When Kids Get Their First Smartphones

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Everyone knows that technology is a big part of my life.

One look in my bag, around my office or anywhere in this house and you’ll find technology of every kind.

Because of this, many people were surprised when I bring up that our kids have just received their first smart phones.

Since a lot of people ask they whys and whens of children and phones, I thought I’d share a little bit of how we approached it in the Chapman household.

There is not a set age when it is appropriate to get your kids a cell phone. Among their friends, Dylan and Emily were two of the last to get a phone.

We held off because we didn’t really see a need for them. But, as they both got involved in more activities we thought it was time.

The decision was made to get them a standard phone. They could make calls (if they ever wanted to go old school) and text all they wanted to. This was instantly appreciated because they could text us when they needed a ride and we could text them at any time to check in or let them know something important.

At home, they have a computer and there are iPads around so that they could surf and play all that they wanted to. This would allow us to keep an eye on what they were up to and make sure that they made their mistakes here, rather than while mobile.

At 13 and 11, they were still getting their feet wet in the social world they were growing up in. We got them both iPod Touches for Christmas and that made the fight for a smart phone slow down since now they could use all the apps that their friends were using. The only difference was that they had to wait until they were home from school to use them. We explained that they couldn’t justify needing them during the day so the arguments never really went far.

Earlier this year, both of their phones began dying. They had use them solid for two years and we could not come up with any reason to keep them on these old school phones. The fact that we were “forcing” them to carry two devices with them everywhere was silly.

I researched lots of different family plans and in the end it was decided that Laura and the kids would stay on Verizon. We were happy to find out that they had a free upgrade option to an iPhone 5c for both of the kids. This was a nice surprise as the two phones were not currently on the same upgrade schedule and we learned our lesson the first go around about what happens when one kid gets a phone and the other doesn’t.

Now, we enter the fun reality of the world of data limits.

We are figuring out just how much they need and use. How are we going to handle overages? How to teach responsible usage?

We are in our first month and thankfully Verizon has tools to set limits on each phone which will be critical for us. One thing we learned right away is that my daughter was turning off data to be smart about it, but for some reason this means text messages from non iPhones don’t always get through. Strange, but true.

While this will be a learning time for all of us, I’m very excited about the new things this opens for us.

Later this summer we are headed on a cross-country roadtrip and knowing that the kids can capture and share memories from anywhere excites me on many levels, but more about that soon.

In reality, it also means lots more selfies. :)

  • http://stevegarfield.com Steve Garfield

    Great photo!

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      Thanks.

      It was a riot watching her try to take a selfie with the horse.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/joshlight/ Josh Light

    Really interesting approach. I’ll have to refer to this article when I have kids :-) I think it’s smart that you’re getting them into technology early. Imagine the impact of being able to Google anything as a kid. I wish I would have had that resource growing up.

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      Oh they are definitely exposed to technology. Impossible not to be in this house.

      But, I also make sure they are exposed to nature and other things as well.
      Equally, if not more important in my mind.

  • http://podcastingmag.com/iTunes Drew Griffin

    Love it C.C.! I can definitely relate with three daughters in our family. Another reason that I consider implementing the technology is to allow them to tinker and develop on mobile platforms. Aside from the data plans responsibility, remaining vigilant of their app habits and interaction with those applications is another layer to consider.Instagram drama (when a friend is ‘supposedly’ not doing anything or ‘can’t get together’ but is then discovered hanging out with someone else has led to many teaching moments in our house) and contextual reasoning is an entirely different ordeal with mobile. Sometimes having to have a decoder ring to decipher text conversations seems like a full time job. I wonder how many mobile phone related behavioral scenarios occur among households…..mobile addictions? I know that my co-dependency on my iPhone is incredulous.

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