Wait Until 8th?

I don’t have an 8th grader. I don’t have any grader, in fact.

I’m not a Westport mom. I’m not any mom.

But I do love WestportMoms.com. And the other day the moms — Megan and Melissa — posted an interesting story.

Whether you’ve got an 8th grader, a 3rd grader or no grader at all, if you’ve lived or spent any time at all in Westport, you’ve noticed cellphone creep. More and more, younger and younger kids carry phones.

Which means they’re texting, swiping, and in every other way glued to their devices.

All the time.

OMG!

The WestportMoms story was headlined: “The ‘Wait Until 8th’ Pledge — Let Kids be Kids a Little Longer.”

The idea is for parents to delay giving children a smartphone until at least 8th grade. “By banding together, this will decrease the pressure felt by kids and parents alike,” they wrote.

The story offered several reasons to wait — and noted that “top Silicon Valley executives” agree.

Smartphones:

  • Are addictive
  • Are an academic distraction
  • Impair sleep
  • Interfere with relationships
  • Increase the risk for anxiety and depresson
  • Put children at risk for cyber-bullying
  • Expose children to sexual content.

(They are of course also fun, empowering, and facilitate communication between kids, friends and parents. That was not in the story, but I felt compelled to toss it in.)

What do you think? As the school year races toward us, is the “Wait until 8th” pledge important? Necessary? Unnecessary? Futile?

Click “comments” below.

And kids, if you want to text me — wait, no..

14 responses to “Wait Until 8th?

  1. I’ve been a part of this post and thread on FB for some time. This debate has strong arguments from both perspectives – “to smart phone” or “not to smart phone.” My son is 11. He will be in 6th grade. While I completely understand the points made against having a phone at too early an age – I think the main argument is exposing one’s child to the internet, social media and apps on the phone. We allow for none of it. He has the phone for texting, calling and taking photos. Over the summer, we ran up against a situation wherein he needed to call us asap. Had he not had his phone things would have gotten serious very quickly. Also – I am curious… why the photo above has only girls? I’m wondering if this should be part of the dialogue. My son RARELY uses his smartphone. He has left it behind at several places because it’s NOT attached to his hand constantly. Perhaps it’s because he’s not allowed internet access – but I think even if he were, he’s just not that interested. Now video games – that’s a whole different kettle of fish. And we have to regulate his time on the computer playing Minecraft. My point is that every family is different. And their needs are different. I think to say that a child “has no business having a phone until 8th grade” is a blanket statement. And believe me when I say that I was in that camp for a long time. It wasn’t until we couldn’t find him at the Yankee Doodle Fair when he ran off with some of his friends and then got separated from them – that we started to consider a phone. An i-Phone worked best for our family plan. We got him one, he was “meh” about it. And not two weeks later – he needed it in an emergency situation to contact us. I truly feel that in the case of the smartphone – it’s not a one size fits all type of debate.

    • Thanks, GiGi – very insightful. The reason the photo has only girls is it was the best one I could find to illustrate the story — nothing more, nothing less!

  2. As a guest teacher, I don’t see cellphones being a problem in schools…I don’t “see” them at all, at least in grades k-8 in Westport and Weston. After school, in homes, that’s out of my range. At our home, no cells allowed at meals or gathering times.

  3. Hats off to these Moms who sound like they are truly trying to find the best way to handle a very difficult decision. I am a (young-ahem) grandmother of 4 under the age of 7. The example always comes from the parents and I am afraid that because children are exposed at such a young age to electronics of all sorts and the ‘one hour a day rule’ for ‘educational purposes’ often does not apply and if mom and dad are not glued to their phones and having family dinners where everyone at the table is actually looking up and speaking to one another it might be easier to
    explain why someone who is 12 or 13 years old needs a phone of any sort. Of course everyone’s circumstances are different and the need for communication between child and parent might be essential. Just talking in generalities. We all have smartphones and it is a good thing. But like everything else u have to weigh the good with the not so good. Good luck Mommies with protecting ur children. U have the right idea.

  4. Terry Brannigan

    Your opening sentences sound like a nod to Dr Seuss! You may not have a grader but do you like green eggs and ham!

  5. I am way beyond eighth grade, but I’ve never had a smartphone. In fact, I have a dumb phone — a good old-fashioned flip-flop (well, maybe not that old). I use it only for emergencies, and never give out the number. If parents are that concerned about their childrens’ safety, they might consider this as a possibility.

  6. After posting my previous comment, I came across this article from The Atlantic. You may find it pertinent —

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/

  7. Valerie DiPrato

    I agree that each family situation is different and parents should decide what is best for their own particular situation. We should trust their ability to decide for themselves. Many parents have a need to contact their children – esp. those families with shared parenting situations. We gave our child an I-phone for elementary school graduation because in middle school the kids are on their own after school – they can go home with their friends at will. We wanted to make sure that we had an avenue for contact. Having said that we also turn the phones off for dinners and gatherings and we manage tech times on a daily basis.

  8. I was just reminiscing the other day about what a big deal it was for my brother and I to have our own phone line when we were in High school/ middle school! It was such luxury…and Yes I was caught on the phone late and have my phone taken away a few times! As Mom to a 15, 11(step-son) and 9 year old….Devices have taken over the household..and there have been times where I have threatened to smash every last one! It is certainly a battle…and unfortunately for my youngest will likely not get one as soon as the others did. I am in the process of crafting an agenda for the next family meeting..most of it will be centered around technology usage…because it’s not just the cell phone..it’s tablets..Xbox’s..Computer..TV’s…Everyone needs time to unplug..I for one have been forcing myself to increase my unplugged time..I’ve even gone back to my old style kindle reader…I think with anything..It really comes down to balance!

  9. Jonathan McClure

    As someone who grew up and attended school way before cell phones existed, I find this discussion very fascinating. I understand all the arguments for and against – it’s a different world now – people communicate, interact, and occupy themselves much differently now than when I was growing up. I know emergencies can come up and in those situations, yes, a cell phone can become a life-saver and why not be equipped with the latest technology. I can’t help thinking, however, that we, as a society, may have sacrificed more than we have gained. How many of us have witnessed teens standing around in a group or together in a restaurant, but all looking down at their phones – yes, maybe occasionally sharing something they find amusing on Facebook or Twitter, but still they are not really interacting with each other, at least not the way my friends and I did as kids. It seems everything is filtered through that tiny screen. Enjoying one of the many beautiful sunsets at Compo? I’ve witnessed people holding up their phones to record at length and then stand around with their friends watching what they recorded, behavior that I’m just not able to comprehend. The same thing at concerts – you’re there seeing it live, why the need to experience it through that tiny screen? I see nothing wrong with delaying the inevitable, maybe kids who don’t have the technology available to them as early will have a more moderated view of how technology fits into their lives.

  10. I have a rising 6th grader and have been paying attention to this dialogue to help formulate our cell phone stragety. I also wonder should the research recommending to hold off on smartphone exposure apply to the computer based learning/exposure both inside and assigned by our school system? I’m not suggesting we do away with utilizing computers at school, but perhaps, we need to ensure it’s not overused.

  11. I found this “sign of the times” article both fascinating and enlightening … and felt compelled to toss in a comment. Having grown up in W’port in a household where my mom worked at home, it was required that I always carried a nickel in my shoe or dimes (when a local phone call at a phone booth doubled in price – overnight!) in my loafers so that I could “phone home” in an emergency. I could go months without using those coins. So what, pray tell, constituted an emergency back in those days? Not showing up for lunch? Nah. Mom knew I wouldn’t starve. Late for dinner? Better use one of those coins. Curfew snafu? Pry a dime from the slot in those loafers. Flat tire? Not an emergency in my house ’cause my dad didn’t let me get my driver’s license until I could change a tire on the old three on the column jalopy that went from a being a beat up station car to my car (loved that car). That was just about it in the line-up of emergencies back in the day (did I just say that?).

    The need to feel, or stay connected in our technological brave new world has gotten out of hand – particularly when it comes to our young people. “Connecting” only via text on a cell phone or tablet gives our kids such a skewed idea of what relationship and communication are. Pinging someone a smiley face or an OMG will never take the place of an “I just called to say I love you”. And it can be addicting. I can vouch for that and so can my entire roster on “Words With Friends”.

    It’s easy to reminisce about those days. The 50s and 60s in W’Port. Carefree, cell phone free and pretty much emergency free.

    I do in fact have an eighth grader. Her name is Katie and she is my granddaughter. Does she have a cell phone? Yep. I gave it to her last year for Christmas – when she was only in 7th grade. Do I regret that? Nope. Because Katie has two great parents, both who grew up without cell phones and who sat down at the table and ate dinner with their family every night- just like I did. And they teach Katie how to use responsibly use her device(s). Yes, devices… She has an iPad too – a gift from me and her grandpa… But she is never glued to either one. Not yet anyway. And I am relying on her parents to continue to show her by example – the difference between a text and a hug – an OMG – TY! and a hand written THANK YOU note! I’m not worried.

    As I type, i can hear my cell phone trilling a tone I have assigned only to Katie… BRB.

    OMG – she just got her braces on and her pretty little smile is now emblazoned with a lovely shade of pale purple bands. Oye! So much has changed!

    I think I’ll give her a call and tell her how wonderful she looks in her new braces! Alas – she never really answers her phone. She texts. WUWT?

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