< 1 min read
My 7-year-old daughter has been asking for a smartphone nonstop and claiming to miss her friends once she gets home from school. I suspect one of her close friends recently got one.
I feel she’s too young to get a phone, but her dad sees no issue as long we regulate it. I’m tempted to give in and get this cheap phone they sell at Target for peace to reign in the house. But I have to set some ground rules.
Would you insist it be on speaker or in front of you to monitor? How often should she be allowed on the phone? Once a day? Once a week? 5 minutes or 20? How do I ensure she’s only using it for purposes of keeping in touch with friends?
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7 is pretty young but we just got our 10 year old daughter a Space Talk watch and its amazing. It has a school day function that shuts it down so she can't use it during school hours and then she has several programmed numbers into the watch that she can phone or text. The grandparents have LOVED getting little text messages and phone calls from her and it has also been great for staying in touch when she is out and about or at a friends house or something. We love it.
I don't think it is necessary for a 7 year-old to have a smartphone, but a basic phone that can make and receive calls and send text messages would allow her to talk to her friends for a few minutes each day after school. Think back to when you were that age - were you allowed to call your friends on the landline, and were there any rules? In our house, the phone was in the living room and our calls could be no longer than 5 minutes. We also had the opportunity to answer incoming calls and to talk to our grandparents when they called.
Kids these days do not learn proper phone etiquette because they spend most of their time texting or sending voice notes. If you give your daughter access to a phone (even if it's your phone) you will have the opportunity to teach her not only about good "phone manners" but also to start the conversation about online safety. This is so important as it will ensure that when she is old enough to have her own smartphone she will know how to keep her personal information private and protect herself in social media spaces.
Seven seems to be pretty young for a phone. Maybe in a year or 2, she can start to talk on the phone with friends without actually having her own phone. Do you still have a home landline phone? Giving out a home phone number to a friends mother may help to solve this problem, as long as there are guidelines like 5-minute calls and only once on a weekend, etc.
Another way to get around this dilemma is for the kids to sign up for messenger or other online calling platforms where they can see each other and the parent can monitor all interactions. Talking by herself in her bedroom should be strictly out for this young age.
Ugh! The teen years are just around the corner.
My son is 8 and he doesn't own a phone, we don't plan on buying one until he turns 10. He is allowed calls (supervised or unsupervised) as long as he's not spending over 10 minutes on each one - he prefers the speaker himself so that hasn't really be a problem. He's also a geek, shy around people so his phone time hasn't really been an issue for us. I don't think there's a right and wrong here.