Confessions of an Anti-Cell Phone Parent
Hello my name is Jessica Ann Kong and I am an anti-technology parent. I have been petrified to see the past few generations of children and adults become electronic zombies that seem to miss out on so much of the world. Especially if it isn’t being seen through the assortment of screens that are so prominent in this time. I have always told myself:
“No, I won’t allow my children to join this technology fad, especially at an early age.”
“No cell phones will be given to my children until high school.”
“There is no way that I will allow my kids to be exposed to harshness of the internet that could ruin their self-image or values.”
Well… here I am with a soon to be 6th grader and I have come to realize that as much as I want to protect him from the dangers that lurk in the unknown of the cyber world…the cyber bullies, predators, the over sexualized culture, the obscure body standards and the rest of the never-ending list of reason I am scared of allowing my children to have access to the cyber world… But it is how the world teaches, builds and communicates. I have allowed television and computers. I have dabbled with tablets but I have NEVER taken the leap into cell phones.
I am just a scared mom that has realized that I cannot hide my children from this technology and so I have decided to embrace it. Maybe not the traditional way but I am doing it.
Here are 4 things I have done to prepare myself and my children as we leap into the unknown territory of cell phones.
Limit Screen Time
We have only ever allowed 1 hour of screen time unless we are watching a movie together as a family. My youngest son has Autism and screen time can really over stimulate him and make the rest of the day very difficult to complete in a positive manner. We also implemented this limited screen time because it keeps us all accountable. It’s easy for me to get sucked into computer time too. This allows us to have meaningful family time but still indulge in technology.
As we have decided to jump into cell phones for our tween, we have decided that this limited time should still be observed. I have actually found this to be more difficult for me because I want to set a good example for my kids. There are no cell phones, TV, computers or anything allowed at the dinner table, family events (there are a few exceptions to this), or any other time we have designated as a no technology time.
Start with a Basic Phone
There is no real need for any child to have a super expensive or fancy phone. Children who are learning responsibilities of these items will probably run into a few bumps of either breaking or losing their phones. A $40 Cricket phone (which is what we chose for our son) is much easier to fix or replace than an $800 smart phone.
The cheap plans also make this a great option. We are paying $25/month (we enrolled in Auto pay and received a $5/month discount) We are holding our son accountable for the majority of his cell phone bill. He will pay us $5/week from his weekly allowance and he is responsible for repairing and damage or replacing the phone if it is necessary. It wouldn’t be very likely he could replace an iPHONE or Galaxy phone. and it defeats the purpose of him learning how to responsible if we did it for him.
Sign a Cell Phone Contract
This may seem a little weird but it is best to lay down all the ground rules and hold your child to a high standard. If you set the bar high it will stay there, if you set it low and try to move it, BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN! Changing standards, especially for children, can be extremely difficult for children. I am treading this line very carefully because I am setting the tone for my Autistic son.
There are several options and some really cute creative Cell Phone Contracts you can find through Pinterest but if you are interested in the one I used click the link here. It makes it perfectly clear that having a cell phone is a privilege and not something he is entitled to own.
Install Family Link
Family Link is a Google application that allows you to manage your child’s applications, watch their screen time, set a device bedtime and gives GPS location of the device. Family link allows you to create a family profile so you can watch multiple devices and children. The application is FREE and really gives you the control you need to make sure your child is being responsible and safe. There are a few other similar applications that offer services for a small fee too when they become necessary. Although I am a huge fan of Family Link, I am sad to say they only offer services until your child turns 13.
“When your child turns 13 (or the minimum age required for the creation of a Google Account absent parental consent in your country), they are eligible to manage their account on their own. If your child chooses to manage their Google Account, you will no longer have access to, or be able to exercise control over, it with Family Link. Before your child becomes eligible to manage their own Google Account, we will notify you and your child.”
I am hoping that utilizing these standards will allow my children to learn the proper rules of phone etiquette and learn how to be responsible with technology. Even though this is a big step, I think it is what’s best for our family right now. As my kids grow older, technology is becoming increasingly important for continued education and job security. It is better that we teach our children how to respect this technology than to allow them to wander the technology world alone.