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Sunday, September 2, 2018

5 things you must consider before buying your kid a phone.

I went to the bowling alley with my kids last week. There was a group of 8 teenagers bowling on the lane next to us. I was expecting normal, loud teenage behavior. Our experience instead was nothing short of bizarre. The kids all sat in their chairs glued to their phones. Not really talking to each other or paying attention to the game. One by one they would get up, take their turn, then sit down and return to whatever they'd been looking at. Every once in a while one teenager would poke another and show him or her something on their screen. They'd laugh and talk about it for a second, then go right back to their own screens again.

We were at a bowling alley where it is very loud, the laser lights blink and dance and the music is blaring. How is it that kids are so attached to their phones that they'd rather miss that? It was shocking to me as a parent because my kids do not have phones. 

Growing up, we did not have phones (or pagers, which were much more prevalent at the time). There was one phone in my house when I was younger, and it had a cord attaching it to the wall. Now we all have phones and we are the ones attached to them. It's crazy!

Over the years my husband and I have debated buying our kids phones. There are plenty of reasons why phones are good, helpful tools. Though each time, we come to the same conclusion: it's just not necessary for our kids to have them. I understand circumstances are different for everyone, and that what works for us maybe won't work for someone else. I think that every parent has the right to decide what is best for their own children. For me, I say no phones. Here is why:

 Phones are expensive

My husband and I work hard for our money. We budget carefully, and try to make wise financial decisions. Giving each of my children a phone is a huge gamble with our hard-earned cash. Kids are messy, curious, and sometimes forgetful. I can't see giving my kids a $600 phone and letting them loose with it. 

Fear of missing out is an anxiety that something exciting or fun is happening characterized by a strong desire to be continually connected. FOMO can also lead to feelings of depression. It can be all consuming and a reported 3/4 of young adults have reported feeling this way. It can literally become their first addiction! The American Academy of Pediatrics has released it's list of appropriate screen times. You might be shocked by suggested guidelines for children and teens.  
 Sleep interference 
Blue light emitted from phones restrict the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for your sleep/wake rhythm. Children need as much as 13 hours of sleep each night, many children and teens have reported staying up well into the night playing on their devices, depriving themselves of much needed rest. 

The internet can be dangerous
There are so many things that kids do not need to see that are within a click on the internet. Porn, violence, and other graphic materials are so easily accessible, even with parental controls and filters. There is no sure way to keep dangerous sites away from curious eyes. Although I can't keep my kids innocent forever, I would like to try to protect them as long as I can. 

Prevents good habits and necessary skills
Jumping from one stimulus to another, cell phones hinder development of concentration and doesn't allow them to handle boredom on their own. Cell phones also discourage face-to-face conversation, instead promoting online relationships in place or real ones. 

Do you agree with my list? I'd love to hear from you!

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