Smart phone

Smartphone not a smart birthday gift for ten year old

TraceyAsk Tracey, Columns, Tracey's Blog

Dear Tracey,

I know it’s usually my younger generation that gets accused of being addicted to our electronic devices but in my family it’s my dad who has the biggest problem with them.

That’s okay, I don’t have to live with him, except now he wants to give our son a smart-phone for his tenth birthday. My husband and I are strongly against it but my dad just doesn’t relate to our concerns. (We love our son but the kid can’t remember to feed his fish or put his bike in the garage at night. Besides, we’re not ready to have him exposed to social media.)

But no matter what we say, I have the feeling that when my son is opening his presents, that phone will be there. How do I get Grandpa to see that a ten year old isn’t ready for a smartphone? And what do we do if he goes against our wishes and gives one to our son anyhow?


Frustrated Daughter

Dear Reader,

It’s tough whenever a grandparent refuses to respect what parents want for their children, especially when it comes to critical issues regarding healthy development and maturity.

I think your dad is really overstepping the bounds on this. It’s up to you and your husband to determine how you will raise your children, not him.

That said, before you tackle this topic again with your father, make sure you two have clear reasons about why you don’t think your son is ready for this gift.

NPR published some guidelines on this topic that may be helpful: 

“Many agree that there’s no magic age to give a kid a smartphone. Common Sense Media, a nonprofit focused kids and technology, says that rather than considering the age of a child, focus on maturity. Some questions to consider are:

  1. Are they responsible for their belongings?
  2. Will they follow the rules around phone use?
  3. Would having easy access to friends benefit the for social reasons?
  4. Do kids need to be in touch for safety reasons? If so, will an old fashioned flip phone …do the trick”

From the little you have said, your son doesn’t sound mature enough to handle a smartphone. If you agree, try explaining your logic, along with concrete examples of this, to your dad one last time.

If he still refuses to honor your wishes, take deep breath and tell him that if a smartphone arrives on your son’s birthday, it will go on the shelf until you and your husband feel your boy is mature enough for it. Make sure your dad knows that you will also be telling your son the same thing.

Make sure your son knows what may happen and be prepared for a less-than-enthusiastic reaction. This may be a tough life lesson for him. (What kid doesn’t want fancy, high tech devices these days?) I would be surprised if you end up temporarily feeling like the bad guys. But your son will survive and be better because of your parenting.

Stand firm with your dad. Remember, it doesn’t matter what he wants. The only issue here is your task of raising a responsible, well-rounded child.


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