Getting rid of smartphone?

Our daughter, now a young adult (not yet independent), is considering getting rid of her smartphone. While part of me thinks this could be great, part of me is worried that she’d be getting rid of something that has the potential to keep her safe. Admittedly, emergencies happen infrequently (and hopefully never), but I’ve always considered having the phone a huge advantage for situations where one is lost, in danger, etc.   I certainly find it reassuring to be able to contact her fairly easily as well. 

While I don’t disagree that cutting down on smartphone use (and screen time in general) could benefit many of us, I think I’m more concerned about the potential loss of safety. Also, couldn’t she just train herself to use it less, if its ubiquitous presence is getting to her?

What do other parents think?

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RE: Getting rid of smartphone? ()

I think you should have a discussion with her. She is an adult and will be making her own decisions. The best you can hope is that she will listen to you. Tell her about your worries, fears and hope. Talk to her about the pros and cons. Admit that this is a decision that is not etched in stone and can change. And let it go. 

RE: Getting rid of smartphone? ()

Hi, there. One thing you haven't shared here is WHY she is considering getting rid of the phone. Is it that she is concerned about her own screen addictions? Does she want to replace it with an old-school phone?

A smart phone is an extremely useful tool - google maps in particular springs to mind. Being able to call the police wherever you are. Taking photographs in key situations.

Two possible compromises, depending on her intent: get rid of all of the social media apps - just dump them. Right after my daughter got her first smart phone, she found herself obsessed with Instagram, etc. She jettisoned them all, and hasn't used them since. And she could go back to the old style phone.

RE: Getting rid of smartphone? ()

What about switching to a "dumb phone"? There are a variety out there designed for kids (or adults who don't want the distraction of a smart phone) who just want basic talk and text capabilities. Then she'd still be able to have the safety net and communication, but not the apps and screen time.

RE: Getting rid of smartphone? ()

I understand your concerns; however, I also applaud your daughter for considering this step. She seems fairly self-aware of what she wants to self-regulate. Perhaps there's a way to support her choices as an adult, while addressing your concerns for her safety.  Consider having an open ended conversation with your daughter: This is a brave step you're considering and I applaud your independent thinking. I worry about your personal safety and how you might get help in the event of an emergency.  I would be devastated if anything happened to you, particularly if it were because you weren't able to call for help.  How might we balance your desire to ditch the smartphone with my concerns for your personal safety? See what she suggests, and encourage more from her, then ask if she's open to a suggestion you have. It will be interesting to see what comes out, and she may invest in the problem solving - collaboration instead of arguing.

A couple of things you might consider:

Do an experiment of a set period of time, perhaps start with a week, where her smartphone is turned off and locked away and see how it goes.

Consider a stripped down phone - an old-fashioned flip phone, or a Simple Smartphone (www.simplesmartphone.com), or similar.

Letting go and respecting an emerging adult's decisions is hard work.  Good luck.

RE: Getting rid of smartphone? ()

She definitely doesn't *need* a smartphone. The only safety issues I can think of can be easily remedied. First, since there are no longer any working pay phones, she can carry just a regular inexpensive phone, like a flip phone, for emergencies and such. Second, like we had to do when we were younger she can carry maps in her car or in her bag in case she gets lost. Hopefully fold up maps like we used to get at AAA are still being printed! Other than that, there is nothing that important on a smart phone.

RE: Getting rid of smartphone? ()

If she wants to go cold turkey I can understand that. When our son was a young middle schooler we got him a flip phone. Perfect for emergencies and rudimentary texting. She could do that. The only other concern I would have is that we have gotten so used to having maps on our phones that we don't carry them in our cars anymore. You might suggest that she make sure she has a collection of maps. I don't think we even have any city maps in the house anymore. 

RE: Getting rid of smartphone? ()

Of course I don't know all the circumstances of your daughter's inclination to ditch her phone, but I would RACE to embrace her impulse. This is a great opportunity to learn from her what facets of her smartphone feel like they have the capacity to do her harm or take over her life--you'll get all kinds of insight into what she's going through. And if you're concerned for her safety and want to be able to reach her, suggest replacing her smartphone with a "dumb" phone such as a Jitterbug or flip phone--you'll be able to call or text her, but she won't have access to Snapchat or other social media apps, or endless YouTube video time, whatever it is that may be alluring or troubling to her. If she has a feeling that her phone is addictive, then no: She can't just train herself to use it less. It's a whole lot easier to stop buying ice cream than it is to fight the temptation to eat it at 10pm when it's sitting right at hand in the freezer. 

RE: Getting rid of smartphone? ()

I think that it's great that your daughter would like to get rid of her smartphone.  I think that it's hard to have the self-control not to be obsessed with them; once you have one, they are hard to resist. If she wants to go smartphone free, I'd support her! Why not get her an old "dumb" phone.  Until recently this is what our family still used, and it provides the option of being able to call and stay in touch when needed without all the distractions of a smart phone.  I'm sort of sorry that we all upgraded.  We are still all light smart phone users in the scheme of things compared to other people, but I find myself more tied to it than I want to be and am not sure that it adds to the quality of my life compared to my old flip phone.  Good for your daughter for bucking the technology trend! 

RE: Getting rid of smartphone? ()

I think the key word here is *considering*. I think she’s either going through a phase or trying to get attention. Let her live without a smartphone and see how long she lasts. I give her 2 weeks max. 

RE: Getting rid of smartphone? ()

You don’t say how old she is but I would trust her in this for sure. I view smart phone addiction and related depression and lack of concentration that is associated with it as a much bigger risk than not carrying s phone in case of an emergency. Everyone has a phone so if she needs one she can ask someone to make a call for her. I plan to delay giving my son a phone for as long as possible. 

RE: Getting rid of smartphone? ()

I got rid of my own smartphone and the only regret I have is that no one is making really nice dumb phones at this time. I would happily pay hundreds of dollars for a nice feature phone with no internet or wifi access. I use a Cricket phone that cost me $25 and is $25 a month for unlimited talk and text. It's there in emergencies, but I am free from the nagging ever-present urge to check my email one more time. The fact is that screens and smart phones are addictive. They trigger the dopamine receptors in our brain, and if someone feels they have enough of a problem to warrant quitting smart phones altogether, just training herself to use it less is about as likely as an alcoholic training himself not to want that extra drink. For me, getting rid of the smart phone has been a huge relief and I felt like I was finally taking the shutters off and seeing the world the way I did before the internet became omnipresent. I would be proud of your daughter for recognizing the problem and being willing to buck the current trends in search of a saner, more present world.

RE: Getting rid of smartphone? ()

I want to thank everyone who responded so thoughtfully to my query about our daughter’s wanting to get rid of her smartphone - I appreciate the feedback and suggestions. I didn’t mention (but should have) that she does want to carry a “dumb” phone. The safety aspect I was thinking of with the smartphone was not only the ability to make a call, but if you need to dial 911, I understand you can be found that way if it’s a smart phone?  I’m possibly going too far with my thoughts here - will sheepishly admit I watch far too much true crime...(hanging head). As far as why, yes, it is her screen time, and the way it takes up so much of her life. Several years back, she (of the 2000 FB friends) gave up her Facebook account, and has been very happy with that decision. I think it’s mostly being constantly bombarded with texts / having to pay attention to it every waking hour...  Again, really appreciate everyone’s thoughts. 

RE: Getting rid of smartphone? ()

Hi! first, bravo your daughter is thinking about ditching her smartphone. Our kids (12+13) are not allowed to have a smartphone however, they have cheapo flip phones so we can call and text them. It is used for only for the purpose of communication. Text/call when they arrive somewhere, if plans change, meet me out front, dont forget xyz.. etc. It works great for our purposes and avoids all the negative aspects of having a smartphone. good luck!