My wife and I always said that when our kids got to junior high school, we would talk about getting them a cell phone. Well, this past summer was our time, and we had to make a choice whether to hand our son a phone. After talking through all the safeguards, we then shifted the conversation to his responsibility level. Can he actually handle having the phone, take care of it, and make wise choices? Our answer to these questions was a resounding yes, so here we go.
He has had his phone for a while now, and we have seen some great benefits. We didn’t realize how often we needed to communicate with him quickly, and with his phone, we are all on the same page. However, having his phone has shown us some things we didn’t foresee before we gave it to him. Here are 3 warnings for dads before giving kids cell phones.
1. Digital addiction is real.
This is not just for kids. We all know adults who are addicted to the phones in their hands. But for kids, we have to set up boundaries for them because they probably won’t do that themselves and an addiction can cause ripples in other areas of their lives. Poor sleep habits have a direct connection to excessive screen time. Decreased physical activity can occur if we allow our kids to spend more time on their phones than being active. We should establish clear rules and boundaries. Using normal rhythms, such as mealtime and bedtime, are easy ways to attach limits. Encouraging kids to balance their digital interactions with real-world activities and social interactions is crucial to preventing digital addiction.To counter comparison, we must teach our kids how to be content.
2. Kids misunderstand the real world.
My son shared with me about a YouTuber who gives away thousands of dollars to random strangers. He then followed it up by making a statement that we should do this at our local grocery store—as if it were something that everyone could do. Being sucked into what kids find online via their phones, especially influencers who are manufacturing their lives for social media, leaves our kids with little understanding of the real world. It is our job to help our kids understand what’s actually realistic.
3. Comparison intensifies.
Kids’ cell phones are bombarded with images and videos pulling for their time and attention, leaving them wanting the next shiny thing and to become like the people they see online. To counter comparison, we must teach our kids how to be content. The key for my house in being content is helping them to be grateful. When comparison pops up, I always ask my kids, “What are you thankful for?” This question forces them to examine their lives through what they do have instead of the things they don’t have.
Sound off: What are some other warnings before giving kids cell phones?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are the benefits of having a phone, and what are the potential downsides?”