We get asked at every parenting seminar, in every school and church where we speak. “When is the right age to give kids a cell phone?”
We recently heard about a new trend that is sweeping the country, and will undoubtedly be a part of our answer from here on out. It’s called #waituntil8th and is for parents who feel concerned about the effects of smartphones on the kids they love. One such mom in Austin, TX started the movement that has now reached parents in over 500 schools in 49 states.
Her name is Brooke Shannon and she started the pledge last spring. The way it works is this: You sign up through their website. Then, when 10 families from your child’s grade and school pledge to not give their children smart phones until 8th as well, you receive an email that the pledge has gone into effect.
We are firm advocates, in technology and really in all things, of parenting in community. Sissy talks about it, at length, in her book Taming the Technology Monster. You want a group of like-minded parents to be walking alongside so that when your child says, “I’m the only one in my grade who does have a _________, (which they will all say at some point), you have automatic backup. “That’s funny…because I talked to Amanda’s mom yesterday and Lauren’s mom the day before, and they don’t have _______ yet either.” Taking the Wait Until 8th pledge gives you automatic backup.
We also talk about how you don’t want your child to be the first to have every new gadget in the technology world, because they’ll become known as being on the cutting edge…which is not a place where you want your child as they’re growing up. But if you’re the last parent holdout in your child’s grade on every technology front, your child will likely be one to sneak those very gadgets you’ve prohibited. So, we, in good fun and faith, encourage parents to be the next to last. The Wait Until Eighth pledge ensures that you’re not the last parent holdout, too.
There are obviously times when your child can’t wait until 8th. We talk to parents regularly whose children are on sports teams that the coach uses a specific app to contact his players. Or a child who has a chronic illness that needs a smartphone to manage their disease. You, obviously, have to take the specific needs of your family into consideration.
If you haven’t yet crossed over into smartphone land with the kids you love, or even if you have, we’d highly recommend checking out their website.
You’ll be glad you did. And, like always, we’d recommend that you talk about it with your child. If you can get a group of your child’s friends to agree together, they’ll be much more likely to be on board. As we say at Daystar regularly, kids have a profound impact on each other. So, check out the website. Talk to your kids. Pull out your old school flip phones and wait until 8th, if you can.
Also, check out our past blog from a wise high school student who made her own decision to revert back to a flip phone—even after 8th grade.