I’m the parent who has decided I don’t want my kids to have cell phones. Not until they’re much older anyway.
I know plenty of people whose young, elementary-age children already have phones and access to unsupervised internet usage.
But in this home? That won’t be happening for as long as I can help it.
My daughter is almost nine, and she’s already asking me for a phone. She doesn’t understand why I tell her no and will for years still to come. Letting kids have cell phones means they suddenly have access to all forms of social media, apps, and the internet, and it becomes harder to monitor what they’re doing.
Currently, my kids are still young (my 9-year-old is the oldest) and so for now, they don’t have access to the internet unless they are using my phone or laptop. They don’t have their own tablets or devices, and I never let them online without my husband or me there to supervise.
You may not agree. You may think I’m being unreasonable. But hear me out.
I’ve seen the dangers of the internet, firsthand—I lived it as a young girl myself.
My story goes like this: I’m the girl who didn’t grow up with a present and loving father. I’m the girl who questioned her worth because if my own father couldn’t love me, who could? I’m the girl who was bullied and who didn’t have friends and who was battling depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. I’m the girl who was either invisible to boys or actively made fun of and put down because I wasn’t considered pretty.
So I spent my teenage years seeking approval and affection. I got myself into some pretty bad situations in my attempts to feel loved. I did things I’m not proud of. When you’re young and hurting, you don’t make the best decisions.
At the age of 14, I started going onto different websites looking for someone who would love me. I didn’t have a present mother either and was pretty much on my own. So no one knew what I was doing.
No one knew I had found my way onto dangerous platforms and was talking to complete strangers. Many of these strangers I was talking to told me they were in their 20s at the time, and 14-year-old me thought it was cool to have the attention of older men. I was talked into sending nude photos. I thought it was OK because “everyone did it” and I justified what I was doing.
I’m lucky I didn’t get myself killed, honestly.
Looking back now as an adult with the knowledge I have, I can see how bad and how truly dangerous that was. I can see how I was manipulated by older men who should have known better. I can see how that was active pedophilia, and I was an innocent child who didn’t understand what I was doing.
I’ve carried such guilt in my heart over my actions, and I’m learning to let it go and forgive myself. Because I was just a child. Someone should have been watching me and paying attention to what I was doing. Those adults who took advantage of me should have known better, and they belong in jail.
For years, I went through life feeling like damaged goods. Between the issues I had from growing up without a father and the issues I brought upon myself by seeking out affection wherever I could get it–I was left feeling broken and defeated.
It wasn’t until well into my adult years that I truly understood the love of God and let Him transform my life. I welcomed His forgiveness and peace and finally stopped beating myself up for the choices my younger self made.
It wasn’t until after years of being married and experiencing unconditional love from my husband and watching him be the father to our children that I so longed for when I was a young girl that I felt for the first time in my life like I was whole.
So now that I have children of my own, I know I have to love and protect them at any cost. They may not like being the kid without a phone. They may be upset with me for it.
But one day, I hope they’ll thank me—for giving them a true childhood free from the distraction of phones.
Free from the evil that is out there just waiting for unsuspecting, vulnerable young minds to come along. Because it’s only become worse since I was a teenager.
Predators are everywhere online. They use video games, popular social media sites, and things specifically geared toward children. And it isn’t just the predators that are an issue. It’s the content that is in games, music, and shows our kids are being exposed to every day. Our job as parents is to keep our kids safe and protect their young hearts and minds.
So my kids will not have cell phones for as long as I can help it. They won’t have access to the internet unsupervised in any way. Not until they are old enough to grasp the dangers that are out there and make safe choices. And even then, I will be using parental controls and apps to see what my kids are doing.
Not to be controlling. Not to take away their privacy. But to keep them safe.
Because kids don’t fully understand the dangers that are out there. Kids don’t know how to make the best decisions. That’s why they rely on us to set rules and boundaries and to do everything in our power to protect them. And you can bet I will always put my kids’ safety and well-being ahead of everything else. Even if it means they’re temporarily upset with me.