As a father of two boys who are not yet teens, the questions are already coming up about when can they get a cell phone, when they can have a Facebook account. Some other kids their age already have one or the other, or maybe both. Being somewhat more conservative, I don’t see the rush to allow that into their lives. Every kid and every situation is different and each family has to figure that out for themselves. Our kids are either with us, with family or with friends and there is always an adult nearby. They aren’t out walking around town by themselves, so there is no need for them to have a cell phone. I see younger kids, under 10, all the time walking around, riding their bikes, going to the store, hanging out at parks without any adults around and I don’t think that is a good idea. Kids have plenty of time to learn independence. They are very impressionable at that age and aren’t ready physically or emotionally to be just be out on their own. They don’t have life experience yet. There is nothing that says letting your kids do whatever at 10 means they will be more responsible at 16. Some parents are reactive and some are proactive. I don’t believe in giving kids everything and then taking away things if they mess up. I think privileges should be earned. A cell phone is not a right.
There have been a lot of stories lately about Internet bullying, teen suicides and the drama that comes out of kids who are not mature enough to handle situations being thrown at them. Facebook played a part in a teen who was murdered recently that we have been discussing on our website, www.elkgrove-laguna.net/forums/showthread.php?5633-Teens-and-social-media-what-age-is-appropriate
Being a teen is hard enough without adding the pressures of social media and Facebook type websites that really have no benefits to teens. Throw in texting and that instant communication where one mistake can suddenly be broadcast all over the place and it’s just something most kids don’t need. We all want to be “good” parents and give our kids the best things and give them things we didn’t have as kids. We are as guilty of that as any parents and our kids are very spoiled and don’t realize it. But we are pretty strict on what they can and can’t do and we won’t parent based on how others parent. Just because another kid has a cell phone or is on Facebook will not influence our decisions as parents and what we think is best for our kids. Technology has brought us a lot of good, but it has also brought us some bad things. It’s up to parents to be parents.