why-not-to give-your-child-a-phone

7 Lies Your Child’s Phone Is Teaching Her

My daughter spent quite a bit of time on her phone over Christmas break. “What have you been looking at?” I asked her. “Videos of people sharing their Christmas haul. Sarah and I were showing each other what we got. Man, Dad, they must be rich!” Now I know Sarah and her family pretty well. And I know for a fact that they aren’t rich. But what we see on our smartphones only tells us part of the story. And a partial truth is essentially a lie. It’s a good reason why not to give your child a phone.

Smartphones do a great job of lying to our kids. Of course, I know they aren’t sentient. They aren’t actively lying. However, they do to communicate things to our kids that just aren’t true. Here are 7 lies your child’s phone is teaching her.

1. You can know everything.

In her book How to Break Up with Your Phone, Catherine Price says, “If ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to look at your phone.” In other words, your phone gives you access to almost any and all information, but information alone isn’t enough. Not only does information by itself not lead to happiness, it also doesn’t tell the whole story. Information received without context or relationship is simply data. It will never lead you to what matters more than information: wisdom.

What would it look like to focus on helping your child grow in wisdom?

2. You never need to be bored.

Stand in a grocery line or sit at a stop light for five seconds, and what do most of us instinctively do? We reach for the phone. We’ve trained ourselves to be entertained anywhere and everywhere (or our phones have trained us). However, we actually do need to be bored. Boredom gives us the space for creativity and attention. Boredom allows us to focus on the thing that is nagging at us and reflect and wrestle. Without boredom, we are more likely to live unexamined, uncreative lives. Your child needs to be bored.

How might you encourage reflective boredom for your kids?

3. Entertainment trumps privacy.

I was asking my daughter about what she was doing on her phone one day and she said she was checking out where all her friends were. Turns out they had an app that allowed them to share their location with anyone they were friends with just so they could see what everyone was doing at any given time. I was incredulous, but she just thought it was fun. More and more apps are providing features that are enhanced if you allow it to track your location. For an adult to make this calculated decision is probably fine. For a child whose frontal lobe is not fully formed, it’s foolish, and it’s a good reason why not to give your child a phone.

How might you have conversations with your child about her privacy?

4. You are the center of the universe.

Everything on your teen’s phone is curated for her: Playlists, videos, contact lists… Anything and everything she wants is at her fingertips. And posting videos or pictures that people like and comment on further underscores what she already thinks is true: Everything revolves around her. Developmentally, this is actually pretty normal for your child. The problem is how the phone reinforces this and makes it more difficult to outgrow She’ll need boundaries and encouragement to get outside of herself and serve others.

How might you encourage your teen to look up from her phone, and herself, to others?

5. You should always be available.

Your phone allows you to always be available to anyone who has your number or your handle or your email. This leads to that irritating phenomenon of your child being in a room full of people, and rather than engaging with them, she’s responding to a text or a DM. Not only is this constant state of being available unhelpful for your child personally, it makes it difficult for her to actually give her attention to the people she’s physically with.

How might you encourage your child to be strategically unavailable to her phone?

We need to look up from our phones.

6. The world is small.

The whole world exists in the palm of her hand. Anywhere she wants to go, anyone she wants to learn about, it’s all right there. But sometimes having it all right there means she’s not fully present wherever she is. I’ve found myself many times driving through beautiful scenery or an amazing skyline and telling my teens to put their phones down and actually look around. That’s yet another good reason why not to give your child a phone. We all need to gaze up at a waterfall, gawk out of an airplane window, or stare up at a night sky. We need a sense of our smallness and the wonder of the world around us. We need to look up from our phones.How might you encourage your child to look up from her phone at the world around her?

7. You’re always on the verge of irrelevance.

Just about the time your child is feeling good about the phone she has, a new one comes out with cooler features and different accessories. About the time she feels comfortable navigating the best social media platform, it gets overshadowed by a new one. It’s impossible to keep up with the pace of technology and to try makes your child (not to mention you) feel like she’s constantly on the verge of irrelevance. But you know what never becomes irrelevant? Love. Joy. Peace. Kindness. Gentleness. Patience. Goodness. Faithfulness. Self-control.

How might you help your kids value who they are becoming over engaging with the latest technology?

Sound off: What other lies is your child’s phone teaching her?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are some good things and some bad things about smartphones?”