Why I said no when my young child asked for a smartphone

My eldest son is nearly six.

I know, I can’t quite believe it either.

And he asked me the other day when he would be old enough to get a phone.  Would his sixth birthday be the right time?

And I know, I definitely didn’t believe that came out of his mouth.

So no.  On his sixth birthday he will not be unwrapping a smartphone.  He will still only be allowed limited access to MY smartphone.  And I will continue to try and wrap him up in bubblewrap away from the terror that is technology.

Because the question is, where would I stop?

In fact, maybe the question should be where do I begin?

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How young is too young?

Technology is rapidly advancing.  I mean, how long ago was it that we had bricks for mobile phones and that *sound* when you connected to the internet?

And now, you can watch videos on the internet in your pocket.  The cameras have advanced so we live in a world of selfies and instant gratification instead of those disposable cameras that I used to cart everywhere.  If we don’t know something it takes me about 30 seconds to google it.  News spreads like wildfire, good and bad, through all mediums.

Our world is rapidly shrinking as we enable an access all areas pass in the form of smartphones.

And my son wants one.

Then so will my youngest.

And it’s up to me to police them, to say no, to explain why.

In a world where technology is used everywhere

From home to school.  It is everywhere we look.  It’s normal life, my son expects people to have phones.  Is waiting with bated breath for the day when he gets his hands around his very own phone.

A portal to the outside world, and with it all the worries that come from internet access.

Stranger danger.

Cyber bullying.

Social media.

Inappropriate web content.

Racking up hefty phone bills.

To name but a few worries that have popped into my mind.  Ignoring the sensibilities, that he will be contactable when we allow him to start going places on his own.  When the extra curricular activities in school begin in earnest.  And the fact that I know he is still years away from being allowed a phone.

It still gives me heart palpitations.

I know how easy it is to be addicted to your phone, to aimlessly scrolling through with no real thought.  Just a flashing blur of screens.

I know that there is a world out there of people who will be mean for no reason.  And that it can be relentless, ongoing, and I imagine that living in your pocket.

The lure of a phone to play games, take silly pictures and, of course, the dreaded YouTube, is great.  Even for a nearly six year old.  But until I know that we can take precautions for him to be safe (we’ll need to familiarise ourselves with the latest smartphone safety for children), that he has a solid head on his shoulders about it all, and he really actually needs a phone to be safe when walking alone from school.  I think that he’s a good five to six years to wait to get his grubby mitts on one.

Until then, for his technology fix, he can watch the Amazon Kids Fire I’m planning on buying him before our road trip to France, play Mario Kart on his Nintendo Switch with the WiFi switched off and borrow my phone to take random selfies of himself and his brother.

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Because right now, not only is HE not ready for the responsibility of a smartphone in his pocket, I’M not ready for the responsibility of him having a smartphone in his pocket.

And right now, I’d rather just sit and watch him enjoy running round outside, free and happy in the knowledge that he’s just a happy kid busy playing.  I’ve time enough to worry about a smartphone when he’s bigger, right now I just want to worry about his grubby knees.


this is a collaborative post

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