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When Is My Child Ready for a Cellphone?
Montessori Elementary School in San Diego Director Offers Tips for Kids' Phone Use
By: Lifetime Montessori school
"The first question a parent should ask is 'what does my child need a phone for and when will they need it,'" Kristin Edwards, says.
"It should fulfill a purpose and the process of making that decision is making contact in case of an emergency," she said. "Latchkey kids may live ten minutes away from school but if there's no home phone…what do they do in an emergency?"
Tween's Social Relevancy Needs vs. Parent's Monitoring Needs
Once you've decided if the need for a phone exists, how can parents help kids be safe with the device? The answer: monitoring.
- monitor what they watch on them
- monitor where their children are
- monitor their text messages, and
- monitor game use.
A phone is a communications tool but also fulfills another role—the fear of missing out (FOMO). Elementary school students find it hard to be socially relevant to their peers when they don't have a gaming tool. They are left out of peer conversations because they are not engaged with their world. As such, parents can buy an iPad for games. But, a phone fulfills two roles.
Technology in Montessori: What Would Maria Montessori Do?
110 years ago, Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori Method, lived in a world without technology. There was no radio, no TV, and telephones were a luxury. If given a look back to 1910, she may have seen two needs concerning technology in Montessori.
On the one hand, children need to use their brains to grow. They need to see, feel, touch and taste the real world around them. And, yes, there's a need for technology in Montessori; tech is important when it has a real, live purpose.
Maria Montessori might have seen that students need to know how to use technology within the need of executing a project—like using Excel or PowerPoint. Certainly, she would have seen the need for children to learn how to use a library and read segments from many book sources rather than using summations like Google or Wikipedia. Most importantly, she might say that everything should be real and have a purpose that helps us live. So, let's use it.
"At our Montessori elementary school in Santaluz, it's about technology that's purposeful and is used in moderation,"
So, when is my child ready for a cellphone? When they're responsible enough. And if they are not responsible enough, you can always buy your child a flip phone rather than a smartphone!
Lifetime Montessori School in San Diego, a private school in Santaluz, teaches 200 students in toddler, primary and Grades One through Six elementary school programs. LMS serves many inland communities along I-15 and CA-56. For a virtual tour, visit https://lifetimemontessorischool.com/