So this is a post specifically geared for those of us with tweens. My oldest is sprinting through her final year at elementary school and already, the phone conversation has begun. I feel like middle school was the unspoken rule for when kids started getting phones but it seems parents are breaking down early these days.
It’s interesting because when I ask others about the when and the why of the handing over the phone, the overwhelming response is for safety and communication strictly with family members. But it is such a slippery slope with phones and social media. Texting and all of the yuck that comes with that is almost inevitable once a phone belongs to someone.
My husband and I have, up to this point, been unwilling to even discuss with our oldest daughter the timing of a phone and, for the most part, it hasn’t been a big deal in our house. But I know it’s coming. That’s why I was so excited when I learned recently how a friend was handling the phone issue in her home. Her children are a little older than mine and I truly admire how she is raising her four kids. The phone situation is simple, but brilliant, in my opinion.
I asked her specifically how she handled the social media problem and she told me, well that’s easy, my kids don’t have phones. When I pressed a little for more detail about how they are in touch after sports or other extra-curricular activities, she said, oh they have access to phones – they are just all mine.
Wait? What? Yes, my friend is brilliant. She has phones available to “check-out” for use when needed but all of the numbers belong to her. So her children have no specific number to give their friends for texting and calling – basically eliminating the concern about that slippery slope! There’s a basket on the counter with extra phones, and with a family plan it’s not really much of an additional charge. They check out the phone when they need it and return it when they are done.
Y’all, this feels like a total game changer and I felt like I had to tell you. This is most definitely the approach we plan to take when our daughter hits middle school next year. Now, I know kids are smart and sneaky and there are probably ways for them to use a phone in a negative way as long as they have access to it. But this feel like a really good way to introduce a phone, offer a little bit of freedom and responsibility, while also letting your child know that anything that happens on that phone is ultimately available to you as the parent to monitor. And since the phone isn’t really theirs, the access can be as limited as you like for as long as you like, or until you feel they have earned the right to have their own number.
Stay tuned and I will report how it unfolds when we put this plan in place. What is your phone plan and how do you handle this tricky situation?