Peer-ents and Smartphones: Are You in Jeopardy?

two girls with smartphone

Do you tend to fix your child’s problems, instead of guiding her toward a solution? Do you talk to your child on “her level”? Do you shop at the same clothing stores as your child? Does your child have a Smartphone? If so, do you enjoy the constant connectivity your Smartphone brings to your parent-child relationship? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have fallen into a peer-enting slump!

“Act like a parent, talk like a peer — I call it ‘peer-enting’.” – Phil Dunphy

Maybe you feel like you’re a hip and cool parent; but according to this article, peer-enting can cause you to “act too much like a friend, and you can gloss over opportunities to give direction, which instills values and build[s] character. And taken to an extreme, children can actually see you as a buddy, and not a parent, making guidance all but impossible.”

Smartphones have sped the peer-enting process up too, massively changing the rules for parenting. The constant texting back and forth can often lead you to believe that you’re building sincere relationships with your children, when really, it can decrease your ability to influence them on the respected parental level that’s so badly needed. Also, it gives children access to a private and portable Internet – something we certainly didn’t have growing up – at a very young age; “and in the hands of children whose judgment isn’t yet fully developed, smartphones can lead to the fast-track to bad choices and even worse consequences … the risk is that they’ll conduct their personal exploration away from your guidance.”

Even with all of these facts, which are often proven and preached by the proficiently knowledgeable folks, I like to switch back and forth between team “Moms Against Children with Smartphones” and “My Child has a Smartphone and I Love It,” because if I am to be completely honest, Smartphones are pretty dang convenient. My daughter isn’t old enough for one yet (At what age is a phone even appropriate these days? Does anyone know?!?), but I dream about how much it will help her regularly check-in with me and have some additional safety. It will also help me learn more about who she is as an individual!

The word “peer-ent” sounds, feels, and looks all wrong. And it’s one hyphen-move away from being “Pee-rent.” I don’t want to become a peer-ent … or a pee-rent. After reading numerous articles and blogs on the Internet – from mothers, fathers, and more – I’ve gathered some great ideas for how to maintain a respectable level of parenting, should I someday decide to give my daughter a Smartphone.  

For example, one huge trend I’ve noticed is a Phone Contract. These contracts assert that the parent will always know their child’s passwords, phone calls are not to be made after a specific time, whether or not the phone is allowed to go to school with him/her, proper ways to use the internet and social media (e.g., using honesty and kindness towards others; and the forbiddance of inappropriate photo-taking and receiving, and visits to skankified sites), and any details about what will happen if the phone breaks by the child’s doing or if the child breaks the contract. In order to receive a phone, children have to sign this contract first. What a great starting point for establishing rules and guidelines, while still getting the various benefits a phone can bring.

Don’t fall into a peer-enting role. Talk to your children about your expectations for them concerning the values and morals they present online. Many sites also mention that a parent should frequently check their child’s texts, photos, Facebook page, and any other social media accounts, to monitor what’s going on.

Do you have any additional ideas that will help us all continue parenting in this technological world, and avoid peer-enting? Please share!

What do you think?

Peer-ents and Smartphones: Are You in Jeopardy?

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

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4 comments

  1. Profile photo of LIZ says:

    i dont want to give my baby cell until shes responsable en off to handle want lets see if i give her a smartphone

  2. Profile photo of Tina Tina says:

    I didn’t have a cell phone until I could pay for the bill myself. I think that is the same rule that I will be doing with my son.

  3. Profile photo of Dario Dario says:

    no smart phones until high school

  4. Profile photo of Chellie Chellie says:

    Not all cell phones are smart phones. I’d think it would be a good idea to give your child a phone that can just make calls and maybe text until they can earn the money to purchase their own phone. Even then, I like the contact idea, but how do you really enforce it? Kids these days are so technologically savvy…

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