WaitUntil8th

We're looking for a middle school that will have a supportive parent community when it comes to delaying use of the smart phone for kids. It's difficult for the kid unless there are a sufficient number of other kids in her class who are also not on the smart phone. Any middle schools out there where families are pledging with WaitUntil8th.org? 

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RE: WaitUntil8th ()

Two years ago, I responded to a question here on BPN asking what parents wished they had done differently regarding electronics.  Here is my Aug 2017 response.

My daughter was the last person in her 8th grade to get a cell phone (really!).  I thought it wasn't necessary, as I wasn't concerned about safety.  I had read all the media about kids using phones too much.  Now I think that was a mistake.  It cut her off socially from events (because people couldn't reach her) and ongoing chats.  If I had it to do over, I would get her a phone when 50% of her peers had one (not 95%).  When she got a phone, she used it responsibly.  I got my son a phone at the beginning of 7th grade. Our kids charged their phone overnight away from their bedrooms so their sleep was not disturbed.  They were all for it. We told our children that we would track them if we felt it was necessary, but it rarely was (and usually because the cell phone had been misplaced.) Cell phones are the basis for children's social lives.  They are necessary for the last minute arrangements that dominate teenage meetings.  My daughter keeps in touch with friends that don't live locally, and these relationships have enhanced her life.

RE: WaitUntil8th ()

I applaud you for waiting until 8th.  I waited until the end of 8th grade for my now junior and freshman in high school to get a phone and plan to do the same for my sixth grader. I think no matter where your kid goes to school, the pressure will be hard to give in.  I had a much harder time with my daughter than my son BUT she now (somewhat) realizes that we saved her from a lot of grief, distraction, and heartache because she was not constantly drawn to her device.  She read a ton when she had down time rather than scrolling through social media posts.  My son says he likes the freedom of not being answerable all the time as well.  While it is hard to resist the social pressure and nagging from our kids, I'm glad that we did it.  Middle school can be really hard on kids and IMHO smart phones take away their ability to separate themselves from the social pressures at school.  My kids just used our phones occasionally to check in.  #staystrong

RE: WaitUntil8th ()

Hello, our daughter goes to Montera Middle School and does not have a smart phone (she is currently in 7th grade). She has a Nokia candy bar phone that only does text and phone calls, which serves our needs.

I am curious about your assertion that this will be difficult unless other kids do not have a smart phone and that you need a supportive parent community in order to implement this in your household. I don't think this is the case. Our daughter is very opinionated and can lobby with the best of them but we set very clear expectations with her starting in about 4th grade when her peers started getting smart phones (!!) that she would not be getting a smart phone until we decided as a family that is was the right time. This may not be until high school, or 9th grade. We have not decided yet but I don't think she'll be getting a smart phone next year, so we are #waitbeyond8th at this point. 

There are so many other factors that do and should go into you finding the right middle school for your child that I would urge you not to get hung up on this. I don't think you will find any school administration that would endorse the use of smart phones for students (for most of them, students having smart phones is a major struggle). We have had unconditional support from teachers and I think a lot of admiration from other parents for having taken a different path. No other parent or child has tried to talk us out of our approach. If you are reliant on other parents upholding your values, you may be looking for some time on this, and on other issues. The bottom line is that values need to originate at home and your reasons for those values are enough. 

RE: WaitUntil8th ()

Stay strong!  We're waiting until at least high school to give our kids phones (they're in 6th and 8th grade now, and among the last at their school without phones). While I do worry about my kids being excluded, I look back over the past two years of my 8th grader's life and think that he's had MONTHS of time doing something other than texting and scrolling -- playing outside with friends, reading, practicing his instrument, talking to us, etc.  While I very much hear other parents' concerns about kids needing to learn how to use phones responsibly, or needing to get ahold of their kid, I hear more often them complaining about how maddeningly difficult it is to set limits, remind the kid countless times to put their phone down, spend a ton of time reading through their kid's text history in search of something, and worry endlessly about the effect of social media on their kid's self-esteem.  I'd much rather deal with the downside of not having the phone than the downside of having the phone.  Kids are getting more and more isolated from each other as people, and we as adults need to help them build their muscles around human interaction.  The phone gets in the way of all that.  And, if you're at all worried about your kid's executive function skills (e.g. forgetting to turn in assignments in that they've completed, not taking responsibility for simple things around the house), just remember, the phone is getting in the way of your kid's ability to do those things!  There's plenty of research backing up both, and I suspect that 10 years from now, we'll wonder why in the world we thought it was a good idea to give preteens and teens phones.  Worry less about finding a supportive school -- rather, look for the ways in which you see phone-free panning out as more positive for your kid's development and growth, and hold strong to those!  Good luck!

RE: WaitUntil8th ()

My daughter is a young 6th grader and is attending a stand alone middle school.  We opted to give her an apple watch and it has been great!  It is cell phone enabled so she can make/receive calls and texts, but there is no camera or internet access and we control the apps that are on it.  She feels connected to her friends and to us, I can see where she is, she likes to see her steps and she does not feel isolated from her peers (several kids at her school have the same).  It is not a hand held smart device, has no games (some of the other kids do have games but we have opted for none), but she loves it.  Someone with older kids years ago suggested the best thing to do is to consider teaching them how to use devices to help them navigate the world before they stop listening and think they know everything.  My daughter knows she won't have a phone until her Freshman year (or until an earlier time warrants) and she is fine for that for now.

RE: WaitUntil8th ()

I was one of those parents who put off giving my child a cell phone until I realized that a middle schooler is much more independent. They go off with friends all over town, they take public transportation, they make plans with friends after school. I got my son a cell phone for safety purposes. If there is an earthquake or a fire or some similar emergency and I don’t know exactly where he is or how to reach him then that is just plain dangerous. You can negotiate the type of phone, set boundaries about apps but I think every independent child should have a cell phone (and yes it is more convenient for us when we can get a hold of them!)

RE: WaitUntil8th ()

Hi,

 My oldest  child is 18.  She had a smart phone with no restrictions starting in 7th grade.  I feel this was one of my biggest parenting mistake with her.  My second is in 10th grade and has had a phone for voice, text, music, maps and camera since 6th grade.  She is the only kid in her high school class without access to social media on her phone.  She does have instagram, tic toc and Snapchat on my phone and usually uses those apps on my phone about 20 minutes/day.  She does not like this and asks frequently to have apps on her phone.  In a very lucid moment after 9th grade she told me she was glad she did not have social media on her phone in 9th grade because she saw how many problems it caused with her friends.  She is a VERY social kid and not having these apps on her phone has not slowed her down.  With an iPhone, you can use parental restrictions with a password to manage everything on your kids phone.  I actually believe that social media use for girls can reduce live social interactions.  Given the research linking social media use in girls to depression, anxiety and increasing rates of suicide.  I plan to continue with this plan and am very happy I have done so.