In our new community, kids are much more “free range” than they were in our old community. I consider this a really good thing. I personally thought the parenting culture of my prior community was a little more “helicopterish” than I would prefer. Of course, my kids were much younger then, too, and you rather have to be “helicopterish” with young kids! Little kids’ favorite pastime is to try to find ways to kill themselves on an hourly – nay, minute-by-minute – basis.
The reason my prior community was less “free range,” however, also probably had something to do with the difference in state laws. In my prior state, children could not be left home alone (except for a “reasonable time”) before the age of 14. Recently, in a community that I grew up in, the police were called when a mother allowed her 8-year old to walk her dog around the block by herself. And people wonder about the rise of “helicopter parenting!” For. The. Love.
Here there is no age restriction. Parents can use their best judgment based on the age and abilities of their children. I love common sense!
Now my kids are almost 11 (gasp!) and almost 9 (going on 16), and they can – and should – have more freedom and growing independence for their social and emotional development. Lately, the girls have been meeting friends at the park near our house. The park is but a 2 minute bike or scooter ride from our house. We are also fortunate to live in a very safe community. As long as they are not by themselves but with friends, I am comfortable with this. However, we have been asking that they check-in with us every 20 to 30 minutes or so, just so we know they are okay. Their friends, on the other hand, don’t have to do this because they have smartwatches.
This got me thinking: Should my kids have smartwatches?
Here are the reasons I don’t want them:
- The extra expense. I only *recently* started paying for my own smartphone. I only *got* a smartphone in 2015, and that was because my employer paid for it. The Hub’s employer pays for his. I don’t like monthly expenses. I am trying to keep them down, not increase them.
- The Creepy “Big Brother” Factor. I want my kids to feel like they are trusted. Not tracked.
- 5G. I keep hearing this is bad. I need to actually read about why it is bad. I trust it is bad because it reminds me of how I kept hearing about how GMOs are bad and then I finally got around to learning about it and was like: “OMG, GMOs are BAD.” I have no idea if having a smartwatch will expose my kids to more 5G radiation, but I am guessing (some serious guessing here) that it will.
- If that sounds a little too woo-woo for you, I come back to the expense and the creepy factor.
Here’s why I do want them:
- They can call me when I am worried about them.
- And I am always worried about them.
- Becoming a parent increased my anxiety and paranoia levels to an all time high.
But that brings me to other reasons I don’t want them:
- I don’t want to cave into my anxiety and ridiculously overactive imagination because:
- Statistics and rational thought tell me that they will be FINE.
- The Hub and I survived our childhoods and adolescence without smartwatches (or smartphones, or cell phones, etc.) and there is no reason my children cannot either.
- They will learn to be more resourceful without them.
Okay, so I guess that settles it. I am not getting my kids smartwatches.
Econ-Mom: I honestly could go either way on this, for the exact reasons you outlined here! Such a hard decision Law-Mom, thanks for paving the way for me on this one!
I am also anxious about my kids all the time! Just yesterday, Tuffy asked me if he could walk home from school by himself and my first reaction was “NO WAY!” Now, his school is literally around the corner from our house. But of course, I’m not 100% sure how people would react if they saw him walking by himself – I don’t want the cops called on me! And, of course, what if he got lost? It’s so unlikely, but the fear factor is so high! And unfortunately, ASD kiddos are more likely to die because they have wandered off and gotten lost (though, again, I’m sure statistics are still firmly on the side of “nothing will happen if they’re out of your sight for 5 minutes,” especially given how well Tuffy functions in the world these days). I guess I would imagine myself in this case eventually getting the watch, just because knowing Tuffy, there is no way he would be able to remember to check in with me every 30 minutes! (Actually a lot of ASD parents get GPS trackers for their kids, so I might go with that.) But I 100% support you not getting the girls a watch! For better or worse, I’m fairly resigned to the Big Brother stuff (sorry Law-Mom) but I do feel that we could all use less technology in our lives!