My oldest daughter got her first school locker at 5th grade orientation at the new middle school. She nervously worked her combination and adjusted the books on her white locker shelf and added a mirror on the door. I’ll never forget the day four years ago—not because it was a big deal that she was growing up. Because it was. But I remember it more because of how grown up the other kids around her seemed.
The girl next to her had fake nails, hair highlights was wearing name brand clothes head-to-toe and had was going to take notes on a tablet. And at the locker below her, a girl was texting her boyfriend on her iPhone. It felt more like a scene from high school musical than the 5th grade.
I silently prayed I could keep my little girl little and we could navigate these adolescent years well. And we have so far.
When she asked for certain brands, we talked about budgets and saving and through the years she enjoyed a few. When she asked for a smart phone, we told her high school and thankfully, she hasn’t asked for fake nails or a boyfriend yet.
We recognized along the journey that some parents said yes sooner than we did and others said it later. And that’s okay. Because there’s not a perfect age or stage and we are all doing the best we can. I think it depends on what’s right for your family.
I’m not saying it was easy. It was just plain hard at times. I think my daughter must have asked for something we weren’t quite ready to give her a hundred times during those middle school years. We would remind her of our goal. The requests lessened in junior high.
That’s why surprising her a few days ago before she started high school with her own smart phone was a joy for all of us. She was shocked. But she was ready and the moment felt like victory for all of us.
Along with her phone we gave her this contract. It requires phone etiquette and usage rules and where and when it’s appropriate. We all signed it.
It’s just a matter of time before your child has the power of technology at their fingertips. Whether it’s a game system, a smart phone or a Kindle or a laptop, technology is more accessible than ever and it’s here to stay. Every parent reading this handles is differently. It’s not a question of if, it’s a matter of when.
I love technology. It’s a huge part of my life and I certainly don’t want to rob my kids of the good things that it offers. But more than anything, I want them to understand the power it wields, the dangers that are a click away and make sure they are mature enough to handle it.
It’s a big subject that changes as fast as the next upgrade and it’s our job to not only monitor our kids, but to live by example.
Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane helped us with this decision. This summer I read (and endorsed) this important book and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s like curriculum for parents in our tech-savvy and screen-obsessed world and it released this week!
In my daughter’s cell phone contract, we asked that she wait on a Facebook account until she was older, but gave permission for an Instagram account. After a couple of days, she said, “Mom, I’m going to wait on that too. I don’t think I’m quite ready for it yet.”
And I knew we’d waited long enough. She was ready.
Today, I’m giving away two copies of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World. Leave a comment if you’d like to win.