The biggest pain point for many parents is—you guessed it—smartphones. Should our kids own them? If so, how do we keep them from owning our kids?
A typical family with mom and dad and 2 kids will spend, between monthly contracts, hardware, and apps, around three to four thousand dollars a year on smartphones. And what do they get for this significant financial investment?
According to David Eaton of Axis, most parents report feeling utterly defeated by them. They are causes of frustration and worry, and they get in the way of conversation and eye contact. And they are the cause of a yelling match, whenever a parent tries to bring them under control.
Do we own our smartphones? Or do they own us?
It doesn't take a PhD in social science to realize that smartphones are one of the primary pain points for modern families. Of course, they're not all bad. Smartphones enable us to keep tabs on our kids. Smartphones allow our kids to contact us in case of an emergency. They provide navigation help, safe banking options, etc, etc etc. Not to mention, these amazing devices allow grandparents and other long-distance family members to keep in touch, real time, and be more of a part of our kids' lives.
On the other hand, smartphones put our kids at risk. Because of smartphones, sexting is now for many a normal part of high school. As Eaton told me recently, girls at a Christian school where Axis was presenting expressed that they wished the boys there would ask them for nude pics. In other words, in the smartphone era, this is how the girls know they're wanted.
We all know the list of risks smartphones bring to our kids: sexual predators, online porn, cyber-bullying – not to mention, as if I need to state the obvious, addiction. Smartphones provide a perpetual distraction, and get in the way of face time – no, not the iPhone app – real face to face time, something every kid needs with their parents. And if most of us parents are honest, we're just as addicted as our kids.
Even if our kids don't have smartphones, their friends do. We might have our own homes locked down pretty tightly, but not everyone does. So many of the risks are still there.