods without cell phones. My son didn’t get his iphone until high school graduation. My daughter got hers earlier and there was a lot of bullying going on. Also, I remember this thing on Instagram my daughter showed me where young girls were posting pictures of their thigh “gaps.” It was a body image competition that probably boosted anorexia.

By the end of eighth grade, Annalise Stacey was the only one in her class without a smartphone. And her mom’s spiels about how bad the devices are for kids’ brains didn’t make that much easier.

If her friends decided to hang out after school or on a weekend, they would make plans via group text. When she went to sleepovers, she often ended up watching other girls scroll on their phones. Annalise, who is now 15, sometimes didn’t know what her classmates were talking about because gossip had been exchanged over text or social media.

“I was frustrated just because I’m more of a shy person, so I felt like I was definitely getting left out of things and I didn’t really know how to get included.”

What are your thoughts? Would you be a parent against smartphones, even if your child felt left out? At what age did your kids get smartphones?

22 thoughts on “Parents against smartphones

  1. I don’t like kids having smart phones when they’re under 12. My daughter had a flip phone when she was ten, but really only because there weren’t any smart phones. However, I don’t know what I would do if I had a young kid now…

    • Exactly. I bought my kids pre paid flip phones when they went off to camp at USC in Los Angeles at around 10 and 13. I’m thankful I don’t have young kids now!

      • Exactly. I don’t know how I’d feel about a ten year old with a smart phone. But I do know in high school my daughter used her smart phone in class for things, so there’s that…

      • The article I mentioned brought up the school issue. I remember when my daughter was 10, one of her friends mom bought her daughter an iphone. The mom was recently divorced and the dad was furious. He didn’t want his daughter to be exposed to all the garbage.

  2. My kids grew up well before smart phones and constant connection to the internet. They got very basic flip phones when they began driving. I’ve never been a parent who ran out to get their kids the latest new item just because, but I did spend a lot of time educating them on why I wasn’t that sort of parent as well.

  3. I resisted getting the kids phones until they were 16. I mean, we didn’t even have internet in the house until they were in junior high and the teachers would start giving them things to research online. I was really mad about that.

    • School was an issue mentioned in that article. Teachers would have students take photos with their phones of homework assignments. What happened to writing them down?

  4. I am all for the Flip phones, at whatever age you think your child is independent, Here is the difference between my childhood (I am in my 60’s) and now: No pay phones. When I went out, I always had a dime ( eventually a quarter) on me so that should something bad happen, I could call someone; parents, siblings, grandparents…someone. Today, Kids do not have that option. Finding a cell phone is pretty much right up there with finding an albino T-Rex. So, for at least the sake of connectivity, flip phones replace phone booths. Smart phone? Sure, right after they get a job, pay for it AND the monthly service charges.

  5. I’m glad that I will never have to make this decision. Being part of the crowd is so important at that age and I had never thought about how many arrangements are probably made via text. On the other hand, social media can be such a negative force. I definitely think they need to be at least partially responsible for the costs associated.

  6. At the elementary school I work in, I am proud to say that the only smart phones I see are on the staff and we communicate often to one another through texts as the school is big. Now, when they placed me in the 4th grade, teaching small reading groups I did see a kid hide a phone in his desk. But now with the kindergarten-first graders, never a cell phone. I do see candy nearby.

    • That’s good to hear. I know some of my kids high school teachers would put all the phones in a bowl or bucket at the beginning of class. Too much cheating and too many distractions.

  7. My oldest daughter didn’t get one until the middle of the 8th grade. In sixth grade, though, my youngest got one. Still, they are eight years apart in age. They are both pretty responsible about how they use their phones, but I agree that once they get phones, things will change. But my youngest is now in the eighth grade and only has TikTok. She hasn’t shown much interest in social media yet, which is good.

    • Smartphones weren’t around much when my kids were the ages your kids got phones. They are 25 and 28. My oldest seems better for not growing up with instagram, etc.

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