by Academy dad, Eric Hodges

Every family today deals with the question of whether, or when, to get a smartphone for their children. When asked, most parents give two primary reasons: first, for the child’s safety when away from parents. Second, because everyone else is doing it. This “everyone else” reason can come from the children, who see their peers getting phones, or from the parents, who see their friends getting phones for their children. 

Nonetheless, we wonder if it’s appropriate to give our children phones. We’ve gone to restaurants and seen families sitting at tables not interacting with one another, but instead staring at phones or tablets. We know about all the harmful content that is available on a cell phone. Perhaps we’ve even heard about studies which claim that cell phone use by children lowers attention spans, often leads to depression and other mental health problems, can cause addiction, and so on. If we’re honest with ourselves, we must admit to having misused cell phones ourselves, either by using them too frequently, cutting ourselves off from those around us, or accessing content we know isn’t good for our souls.

On balance, it seems that absent the two reasons commonly cited above, we would hold off indefinitely in giving our children phones. Fortunately, there are solutions. If you’re concerned about your child’s safety, they still make “dumb” phones. A quick search of “flip phone” or “dumb phone” will yield many results, from phones with only four buttons that call pre-programmed numbers, to trendy minimalist wafers with black-and-white screens and GPS navigation. Such devices can provide your child the ability to contact you at any time, without exposing him to social media or the internet.

Getting around the second objection is something that lies in the hands of us collectively, as Classical Academy parents. By having a student at the Classical Academy, you have already proven your family to be at least somewhat counter-cultural. You are willing to eschew public schools, the most common educational option and the path of least resistance. You are willing to be a committed Christian in an age where that is more likely to lower your social standing than raise it. You are willing to walk the Narrow Road and avoid the more popular Broad Road that Christ warned us about. This is all made easier because you are on the journey with others who believe and act likewise.

Eschewing smartphones for our kids should be relatively easy to add to our list of counter-cultural credentials. The Classical Academy already takes a light-handed approach to technology, emphasizing age-old methods of face-to-face instruction, reading, and writing. Now all we need is a significant majority of parents willing to say ‘no’ to phones for their children, and we can provide one another with the positive reinforcement we need to do what is best for our kids. Will you join us?