Phones and Freedom

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Modern parents have to deal with a new set of boundaries.  The Internet and cell phones, among other advances, provide a new form of freedom.  This technology can be an excellent way to keep tabs on your children, but also can cause concern.

Phones and Activities

Kids are getting access to cell phones at younger ages every year.  This popularity adds pressure to join the crowd.  However, it also makes schools more likely to require mobile access.  I have been asked to text y child to come pick up a lunch or other item at the front desk.  However, that means a child is singled out when they don’t have such a device.  Sometimes it also leads to awkward stares from the staff.

On the practical side, it is much more useful to provide a child with a phone if they have any activities.  The phone can provide a way to call when a practice is over or communicate during field trips.  A cell phone is also great when the kids are running around the neighborhood.  However, it is even better when your child can tie up their phone on a long conversation.

Find My Phone

As safety goes, the “find my phone” feature of iPhones and similar devices can be highly valuable.  A phone can be a nice security feature in many situations.  A child can contact help in a bad situation or be tracked via their phone.  This is a nice way to feel more secure about where your child is and where they are headed.

New Freedom

Unfortunately, there is also a downside to a personal phone.  Unless you keep track of where they have it, they can sneak away to talk to their friends at any time.  Even worse, they can text and hold conversations continuously, which can make it even harder to get them to join in on family conversations.  There is also the non-stop distraction capability of a phone.  We all know how bad FaceBook and similar sites can be for time wasting.  Modern phones are worse as they add games, time killers, and multiple avenues for discussion and distraction.  Personally, I doubt would have passed a single class in school if I had something so distracting available.

The Bottom Line

Finally, we come to the bottom line.  The cost of a phone per child can become too much.  Even with unlimited texting and calls, there are overages and general phone plans that add up.  I recommend family plans that can reduce your overall costs.  However, I also think that a phone pool works great.  Provide a phone or two for the kids to use as they need them, but that can be handed to others at any time.  This approach reduces some of the distractions and uses of the phone outside of a communication device.  It also can reduce your need for a large number of contracts to cover all those phones.

Modern technology is great.  However, as with anything, a little consideration and planning go a long way.  Think about the overall impact of giving your child a personal phone.  There is good and bad to consider.  Unfortunately, it is sort of like letting a genie out of the bottle once you give them one.

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