The Triple Whammy …by Dina Ramon

In a single day this week I got hit with a
doozy of ‘Mommy can I have…’  It was the
big three that every normal parent probably dreads: a phone, a computer, and
body piercing (ears only, thankfully).

 My daughter hits the big ‘8’ next week but I felt
ambushed and was inadequately prepared to respond to all three in the same day!
 This has slowly been building over the
last year or two; lately the requests are occurring more frequently and with
greater insistence. I think we’ve hit a turning point.

 I guess I have to start seriously considering
what is age-appropriate when it comes to my daughter having her own tech
gadgets and ‘big girl’ earrings. Of course, part of me wants to say never, but
I suppose part of being a mom is working through this and using your best
judgment on what is best for your child and when.

If I have to prioritize which one concerns me
the least it would probably be the cell phone since that can be pre-loaded with
limited call time minutes and without Internet access. Next would be a computer
since she already uses mine for games and interactive sites like American Girl
and I’ve had practice monitoring her activity… which I’ve learned is critical;
I sometimes don’t realize what she already knows how to do when it comes to her
computer skills. She discovered YouTube on her own and one day I discovered her
watching gory videos of shark attacks. Another day I noticed that some anonymous
character was trying to chat online with her. My guard is seriously up now.
When we do get her a computer, controls will be activated for sure.

Pierced ears though, I am just not ready for.
I would really like to put that off until she is a teenager. That may seem
silly and old fashioned, and it is certainly safer than cyber bullies or
inappropriate online content, but I don’t think she needs to be wearing
earrings in grade school.

 Whether its earrings, a phone or the like, experts
and everyday parents seem to agree that a big factor in determining your
child’s readiness is his / her sense of responsibility for their own things,
your things and what they borrow from others. My daughter is very careful with
some things, but not so much with others. The other day she left her wallet at
an arcade during a field trip for camp. Luckily, it only had a few pennies in
it, and the arcade employees found it and returned to the camp managers. If she
got a phone now, or even a year from now I could see her losing it after the
first week.  

 I notice that she tends to be more careful with
things when she contributes to the cost using money that she has saved up.
Regardless, it looks like a computer would be most useful for her now, for
school and games, so my guard will be up and I will spy as much as necessary.
But the other two are not going to be part of her world anytime soon.