How to Know If Your Kid is Ready for a Smartphone

How to Know if Your Teen is Ready for a SmartphoneHow to Know if Your Teen is Ready for a SmartphoneWe've got less than a month before our cellular carrier contract expires. Right now, I'm the only one in the house with a smart phone but that might change with our next contract agreement. As of now however, no clear decisions have been made and it seems the Clark family is at odds as to how we will be proceeding.
I've done extensive research on phone upgrades and data plans. We have had civil conversations and heated debates about it. These kinds of disputes aren't really like us. We don't often engage in whole family battles but in the case of the smart phone(s), the tensions are high and the pressure is mounting. There have been grievances aired, differences identified, ultimatums made, bargain pleas offered up, and still, there's no truce in sight.

At first I thought the main issue at hand was money. For the longest time my husband and I agreed that we didn't need the Internet via our phones. The extra cost seemed superfluous as it seemed we could always find a way to connect online when we needed to. But, two years ago -- when my work schedule called for a lot of travel -- I decided that the pros of convenient connection far outweighed the cons of cost and I got my first smart phone. I have never looked back (surprise surprise). And so now, I feel the time has come to bring my husband and teenage daughter up to speed, so to speak, but my husband is still holding on to the idea that they don't really need it. I thought all I would have to do was show that the increase in monthly cost was extremely low, which it is. But, as it turns out, that's not the real issue.

Related: 18 cell phone rules my son has to follow

You might be thinking if he doesn't need a smart phone then why push the issue. It's not him I'm worried about. My 15-year-old have been patiently waiting for a smart phone for some time now and I would like to afford her that. She's a sophomore in high school! It's the social norm to have a smart phone and I, being a social media mom, don't see anything wrong with that. Plus, she's always borrowing mine and I don't want to share anymore. Instead, I want to encourage her mobile phone photography and want her to be able to easily access what she needs when she needs it (from school work stuff to social media to a variety of important and maybe even not important info). I think it's time. She couldn't agree more and she's even offered to pay for her own data costs. See what I mean about money not being the issue anymore?

I know my daughter will not only love and take care of a smart phone, she will use it wisely. Because she's got a track record with everything else that proves it. I don't see it as anything but a positive choice for her-for us. But, I'm not the only one making family decisions and-you know where this is going-I'm getting major resistance from my husband. If he doesn't see a need for a smartphone for himself, then he certainly doesn't see the need for our teenager. And if it's not about money any more than what is it about?

I have a number of theories as to why he's digging his heels in on this one. It could be a distaste for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or a belief that we as a society have become chronically distracted by our phones, or that only real winners in this data plan game are the carriers themselves, or that social norms don't have to be Clark family norms. I have my hunches that it's a combo of all of these things but it's all a guessing game from here. Although it feels like he might be the last holdout on the smart phone point, I'm guessing he's not. So please, tell me, have you had this same battle in your home? Or do you know other households that struggle over issues of a tech nature? Being at odds over something like this isn't what I'm used so navigating it hasn't been easy. We have a month to decide, er, agree, on our next contract commitment. Here's to hoping that we can somehow find a happy smart phone medium -- emphasis on happy.

- By Tracey Clark
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