It’s back to school time. For those with kids, it’s a crazy pace of dark mornings, grumpy kids, homework, and endless activity drop offs. My wife and I joke that our job descriptions should be “Uber” and “Wallet” respectively. Each year seems to bring an increasing level of stress for parents and kids alike, especially around technology.
One area I see parents struggle with is when to buy their kids a phone. According to most kids, EVERYONE else has a phone but them. We can all relate. That was us once upon a time complaining about lack of quality access to G.I. Joe figures or the latest Transformer. Phones are a whole different can of worms. Never in history have our kids held in their hands greater tools for productivity or deviance. The national average age kids get their first phone is 10.5 years old. Ironically, there seems to be an inverse curve when it comes to allowing technology access. The less technologically savvy the parent, the more permissive they are about access to technology. I took a straw poll among my integrator friends and found much stricter technology policies in the home vs. their permissive non-tech counterparts (a.k.a. our clients). Bill Gates famously held out smartphone privileges for his kids until they were 14.
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Our non-tech friends and clients need a safe space to seek counsel and establish a framework for dealing with their kids around technology. That safe space is YOU. Are you leveraging that part of the relationship with your clients? Think of the upside around further establishing yourself as a trusted advisor. Imagine offering a two-hour session for your clients where they can come in and learn about how to establish healthy boundaries with their kids. Maybe that session is a 1-to-1 meeting driven by an email to your customer list? Many teaching professionals agree that smartphones are detrimental to academic success, so why do so many parents give their kids smartphones at younger and younger ages? Ignorance is bliss. Here are some common objections and possible responses to consider as you put together your parent boot camp:
Objection: All my friends have phones.
Response: You know the old adage about “If everyone jumped off the Empire State Building, would you?” Just because the crowd is going one direction, it doesn’t mean it’s the right direction. Smartphones have only been available in the mass market for a little over a decade. There were plenty of years where we thought DDT and cigarettes were perfectly fine.
Objection: I need a phone to call you after practice is over.
Response: Sounds good. We’ll get you a flip phone.
Objection: I’m going to miss out on group texting with my friends.
Response: No problem, we’ll keep an iPad out in a common area for you to use with permission.
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I’m not saying this is going to be easy. I live in a home with three kids, a wife, and a mother-in-law all with very different ideas about how technology, social media, and texting fit into our lives. We are all crystal clear on a few key points such as zero technology at the dinner table, no screens in bedrooms, limiting screen time daily using Apple’s Screen Time tools, and the maxim that technology access is a privilege, not a right.
How do you manage access to technology in your own homes, and do you have a program to help out your clients?
Stay frosty, and see you in the field.
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