This was a big decision, and it’s one that a lot of families find tricky. We know people with children younger than ours who have phones. I also know that many of my daughters’ friends will not be allowed to have phones until they are much older.
Our decision was based on a lot of factors, not the least of which was that she has already been using a hand-me-down iTouch, which does everything a smartphone does, except for make phone calls. The iTouch is so outdated, though, that it won’t support a lot of her newer games. Getting a new one would have cost $200. Getting an iPhone on our family’s cell plan cost $40 plus a bit more each month on our bill.
I completely respect those who believe kids shouldn’t have smartphones. Ask me in three months whether I feel this was a good decision, and I may tell you I regret it. But I have, at least, tried to think of every issue that could arise.
I decided to put into writing my expectations where the iPhone is concerned. I drew up a contract that spells out what behavior is not allowed, when she may use the phone, and under what circumstances. We had her sign two copies – one for her and one for us. I’m not naive enough to think this will prevent shenanigans, but I’m hopeful it will make her more thoughtful. And I’m glad I’ve got it all in black and white if and when I have to take the phone away.
If you’re thinking of getting your child a smartphone, you might find my contract useful. I’ve created a more generic version as a printable pdf in case you’d like to rip it off and use it yourself (see the link below). Or just take a look and see if it gives you any ideas. I’ll check back in a few months with an update on how it’s going at our house. To those of you who are wading into these waters with us, good luck! Click the image above or this link to download the printable parent/child smartphone contract.