About the Episode:
A hot topic about parenting has always been what age is the best time to let your kids have their own phones? Is there really a “good” time? Today, Rick shares his personal experience with trusting his kids to be responsible with technology at a young age.
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Today, we’re going all in! We’re going to talk about kids today about kids in a question. I’ve gotten a lot from people, which is, “Hey, what’s the best age to give your kids a phone?” Now, this is something that I have a unique perspective on, that I will share with you today, and some of the reasons why I did it, and also some advice for you on some things that I’ve discovered over the past couple years. So here we go, yes, share this out with three people, because this is going to be some good information. Now, I’m going to start ready dropping the bomb right away. All of my kids got their first iPhone when they were seven years old. That’s seven years old, that’s really, really young. I’ll explain some of the reasons why they got that back then. There was one overarching reason why they had phones when they were seven years old. This can be if you’re getting an Android or whatever you know, the family stuff, and parental protection has come a long way since then, because my oldest kids are going to be 15 here in just a few short weeks, which is kind of cool.
So they’ve had phones for eight years now, and back then there weren’t as many parental controls and protections and everything is there right now, which I’m actually kind of grateful for, and we’re talking about that a little bit too. So whether it’s Android, Google Family Link. The iPhone has the family, family sharing, and screen time controls you can put into place but the reason why I got my kids phones when they were seven, now I have twins, and they both got phones at the same time. But at that age, it’s really cool. I’ve talked about this before, but I started flying my kids places by themselves. Because I travel for business. I started flying them one at a time to come and meet me somewhere to spend a couple of days with me, you know whether it’s Florida or wherever, because we’ve been Disney Vacation Club members for a long time.
So I would conduct my business and then fly them down to meet just one of them at a time to come meet me to spend some one on one time on a little quick mini vacation in a different state to do something pretty fun, and I would do something special like the very first one to do this was my daughter Arial. When she flew down to Florida to meet me it was in Tampa, we went to Clearwater Marine Aquarium and at that time, there was a Disney movie going around about a hope and winter that the dolphins that are there. I can’t remember the name of the movie. I actually took her to see Hope and Winter at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater Beach Florida, Florida, and to this day, no kidding. She actually has, because almost 15 years old, the one photo that’s actually hanging over her headboard is up on the wall about three feet up is the photo that we had when she was actually petting Hope. When we were in the water, it was really, really cool and it’s awesome that she’s held on to that memory this far. So she had a phone, right? I taught her how to use it and everything because if she was traveling alone, even though planes you know, airlines have pretty good unaccompanied minor programs. It’s really cool because you actually can get a security pass and go through with your kid literally to the jetway, and then with the unaccompanied minor program, they will take your kid onto the plane for you, right from there.
So it’s like I can handoff and then the same thing happens when you pick them up at the other airport when the other parent or guardian picks them up as they are walking on first to the plane. And then they’re walked off first, literally with a flight attendant right there and then just handed to you. So you meet them right there and have the jetway pass security, so they don’t have to navigate an airport all by themselves. It’s pretty cool. Still, I wanted them to have some kind of phone that taught them how to connect to WiFi in the air so they could message right over iMessage. That’s another reason why I got iPhone at that time. You know, because we’re talking a while back, you know, it wasn’t like hardcore iPhone versus Android. But iMessage was something that went over the internet that you could actually use even for free on a lot of planes or a lot of airlines at that time.
So I got them phones to stay in contact. That was the primary reason that I got them phones at age seven was because of these awesome travel things that we would do. Like I took my eldest son to the Kennedy Space Center as the first trip with him to have a good time with him or one of the first trips just with him was something really special that only he and I have ever done. No one else in the family has ever gone there just he and I have done. It was a really awesome time to know there was a byproduct, a very good byproduct which I just thought about the other Day. Because in this family thread, I got a photo or a video of two of my kids, Alec and Arial just goofing around. I mean, just some of the amazing, cutest stuff and really, really funny stuff because they’re your kids in the backseat of a car, right, and it was actually Arial, who was taking this video, and she was like seven years old at the time, it was shortly after she got her phone.
I found out through that, that over the years, you know, there’s always been photos and videos that have been shared here and there. But capturing these memories has been this amazing, amazing byproduct of all of my kids having phones when they were so young, that they were able to capture these memories, and it’s stuff that you could never possibly capture as a parent. Absolutely not. Because it’s from their perspective, as a 7 year old as a 10 year old as a 12 year old, whatever. It’s from their perspective. It’s so cool to be able to see these things years later, from a different point of view, and just appreciate and love your kids so much more. Because you’re able to now go back and see things that you never even saw, just these amazing moments that you never even saw back then because you weren’t even physically present. You were in the other room or, or you know, at a different place or whatever, and they took these videos because they had phones.
It’s absolutely incredible. I mean, for this reason alone, outside of when they travel by themselves for this reason alone, I am so glad that they have these and I would encourage you to do the same, and this is a matter of principle for me. Get your kids in anything, right and anything right, expose them when they’re young, in a controlled environment, and teach them how to use these things in the right way. They’re going to be just fine with them. Absolutely just fine with them. Because I’ve gotten all the arguments, believe me, I have gotten all the judgments. I’ve gotten all the shunning. I’ve gotten all the you should not do this crap from a lot of other parents, because they’re projecting the crap that they go through with their own kids on to me, and I’m sorry, it just didn’t work this way. Because I did this right. I’m gonna tell you, I did this right with my kids, getting them involved in communications and electronics at an early age.
Now, I’m not talking about shoving a two year old or a five year old an iPad while you’re out to dinner, you know what I never, ever, did that I have never brought an iPad with to a meal. My kids were right at the edge. I’ve had an iPad, I’m in cybersecurity, I’m in tech, I’ve had an iPad since the very first one. Never ever bring an iPad with you to a dinner table going out or whatever, because it has no place there. Absolutely no place, I don’t care because your kids will get used to what you give them what you put in front of them. Period. So you’re able to work around that stuff, and this was why my kids at a very, very young age were able to have formal dinners. No joke, I don’t regret any of this stuff, getting them phones when they were seven, and not having iPads at any dinner table. I regret none of those. I feel like those were some of the best decisions that I could have ever made. Now, I’m gonna give you a couple tips on this too.
Now they’re a little older, right? There’s new things, right? Because back then, they didn’t FaceTime many of their friends and cousins because they were literally the only ones with phones. Now they’re in their teenage years, and of course, it’s FaceTime all the time. There’s a couple of rules that I have, you know, because now it’s like other boys and girls are in the mix and crushes and all this other thing, right, and being 14 year olds or whatever, there’s a couple of house rules that I have, that they’re more than willing to follow and it actually works out okay. Trust me on this one, it works out completely okay. The biggest one is when you’re on a call with, if you’re if you’re my son and you’re on a call with a girl, or if you’re my daughter, you’re on a call with a boy or FaceTime, whatever, you can be in your room. That’s all good, but your doors open.
Your door is wide open. I’m not talking cracked. I’m not talking, you know, halfway. I’m not talking, you know, just a little sliver. I’m talking wide open, and what’s really cool about this is that I will catch my daughter in a completely different room than her bedroom. Meaning she’ll just be on a couch somewhere talking with a boy. It’s pretty amazing because there’s no shame right there, and this is because she understands it’s because of the age that she’s at and everything. It’s like there’s just communications and that such and I remember, I grew up you know, I’m not old. I’m 42 but there’s been a lot of advances in technology over the past several decades. You know, I grew up in a home where there was literally just one phone and that phone was in the kitchen. So anytime you wanted to talk with a girl, or for me anyways, I had to do it in the kitchen with everybody else around me, right when I was 14, same thing.
However, when I started working, you know, when I got to age 17, that’s right. When cell phones were really kind of starting to go out to the masses, I got my own cell phone, but I was 17 years old, and that’s when I had the private conversations. Are you tracking me? I hope so. Because that’s something that I’m sure that I’m not going to regret my decision. It’ll be different when they’re 16. I’m sure because they’re even more mature, they’re already freaking mature. Now, mentally speaking, compared to most kids. I know I’m biased, but still, it’s because of these things. get them started on electronics and, and cell phones, smartphones early. Same with social media. I’ve talked about this before, they got accounts like a 13 year birthday gift. I know, there’s parents that have 10 year olds that have accounts and Instagram and all that. But that’s not something that I ever had, like the terms of service, say you should be 13, that’s from Instagram, that’s from Facebook, whatever, so it’s going to be 13.
So when they turned 13, they got Instagram accounts, and you know what, they’re doing a great job there, too. They’re within a level of maturity that I don’t see most adults have when it comes to social media. It’s pretty awesome, and the biggest benefit that I’ve ever gotten out of this by starting them early with electronics is seeing all these amazing, amazing videos and photos that they took when they were young, from their perspective. It’s so cool because you actually get to see and learn more about your kids. When you see the types of photos that they took of the types of things that they took them of, and the videos the things that they found funny, the things that they found beautiful, the things that they found memorable. You get like you learn them all over again, even beyond what you could have imagined when they start to show these things to you and share them with other people in the family. It’s absolutely been incredible, and I encourage you to do the same. I love you, thank you for joining me. Go all in.
- Byproduct of your Kids Having A Phone
- Teaching Your Kids Safety with Their Phones
- Creating a barrier for trust with Kids and Tech
- Should a 7 year old have a cell phone?