My eldest son has reached the age where a good number of his friends have cell phones. So from time to time he comes home and asks, “Dad why can’t I have a phone?” I grab him by the shoulders, look him straight in the eyes, and with my best Father Knows Best voice I say, “Son, because your parents are cheap.” He responds with pleas for me to be serious. To which I respond in an even more somber voice, “Son, I’m being deadly serious.”
In all honesty, though, occasionally it would be helpful for him to have his own phone. I could go on an archeological dig and unearth an old Nokia 3310 to give him for his birthday. “Happy Birthday Son!” But I really doubt he would find it as hilarious as I would. The dilemma is that phones are no longer just phones. So, I am stuck with giving one of my old smartphones to a boy about to enter his teenage years. To me that seems just about as smart as the teachers at Hogwarts giving all of those kids magic wands. I really question the wisdom in that. “Hey kids, no glass of wine until you are 21, but here’s a wand that you can use to cast a myriad of spells that could end all of your classmate’s lives. Have at it. Don’t be late for deadly witch basketball practice at three.” We see how that ended up. Lots of dead people and the destruction of half of their school. Smartphones put a pandora’s box of information literally at your fingertips. I’m not sure if you all know this, but the internet is full of nefarious stuff. I’m not just talking about those millions of cat videos. As if cats weren’t disturbing enough. Not to mention the fact that he will be able to instantly communicate with his friends through text, picture, and video. That seems like a recipe for trouble as well. (As a side note. I have decided that my least favorite feature on my phone,,,, is the actual phone. I would prefer people not be able to get ahold of me. It interrupts my constant scrolling of Twitter.)
What is a parent to do? Well, I have decided that I am going to be craftier than a Russian hacker. His phone is going to be loaded with more spyware than John Podesta’s ever was. Not only will I be able know where he goes on the internet, I will be able to know where he physically goes. Then, every morning, I’ll give him the old, ‘I’m watching you’, signal. To which he will probably roll his eyes.
He is a good kid. It’s my job as a parent to help him stay that way. If I have to give him a smartphone that has so many locks on it that it’s basically a Nokia, so be it.