Our son wants a smartphone with an Instagram account.
He’s 12. He’s in seventh grade. He wants to be able to text his friends, send pictures, and chat in the afternoons and evenings.
His mom and I say “no.”
We’ve opened an Instagram account on my wife’s phone that he can use to post an occasional picture or, under our supervision, see what his friends are up to during the summer. But we’ve drawn the line at him having a phone at this age and all the social media accounts that go with it.
Crazy thing is, we’re the oddballs. Only a handful of his classmates are without a phone.
I’m not judging the decisions that other parents make, so long as they are informed and involved in their children’s lives. Every child is different. Parents can use discernment and come to different conclusions on this matter. I am, however, confident that we’re making the right decision for our families.
Naturally, our son has asked the question several times in several ways: Why not, Dad? Why not, Mom?
The easy answer would be: “There’s bad stuff on the internet and we don’t want you to access it.” We could talk about sexting and pornography and all the potential dangers of being online. But I know there are certain filters and barriers that impede that deluge of filth. Besides, the potential for future, sexual temptation is not our greatest concern anyway.
No, the real reason why our son doesn’t have a phone is because we think his middle-school years will be better spent without one. The answer I’ve given, over and over again, is this: I want you to be free from middle school drama when you’re at home.
Of course, our son thinks the phone represents a new rung on the ladder, the next step toward the freedom of adulthood. We think the phone, at his age, is a step down into slavery. It traps kids, just like it can trap adults, into the social game of likes and comments and never-ending comparisons.