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    Categories: ParentingTweens & Teens

Banning Smartphones For Kids Under-13? Good Luck With That

It’s amazing to me as a mom how very little frame of reference I have from my own childhood when it comes to making big decisions about my children. There is no greater reference gap for parents out there then when it comes to technology. The average family home didn’t have computers until I was a pre-teen and even then, it was a single, family computer.

Now? Every kid has their own computer, handheld, and easy to take with them wherever and whenever they go.

My friends and I started petitioning to get a (corded!) phone in our room when we were about 12, and most of our parents gave in, mostly so they didn’t have to hear our drivel-filled 12-year-old conversations. We didn’t get our first cell phones until university, typically when we could afford to buy it ourselves.

I realize this sounds like ‘When I was a kid I had to walk 20 miles to school in the snow, without boots, up hill, both ways!’ But the reality is, times have changed.

I have said for the entirety of my eight years of parenting that we would have one family computer in a central place. No internet in bedrooms. I would only allow my children to be on the computer where I could see them. I would be in full control.

I’ll wait here while you stop laughing.

Let me know when you’re done.

Done yet?

Good.

I realize that that is the most ignorant ‘My kid will never X….’ ever. As if we don’t have wifi. As if there aren’t tablets and laptops already in the house and eventually, there will be smartphones in my kid’s hands. There just will be.

A Denver dad and doctor is leading a campaign in Colorado to create the Unites States’s first legal limits on the age a child is allowed to own a cell phone. Tim Farnum is advocating for new rules that would make it illegal to sell a phone for use of a child under the age of 13, and require retailers of cell phones to ask customers who the primary user of the phone they’re purchasing it for will be.

Farnum has concerns about the psychological impact that children having cell phones can have on young, immature minds and psyches and wants to limit the age at which a person can be trusted to own one. He saw his own kids struggle with the access to their devices.

“They would get the phone and lock themselves in their room and change who they were,” he told the Associated Press.

Like my ‘rule’ about phones, this proposed rule is spitting in the wind. It’s so beyond unenforceable.

My kids are too young for me to have a real opinion on what age is right, and that opinion will be formed based on my kids and their maturity, not some arbitrary rule or suggestion of when they are ready. We have tablets in our house and they are not allowed in my six and eight-year-old’s rooms. They can have a password, as long as we know what it is. We have all sorts of rules surrounding its use. We picked when we felt they were old enough to have them at all and we determine how they should be used.

Giving my kids a phone will be no different. We will pick what age we deem reasonable, we will pick how they are used, where they are used, when they are used, and what the consequences of misuse will be. Because that’s our job as parents.

I’m not naïve enough to think that my kids won’t try to get away with breaking the rules. In fact, I’m sure they will. But that is my job; to monitor and to handle and to pick the consequences of. I am certainly in a much better position to do so than whoever thinks it’s reasonable to enact some one-size-fits-all rule restricting their use.

I get why he wants to see restrictions put in place but this is certainly not going to serve his goal. The goal should be to educate and inform, not to restrict as if that is the ultimate answer. It’s not practical nor is it at all enforceable. Would the police confiscate a phone if it was found in the hands of a 12-year-old?

If Farnum thinks such a rule would keep cell phones out of the hands of the hands of 13-year-olds, he’s as in tune with the modern world as I was when I said we’d have one family computer and no internet in bedrooms.

It’s laughable.

Leslie Kennedy: