Hi All! I just wanted to ask what are your views on kids owning smartphones. I am a father of 3 (ages: 8, 6 and 2) and when taking the older kids to school or kindergarten I notice a lot of children playing smartphone games, watching cartoons on youtube or doing other stuff with their phones. The thing is we, my wife and I, think our children are to young to use a smartphone on a daily basis (of course they know how to use it for example to be able to call for help if need be) but this means they are very often excluded from the group, since for example they have no knowledge of the current games their “friends” play (very often online and microtransaction lootbox based, not to mention violence and other things!). We struggle a lot to explain this to our kids, that they are to young for a smartphone, those games are not for them and in the long run it is better for them etc. but on the other hand we can see in their eyes that they just want to be a part of the group (which is natural). How do you all deal with this? Any ideas?
I have only a new-born daughter, so she has still some time, however I think there is a middle way. You can buy them a smartphone (not necessary the most expensive one) and set it up to protect what they are able to install or which content they can access. I have played Doom 2 or Heretic together with my father, when PC came to every house. We were switching chair after every “dead”. Although full of blood and violence, I dont think it has influenced me, because it has been in a “controlled way” and I was aware its just a game. btw those are my best memories with him and my other friends. If you limit and supervise them, they will be fine. Its just another tool. I think the most important is to also take small part in those online activities with them and to know what they are doing. Then you can understand their world and they are happy to tell you more.
We have some articles which you may find interesting @Lukasz_Siecinski:
- 4 Skills to Teach Your Child in the Digital Age
- Responsible Parenting in the Digital World
- Mindfulness and your Child’s Mental Health
- Smartphone Use and its Impact on Your Child’s Health
- The Benefits of Teaching your Child to Monotask
- How Old Should Your Child Be Before Owning a Smartphone?
- Don’t Let Your Child Use Wireless Devices Before They’re Two
- WHO Guidelines: Children and Screen Time
- Digital Wellness: Teach Your Child Healthy Technology Habits
Also, from my own experience, not as a parent (yet) but when I was a teacher, I found that playing offline games is a really good way of distracting children who want to use smartphones.
For example, card games like Exploding Kittens might be inappropriate so they have created a ‘family friendly’ version. Then, there are classic games such as Monopoly, chess, Scrabble, checkers, other card and board games, etc. which children enjoy. When your children’s friends come to visit, for example, with the 6 and 8 year olds, you could introduce them to these kinds of offline games. That way they will all play together and then they can talk about it in school, which means more children will want to play offline games. Think of the success of Pokémon cards or other trading card games in schools. Toys such as Lego etc. build imagination so that might be fun too!
You could also try printing some smartphone templates and say “let’s design our own smartphone game” then use coloured pencils to draw it!
There are also a list of offline hobbies here:
I hope this is useful!
Congratulations on your new daughter @Karol_Tesar!
I had a similar experience to you, in terms of gaming with my parents (they were in their 20s in the 90s so they love consoles), always being aware that what I was playing was very much ‘just a game’.
This kind of more conscious gaming style is really helpful as it creates a balance and also to discourage ‘gaming addiction’ behaviours. I remember playing World of Warcraft for hours and thinking ‘this is fun but I have to go outside too’, then I started playing it less and less. For games like Magic: The Gathering (an offline card game), we usually limit ourselves to ‘best out of three’. Otherwise we would play it for the whole day.
Finding a harmony when it comes to fun activities, even as an adult, definitely starts in childhood.
@Lukasz_Siecinski I have a 14yo teenager at home. And I must say that he’s generation is pretty different than ours. He is Generation Z. I can say, that he was almost born with the phone and a computer mouse in his hand. For him, these times are the norm. We had to learn to live with technology.
For him, it’s normal to use Wikipedia or other internet sources as a base of his knowledge.
We were using Larousse encyclopedia - a multi-volume physical repository of knowledge.
So I decided to teach him, how to use technology mindfully, so it won’t overwhelm him in any way. Of course, he is using it more than I do, but he has no problem putting it away. Or like during this vacation time - after half a year of homeschooling he didn’t turn on his computer since June 27th.
So what I can suggest is to teach your children that they have power over technology. That they can use it for fun (an hour or two daily or less than that, depending on the age of the child) and also for finding knowledge. Be with them, when they are using it. Show them how to use it mindfully. Your wife and you will not achieve good results when you will be scrolling and your children will be prohibited from using the devices. It is difficult, but as parents, we must be as an example.
It will take a few years and you will probably fight more than one war with your children, but it pays off. Believe me. I can already see the effects of this.