5 Surprising Benefits Of Kids Having Phones

closeup of teenage girl using her cell phone

This article originally appeared on iMOM.com and reflects their mission and beliefs.

When our daughter sat us down at the kitchen table, armed and ready with a PowerPoint presentation called “Why I Should Get a Phone,” my husband and I looked at each other and said, “Here we go again.” Like most teens, our daughter was insistent that a phone would make everything better—as if the sun, moon, and stars would finally align. My husband and I were still dragging our feet because we didn’t want to be the first parents of our friend group to “give in.” Couldn’t someone else be the guinea pig?

After weighing the pros and cons, we agreed that she could have a trial period with one of our old phones. I knew giving her a phone would provide additional safety and security, but these 5 additional benefits of kids having phones were an unexpected surprise.

1. Global Connectedness

Phones make the world feel a little smaller. My sister lives overseas, and the rest of our family is in Michigan, but video chats keep them connected even when the miles keep them apart. Our daughter has a weekly FaceTime date with her aunt in China, and it’s fun watching them build a relationship—even if it’s over a screen. Prior to having a phone, she was out of the loop and “left out” of group chats and family connections.

2. Earned Trust

We always remind our kids that trust is earned, and it’s much easier to keep trust rather than re-earn it. The analogy of a dog on a leash works perfectly here, in that the leash is very short when the environment is new. Just as a puppy doesn’t roam free in the streets, our daughter doesn’t roam free on her phone. The “leash” is slowly extended as she becomes more familiar with her surroundings, and we trust (because she’s earned it) that she knows how to safely navigate the next small step or bend in the road. We continuously monitor the situation, but we’re seeing how slowly extending the leash is a necessary part of helping our children become trustworthy adults.

3. Memory-Making

Our phones serve as a digital diary. I used to hand my phone over every time my daughter wanted to take a picture, but that meant I was the keeper of her memories. On her fifth-grade field trip, she kept asking me to take pictures at every Universal Studios landmark. I didn’t mind taking pictures, but what was I supposed to do with them at the end of the day? Email them to her? Nope. Text them? Not possible. Now, years later, having a phone allows her to have her own collection of memories.

4. Responsibility

Phones are expensive devices that require many layers of responsibility. Teaching kids how to properly care for a phone (charging, cleaning, managing apps and storage) is a great stepping stone for other tasks that require responsibility. Our daughter pays for a small portion of the monthly plan cost, and it only took paying for one cracked screen for her to tighten up how she handles her phone.

5. Meaningful Check-Ins

The gift of small connections is my favorite aspect of my daughter having a phone. She texts me throughout the day with updates that would otherwise go unmentioned. I get to hear the “little things” like how her math teacher complimented her Hamilton t-shirt or how embarrassed she was when water spilled all over her lap in civics. These quick connections make me feel like I have a lens into her world and it’s definitely one of the benefits of kids having phones.

Before you buy…

While I currently have no regrets about giving our daughter a phone, our son isn’t even remotely ready. The upside for one kid could easily be the downside for another. Where our daughter loves using her phone to connect with family, another child may use the phone to connect with someone unsafe. Collecting photos of flowers, friends, and animals could easily turn to inappropriate photos that can never be unseen or unsent. Broken trust can lead to lost responsibility, and phones have the potential to be used for more harm than good. Before you buy your child a phone, think carefully about the consequences and even then, move forward with clear rules and a cell phone contract.

What are some of the benefits of kids having phones that you’re hoping to experience?

This article originally appeared on iMOM.com and reflects their mission and beliefs.

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