An issue I often run across my work in family therapy is children/teens and technology. I often get questions such as "when is my kid old enough for their own phone?" or "How can I get my kid to put the phone down?" Cellphones have pros and cons- cellphones are often used as an immediate access to safety for your child to be able to dial 911 in addition to being a helpful tool for us to be able to track where our kids are hanging out. The cons are often we no longer know where our child's hand ends and the cellphone begins.
The reality of 2016 is infants are learning their colors on iPads, kids get rewarded with a tantalizing promise of watching T.V shows on their tablets- even schools have started their own technology savvy programs. To assert that a child should be removed or severely limited from technology is not only unrealistic, but virtually impossible. A child's maturity should be taken into account when thinking about getting them their own internet accessible phone. Additionally, having an open and honest conversation along with educating yourself with your child on internet safety is extremely important. Look into the apps your child has downloaded- do these have chat sections where they can talk to strangers? Don't be afraid to explore- the chances are your 10 year old knows more about the latest technology than the Pentagon.
When it comes to kids being attached to cellphones, first we must look at ourselves- do I as a parent bring my phone to the dinner table? Do I sometimes text and talk to my kid, then get mad at them for doing the same to me? Cellphone boundaries and rules vary with age. With younger kids, you may have to shut off the phone at night and put it in your own room, or with older kids you may need to turn off internet access on the phone (talk to your phone/internet provider) until chores are done.
Some teens are good at regulating their phone use, however it is important to keep a watchful eye on if it begins interfere with your child's sleeping and school habits.
In conclusion, cellphones and technology are not all bad, these are wonderful tools for our kids to reach out, keep in contact, learn and help everyone over the age of 25 figure their new iOS updates.
Alexis has been a part time contributor to the online website Patientworthy which is dedicated to education and awareness of rare and serious diseases. Links to articles written by Alexis: