Happy Kids, Inc: Why Your 10 Year Old Doesn't Need An iPhone
Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Why Your 10 Year Old Doesn't Need An iPhone

By Meg Hodson

A high school friend of mine shared a great picture recently on Facebook.  It was of the bleachers in the student section of a high school basketball game.  The section was packed. Various friends were weighing in and identifying the faces in the crowd. But the one comment that stood out to me was "no one has a cell phone". Imagine that......and we survived!

Fast forward to today and a recent comment I heard from a fellow parent about a slumber party her daughter attended recently: "My daughter felt out of place because she was the only one without an iPhone." Sure, a ten year old might want an iPhone, but why exactly does he or she need an iPhone?

Technology has certainly made things easier in our lives, but it is a convenience, not a necessity. I didn't have a cell phone or iPad in junior high or high school, yet I still managed to maintain a 3.8 grade point average, play in sports, create memories, have fun, and travel. Would an iPad have made this easier and albeit a bit more fun? Certainly. Was it necessary. No.

So, I come back to my original question: why does a ten year old need an iPhone? And it's not just the slumber party story that spurned this blog post. I've noticed a lot of my daughters' friends with them in their possession. My daughter has mentioned friends that have gotten them. My daughter has even asked a few times if she could have one (or at the very least, activate her Dad's old one). To all this, I shrug my shoulders and shake my head. And all this coming from an iPhone user and fan. There are a number of reasons why:

Kids Technology iPhone

The Cost. Even if you get your iPhone for free (which does happen readily these days as newer models are introduced), there is still the monthly cost of having an iPhone. I am fine with my daughter tapping into our wireless internet to use her iTouch or to do research on our iPad, but her having an iPhone would seem excessive to me, especially when considering the cost. 

The Absence of Necessity. Last time I checked, 10 year olds aren't alone too much. They are at school, at sports practices, dance class, at a friends' house, at their own home. In which one of those situations would they need any kind of phone, let alone an iPhone? Chances are there is an adult in all of these instances that would have a phone for use should an emergency arise. 
As a child, I found myself alone when my chain broke and I fell off my bike. I was bleeding and crying. But I also found a way to stay calm, I began to walk my bike home. I even stopped at a family friends' house on the way to see if they could help me, but they weren't home. I gained a lot of independence and courage that day.....and all without technology. 

Some might take my view here as anti-technology. That is far from the case. Certainly in my role and job as a blogger and small business owner, I use technology everyday. But that is because I have commitments that require me to use it. Ten year olds don't have such a commitment; they are free. Can't we let them truly enjoy their childhood a bit more? Can we show our children that we can function without technology and don't always need to rely on it so much?  If you choose to give you ten year old an iPhone, is it for their benefit? Or more for yours? Just because we can do something doesn't mean we necessarily should.

They Can't Pay For It. To me, having an iPhone is still considered a luxury, even for adults. Most iPhone users (myself included) have made a choice to invest in owning an iPhone. As a parent, I provide necessities for my children: a home, their clothing, an education. food. Why should I provide them a luxury, something that is paid for up and beyond what would be considered normal life expenses? I whole-heartedly embrace my children saving money toward something they really want, within reason. That teaches them responsibility. But between soccer practices, homework, time with friends, and family time, that doesn't leave much room in a 10 year olds' life to earn enough money for a monthly iPhone bill. 
I realize more and more families are saying goodbye to their land lines and going wireless. But with the options for "wireless" home phones on the rise and inexpensive cell phones for older children to use, the leap to iPhones for kids is not as natural as you might think. 

Ultimately, I think we need to find the right balance with technology: introduce our children to tech that will be fun, entertaining, and educational yet not grow them up too fast. 

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