“But dad, all my friends have phones and I don’t. Kimberly’s mum got her one for her 12th birthday just last week and I don’t want to be the odd one out,” pleaded my daughter.

I reluctantly looked up from the gift I was struggling to wrap - a Bosch mixer I bought for my wife this Christmas. She sees the Bosch. So I can't tell her that money is the issue..What was a suitable response for this desperate child of mine? It wasn’t the first time we’d had this conversation. My daughter was insistent that she needed a phone and I was just as adamant in declining her request. I just don’t want to open that door yet.

Recently, I was shocked to discover that 56% of kids aged 8-12 have cell phones of their own and that 60% of pre-teens received their first phones by the ages of ten and eleven. I wondered if their parents were fully aware of how new tech affected their kids and just how much information their children were being exposed to.

Here are 3 reasons why I decided to postpone buying my 12-year-old a smartphone:

  1. Identity safety and privacy concerns. It’s not a secret that the internet is crawling with sexual predators, cyberbullies, identity thieves and all manner of unsavory characters. While I have talked to my kids about the need to protect their private information online, reading that 52% of young people don’t turn off their GPS or location settings or –even worse - 14% of kids have posted their home addresses online, fills me with dread. Kids just don’t understand how much information they can reveal to strangers and I want to protect my children as much as I can.
  2. Consumption of inappropriate content. Other than dodgy characters, I also worry about exposing my daughter to inappropriate content online. This runs the gamut from pornography and violent videos or games to cyberbullying and messages that reinforce negative body image. According to experts, too much screen time and exposure to unsuitable online content can lead to psychological problems in children and I want my daughter to grow up healthy.
  3. Smartphones undermine face-to-face connectivity. I believe that arming our kids with smartphones and allowing them unlimited screen time inhibits their ability to have meaningful one-on-one interactions. While phones certainly are useful in helping us keep in touch, nothing can replace face-to-face communication. If all their interactions are made through a screen, kids run the risk of missing out on learning all the nuances of conversation such as facial expressions, body language, tonal variation and non-verbal cues.

So, no thank you; we will not be gifting our children smartphones this year. But we are considering more basic phones for emergency use as well as texting capability with her friends, coaches, and family. We're just trying to put off the dependency of snapchat and other scary forms of teen-absorbing social media.

Author's Bio: 

Tyler enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn