The Wait Until Eighth Pledge is not about sexual abstinence, but it could be just as important for your child. Wait Until Eighth is a pledge created by moms for fellow parents to sign as a commitment to wait until at least 8th grade (age 14) to allow their child to have a smart phone. Many people misunderstand the pledge and think it refers to cell phones. The pledge is only referring to smart phones. Meaning that SMART phones are not provided to your kids before age 14/ 8th grade. There are options for cell phones other than smart phones. We will explore our options as a family as my kids get a little older. My kids will have cell phones, but not smart phones before age 14. We will likely start with cell phone watches. The kind that are programmed to only call their parents and have GPS tracking capabilities. Like this one here: https://amzn.to/2oq4Pcb
There is a reason that tech industry leaders in Silicon Valley are not giving smart phones to their own children until they are in their teens or later. They have been following the research and they know how addictive smart phones are for children. They also are aware of the risks involved with smart phone ownership for children. All parents should be as informed as those tech industry leaders, because all of our children are at risk.
Here are some of the reasons why we will hold off on smart phones and why our family signed the Wait Until Eighth Pledge. Much of this info and the links on the research can be found on the pledge website: https://www.waituntil8th.org/why-wait
- Research has shown that smart phones are highly addictive and kids who own them will spend more time online and on social media. These children who have increased online usage are more susceptible to depression.
- Owning a smart phone and being on social media creates the opportunity for cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is a real problem. Almost all of us will experience some form of cyber bullying in our lifetime. Why expose our young children to this when they are so impressionable and emotionally vulnerable? Kids are committing suicide because of cyber bullying and they are not even teens yet. We can reduce the risk by limiting their online exposure and not giving them open access through smart phone ownership at a young age.
- Sexual predators and human traffickers use online video games and social media to find victims. Your tween may be thinking they are talking with a cute boy the same age when in fact they are connecting and creating a relationship with a 45 year old pedophile. Don’t think that this is something that can’t happen to your child. Any child can be deceived online; relationships form and in their mind the person is who they think they are and they couldn’t possibly be tricked. They miss all the warning signs and deny the truth even when it so obvious to outsiders. Watch the show Catfish and you can see it happens to adults all the time.
- Deception is more likely to happen in your household. Kids get addicted to their phones and the apps they like using. Those that are considered more dangerous they can become great at hiding. For example, there is a calculator app, that isn’t really a calculator, but instead it is a way to hide apps that parents won’t allow. It is really hard to keep up with which apps are the most risky and how to prevent them from hiding things from you on their phone. Responsibility comes with age and maturity.
- Porn addiction is a real problem in our society. Smart phones make it even easier to access and hide this content. Sexting is real too. Many kids get conned into talking nude photos and sending them to people they think they can trust. Once the photos are online, they are as good as permanent.
- Kids who are exposed to high levels of screen time (which often happens once kids have a smart phone) have negative effects on their brain development and makes their test scores go down. Our young children have brains that are still developing. Why would we want to make our kids dumber on purpose?
- Kids who own smart phones are more susceptible to sleep problems. They wake themselves thinking about the texts, private massages, and comments on social media that may be coming in while they sleep. Research has proven this connection of sleep issues and smart phone usage with children.
- Kids only have so much time in the day to play, be creative, and create real relationships. When kids are given smart phones research shows that their relationships with family members decline. Less face to face time and more time on their smart phone screens is the problem. Time on their smart phone gives them less time to play, develop their creativity, and develop meaningful relationships with family and friends.
Will my kids own cell phones before 8th grade/ age 14? Yes. They most certainly will have a basic phone that can allow them to call and even text friends and family. However, this does not include smart phones. I signed the pledge and I hope other parents will consider doing the same to protect the childhood and development of their own kids. They are only kids once! They have an entire lifetime to use smart phones and technology as adults. Limiting their time on smart phones during childhood can only benefit them in the long run. To learn more about the pledge and to sign it yourself go to: https://www.waituntil8th.org/why-wait
P.S. I am not affiliated with the Wait Till Eighth Pledge or Movement. I am merely a concerned parent who wants other parents to be informed.