My wife Heather has taken on the role of holding the line.
It cannot be easy to hold the line because when it comes to the boys, I have the backbone of a garden snake and the teeth to go along with it.
Heather and I saw from the beginning that cellular phones would be a very big distraction. We also saw that regulating the amount of technology our boys were going to consume would be a challenge. However, we believed that postponing the use of a smartphone or iPhone until they could pay for the plan themselves and have the maturity to handle both the mental and physical time suck that phones pose would be a good approach. Little did we know, most parents did not agree.
“Dad, we are outcasts.” “I am the only kid I know without a cell phone.” Studies show that the kids were not that far off. One article on CNN.com explains that about 45% of children in the U.S. from ages 10 to 12 have their own smartphone with a service plan.
The article goes on to explain that this phenomenon is not limited to kids in the U.S. In fact, 72% of children in South Korea owned a cell phone by ages 11 to 12. South Korean kids spend as much as 5.4 hours a day on those phones.
Despite the fact that it seemed as though every other kid in the developed world had a cell phone, we held the line and the boys did not make this purchase until their 16th birthdays. In addition, the boys have to pay $20 a week to cover this cell phone bill which also covers the car insurance for the truck they drive.
Holding back cell phones until age 16 did not kill them. In fact, we believe that keeping this technology away for a little while was liberating. Requiring that they pay for their own phones through part-time work allowed them to build some self- esteem. As an added bonus, they have not asked for spending money since they were 16. Although they still use their phones more than we would like, they know they can live without them. Most of us tend to forget that there was life before cell phones.
Here are some more articles on kids and cell phone use: