I don’t know what the right age is to give your child a smartphone. But I do know that before you do, you should ask yourself the following question:

Does my child really need this device?

Banning smartphones or tablets might seem short-sided. Your kids might use them for schoolwork and it might be helpful for them to get tech-educated at an early age to compete in the professional realm in their later lives. But the risks might far outstrip the rewards. The question is this – what is the effect of smartphone use on young children and preteens? It oftentimes feels that an overdose of technology use tends to make us more isolated, egotistical, and lazy. Are those the attributes we want to foster in our children?

Here are a few reasons to consider banning handheld devices for your children and preteens:

1. Encourage Other Pursuits

Incessant smartphone use robs our kids of valuable learning and play time. It’s time that they could spend pursuing other interests like reading, daydreaming, playing, art, music, sports, creating friendships, and getting closer to nature, among other things. That smartphone can be like an anchor that weighs them down and keeps them chained to the couch or to their bed. Sure, a smartphone can be a vital learning tool, but the temptation to wile away the hours playing games and mindlessly searching the Internet can be incredibly strong and debilitating.

2. Teach Them Moderation

Too much of anything is not a good idea and by building in a much-needed break for your children from their devices, you will help them learn the much-needed skill of moderation. Sure, in doses, a smartphone, like many other things, is fine. It’s one hobby among many. By removing the device from your kids; lives for a period of time, you will be enabling them to see the value of other pursuits. It will also give them a greater appreciation for the time that they do have their smartphone.

3. Build Better Relationships

Smartphones have the possibility of taking over a young person’s life and giving them a false sense of friendships and social interactions. Most relationships and friendships are built face-to-face, not screen-to-screen. By taking away your child’s smartphone or tablet, you will force them to interact and work on those social skills that they will need in their adult lives.

4. More Well-Rounded

There are many things that our devices can teach us and for children, they can be important learning tools. Many schools, in fact, are introducing devices into the school curriculum because our children will be using them for the rest of their lives. But like any teaching tool, a device is not the end all, be all. It is one tool in a toolbox and an unhealthy reliance on devices from an early age will likely be more harmful to our children than helpful.

5. Make Them Less Dependent On Tech in the Future

Believe it or not, there will be times in their future lives when our children won’t be a slave to their smartphone or tablet. By creating space for them to be without their devices, we can give them an understanding of the times when they don’t need or shouldn’t use technology. For instance, meal time, family time, and some down time should be tech-free. 

6. Avoid Dangerous Elements of Society

We know that predators and people looking to prey on our children often go virtually where they are – on social media sites. The longer that we can keep our kids away from those sites, the better. In fact, it gives our kids more time to mature and more time for us to school them in the ways of social media and what might lurk out there awaiting them.

7. It’s a Crutch

Many times I see children using devices when parents are trying to find a babysitter so they don’t have to be bothered with parenting. I would never chastise a parent for needing a little free time. I know how challenging the juggling act that parents engage in hourly can be. It helps to recuperate by getting away from the kids for a little bit. However, I can’t help but think that many parents opt for a knee-jerk reaction to hand a device to our children rather than parent them. That’s a crutch and it’s not good for our kids or for us.