Keep your kid dialled out

Keep your kid dialled out

Parents have their reasons for allowing their kids to own a mobile phone (or not). My seven-year-old daughter once asked me to buy her a mobile phone, in spite of the fact that she knew what my answer would be. She cited examples of her friends, who bring them to school — some even have iPhones!

Grade two students are too young to have mobile phones. Yet my daughter persisted. She kept asking why her friends could have one when she could not.

Still, there are benefits of kids having mobile phones. It allows for parents to easily communicate with their kids about things such as picking them up at school. They might also need a mobile phone for emergencies or other problems.

My daughter asked when she could have one, asking me to be specific and promise to buy her a phone when that time comes. I haven’t committed yet, telling her that once I believe she is mature enough to take care for her things, I will think about buying her one. As long as her father and I are picking up after my daughter, it’s unnecessary for her to take a mobile phone to school.

It’s not just a matter of her losing the phone, either. It could also potentially distract her from learning. For now, it’s a waste of money and time. It’s unnecessary and unsafe.

Owning a mobile phone might be the new norm among primary school students, but I still insist that they are too young. Children should be allowed to play with electronic gadgets, at home, under time limits, after they finish their homework and under adult supervision. Playing electronically isn’t necessarily bad, but also must not affect other, more important things, especially bedtimes and real-world interactions.

At home, we don’t have strict rules prohibiting the use of mobile phones at the dining table, but as parents, we never use them. We dine with our children and this seems to pay off. Kids learn much through the actions of adults.

Our kids, however, are not allowed to play with smartphones or tablets while we are in the car. This is because I’m concerned about their eyesight.

Last weekend, I had lunch with friends and my two daughters. After lunch,
I offered to drop one of my friends off at her place, as it was on the way home. She then called her teenage daughter, who had just finished an extra tutorial class, to join us. So there were five of us in the car.

The whole way, my talkative kids were teasing and singing songs. They always enjoy having extra passengers, sometimes too much.

On the contrary, my friend’s daughter remained mute. I thought she might have just been shy and feeling uncomfortable. My friend, who sat beside to me, was busy as well, looking down at her phone. She rarely spoke, just sometimes giggled when the girls were singing and laughing. My friend then looked up from her phone and said: “You are so calm. Does your husband also have a cool head?”

She was wondering how I had so much patience for my noisy kids. But I think that’s the nature of the kids. I told her
I liked the sounds of my kids being happy.

That moment also made me think about a video clip featuring people in the age of social media. I was blown away by the video’s ideas: “We are a generation of idiots. Smartphones but dumb people. We are part of this machine, this digital world. We are heard but not seen, we type more than we talk, we read and chat. We spend hours together without making eye contact.”

After dropping my friend and her girl at home, my kids asked me why auntie and her kid did not speak and why she played with her phone the whole time. I just told them that one day, when they have their own phones, this excessive use of mobile phones won’t be tolerated.

Sasiwimon Boonruang writes about IT for the Life section of Bangkok Post.

Sasiwimon Boonruang

Writer for the Life section

Sasiwimon Boonruang is a writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.

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