"Mom, when can I get my own phone?"
This is a question that my son has asked me several times. I usually ask him why he wants his own phone, and he tells me he wants it to play a game or to use it to check traffic for me while we are in the car (he likes the Waze app). Very rarely does he mention that he wants it so he can call someone.
And, no matter what answer he gives me, my answer is usually the same: Most children his age don't need a phone and we can have the conversation again when he is older.
Like a lot of parents, I am waiting. I know that experts (whoever they are) say that you shouldn't give your child a phone until they are 13. And that makes sense, because that is technically the legal age for a lot of social media sites. But, I know a lot of parents have given their child a phone much earlier than that. So, I am waiting: I don't want my son to be the first child in his class with his own phone, but I don't want him to be the only kid in his class without one.
The smartphone - and all the social media apps it tends to bring - is a tricky subject. There is this great piece in The Atlantic outlining the correlations between the generation that has grown up with smartphone technology and its affect on their lives. The gist of the piece being that with smartphones, children no longer seek physical independence from their parents, suffer from loneliness more often and talk about their phones like they are an addiction.
That is not an easy article for any parent to read, even if it all turns out to be correlation and not causation. It does make me want to delay giving my son his first device for as long as possible.
What are the negative effects you've noticed from giving your child their own smartphone? Tell me in the comments.