My wife and I gave our 7 year old daughter a phone today. It’s a yellow iPhone 5c and may very well be nicer than the phone I’m currently using. I am still not sure how I feel about this, but I do feel better knowing that she can reach her parents if and when she needs to.
I have no doubt that many issues will arise from my child now having a device that connects to the entire world and we’ll deal with them as they come but here are a few things that we considered that led to this decision:
1. While this phone will be her’s, it will be used in an extremely controlled environment. We will add the contacts she will have access to. We have the ability to view her usage and stop cell data at anytime and will have strict rules as to when and where she can use the phone or even take it.
2. We want her to be able to call us. If we drop her off at karate class and it ends a little early, I want her to have the ability to get ahold of me. When I was a kid, I used a pay phone in a lot of similar situations (even calling collect, name: pickmeupatthepark). But, pay phones are beyond scarce at this point.
3. We don’t have a land line at our house. We actually haven’t for 5 or 6 years and don’t miss it at all, but we do foresee it becoming an issue when the kids want to talk to their friends. Who wants a bunch of kids to have their cell number or worse—actually call it?
4. As someone who works in a tech-driven industry, I know the power of new devices and I’d like her to be comfortable with computers (both desktop and handheld) as early on as possible. She’s shown interest in science and technology and I want to do what I can to accommodate.
5. Selfishly, I love having a new channel to communicate with her. I can text her a message whenever I want or facetime with her if I’m working late. Seems small, but I’m actually really excited about it.
Cameron Moll’s excellent “A mobile phone contract for our teenage son” was a huge eye-opener on this topic and something I will absolutely borrow from in the future as we give our girl additional abilities like creating social accounts (way in the future), sharing photos, etc. For now though, we’re going to start with using the phone simply as a phone and see how that goes.