5 Reasons Santa Should Not Deliver A Smart Phone

Five reasons why you may not want to give your child a smart phone for Christmas.
Melanie Hempe

Your child has made his Christmas list and a smart phone is occupying the number one slot. Like many parents you want desperately to make this Christmas the best ever. But before you go hunting for that old iPhone 5 box (because you just got the new 6 and you are passing down your used device to your child) think this through.

Here are my top 5 reasons why you may wish to reconsider your decision:

1.      Phones are not toys and your child is not developmentally mature enough to handle the distractions, the temptations or the responsibility of this adult data management device unless he is at the very least mature enough to drive himself to his own orthodontic appointment, do his own laundry and remember (on his own) to thank his Aunt for his birthday money. Text only phones are a better alternative.  They will serve all his needs well, and many seasoned moms agree that a kid should always have a text only phone before a smart phone just to gauge his responsibility skills.  New models of talk/text only phones are still being manufactured and sold, and a quick internet search will turn up many options for you to explore. 

2.      It is hard to take it back, not impossible but hard. Once your sweet little thing gets her hands on that shiny new flat thing she won’t let it go. The emotional grip will be stronger than her physical grip. Along with this gift will come pain, tears and shocking exposure to content that you may not have even realized was out there on the net. She will easily find it, and it will find her between your well-meaning but flawed parental control cracks.

3.      If you have a preteen or teen, be prepared for tears when she gets rejected and left out on social media. She will still get hurt and left out without a handheld screen but it is much more magnified when she carries that screen with her everywhere, including to bed every night. This is why you have to give a box of Kleenex with this gift.  A new bike, board game, art supplies, pet or family vacation is starting to sound pretty good right about now! If she doesn’t get the phone you may get tears too but those tears are much easier to handle and have fewer long term consequences.

4.      A trade will be made. What will your child give up for the hundreds of hours he will spend on the phone taking selfies, watching vine videos and playing screen games? Will he give up playing outside, reading books, building something, talking with you about his day while you make dinner? Probably a combination of all of those things.

5.      Will you be able to protect her? NO. You will lose part of your child to the wide web on that small, private pocket device and she will lose part of her childhood innocence. Ten is the average age for first time porn viewing according to the Kaiser Family Institute and this viewing typically occurs on a smart phone. Is your family ready for that? Maybe you should stick to the family laptop in the kitchen one more year rather than putting the portable internet in her pocket. Now is the window of opportunity to do childhood and do it really well. The FBI states that middle school is the most dangerous time for a child to have social media access. Does she need to be equipped to use social media? Yes, but not till she is mature enough to apply your family principles and values (see #1).

Unlike the jelly of the month club, this is one gift that just keeps taking instead of giving all the year through. This post is for all those families who are unsure about making the move to hand over the device, and it is from all those parents who now wish they could undo that gift decision that was prematurely made. Be prepared. This gift really will change your family dynamics. Don’t worry that your child will be behind if she doesn’t get her own private, personal, out-of-your-control, pocket technology device right now.  She will actually be way ahead developmentally if she conquers the skills of childhood first.  

So stop the search for that old iPhone box and go wrap some more kid-friendly, less dangerous presents for your kids.  See our site familiesmanagingmedia.com for cool non-tech gift ideas, and enjoy your innocent child just one more year! You will all have a much happier holiday!

P.S. In the next post we will find out why Santa should hold off on the iPad too – – ouch!