In a recent interview with The Mirror, he said:
“We don’t have cell phones at the table when we are having a meal, we didn’t give our kids cell phones until they were 14, and they complained other kids got them earlier,” he said.
“We often set a time after which there is no screen time and, in their case, that helps them get to sleep at a reasonable hour.
“You’re always looking at how it can be used in a great way – homework and staying in touch with friends – and also where it has gotten to excess.”
The average age that kids get their first mobile phone in the United States is now 10.3 years old according to a report from Influence Central.
As I’ve watched my own kids, I’ve seen friends who’ve had phones and Instagram accounts as early as 3rd grade, and those who’ve held off until middle school. There doesn’t seem to be a standard set of cell phone rules out there.
I’m one of those moms that has made my kids wait. UNTIL 8TH GRADE. Can you imagine? I’m the worst mom in the world!?!
Well, turns out, I’m not so bad. Bill Gates makes his kids wait until they are 14 years old, which by the way is the average age of an 8th grader. I feel vindicated (and really smart).
So get over it kids! One of the smartest tech giants on this planet makes his kids wait too.
My older kids are currently in 7th and 8th grade. So far it’s been a benefit to have them wait until 8th grade. They’ve been able to look around at all of their friends staring at a screen on a Friday night (and be the one without a screen) and say to themselves (and everyone else) “Hey guys, this is pretty boring, let’s go do something!”.
I also acknowledge that kids in middle school use texting as their primary form of communication, and that as much as I wish I could make my kids wait even longer to have a cell phone, it’s really a necessary part of their friend network. But that also brings me to my next big phone rule. This one is new:
Phones are meant for communication. End of story. We’re saying goodbye to all of the apps and bells and whistles. Phones are for communicating with people. If they want to play a game, or get on social media or do something for ENTERTAINMENT, I’ve got an iPad loaded and ready for them to check out. Why? So they can make a conscious decision to seek out entertainment, instead of having it at their finger tips as a reflex.
The 14-year-old brain is still growing and developing and struggling with big life skills like SELF MODERATION. Putting a fully loaded device in their hands and asking them to manage it is in my opinion just too much for this age.
What do you think? Please share in the comments and tell us what the cell phone rules are at your house? How are you handling technology with your kids?