I Didn’t Think My 10-Year-Old Needed A Phone But I Was Wrong
One day early last year, my daughter came home from school and said, “Lots of the other grade sixes already have their own phones.”
My reply: “There’s no way you’re having a mobile. You’re only 10! Why do these children have phones? Who’s paying for them? Are they looking at YouTube unsupervised? Do they have Instagram accounts? What has the world come to?!”
Then I wiped the sweat off my forehead and took a deep breath.
I’m completely useless when it comes to keeping up with technology. I just can’t be bothered learning how to use devices that become obsolete before you even unbox them.
Yes, I do know how to surf “The Web” and I am capable of “Googling” things (mostly “Easy carrot recipes” and “Weird lump is it cancer?”).
But if you said, “When was the last time you completely understood electronic gadgets?” I’d probably say “1986 -- the year I worked out how to record the radio onto cassettes.”
I dislike how incredibly device-reliant everyone has become, and I really hate seeing children glued to screens. However, I don’t want to trade in my car for a horse and cart or wash my sheets in a copper.
I can appreciate how handy computers are (yes, exactly, I’m using one to write this), and I have (begrudgingly) accepted that tech dependency is unavoidable. Which is why, six months after my “no mobile” rant, I did a swift 360 and bought my daughter a phone.
I had lots of reservations, though. I wondered if she would:
- look at inappropriate websites/images/videos
- get cyber-bullied
- start socialising on screen rather than in person
- exceed her data limit and rack up an enormous bill
- become addicted to her device and never talk to me again.
I wasn’t convinced I’d made the right decision.
Then I realised that I’d overlooked a major benefit of tween phone ownership.
Last week, my daughter was invited to a sleepover party. Now, I’m not a laid-back, whatevs-style, free-range parent. No. I’m a classic helicopter. ALWAYS right there. Very much IN CONTROL.chu
I let my kids go to school, because homeschooling-no-thank-you, but that’s about it.
I’m suspicious of all people. I don’t care how nice and kind and lovely someone seems -- as far as I’m concerned, they might be a paedophile. And even if they’re not, they might still be lax with security and forget to lock their doors at night.
My basic parenting philosophy: there’s danger everywhere. As a result, I can’t handle sleepovers. Whenever my children say, “Can I stay over at so-and-so’s house?” I reply, “Not until you’re 12. I mean 16.”
READ MORE: 8 Reasons Why Having Kids Ruined My Life
So the sleepover party invitation was tricky. On the one hand, I didn’t want to make my daughter a social outcast. On the other hand, the birthday girl was not a close friend. I hardly knew her mother, and I’d never met her father.
The situation made me nervous.
That new phone was my saving grace. I said yes to the party because I felt like the phone gave my daughter a special kid super power -- the ability to contact me if she didn’t feel safe.
She wouldn’t have to rely on adults to act as messengers; she could just tap her little screen and hey presto, Mum to the rescue. I know a mobile can’t guarantee safety, but it can give an anxious mother some reassurance.
During the sleepover, I sent one simple text: “How’s it going?”
The reply: “Good and you said I shouldn’t use my phone too much and be antisocial so my mouth is zipped from now goodnight.”
Which was just the answer I wanted.