Mum tells how giving her son's phone made her a better mum: 'A win for him and my parenting'

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Making the decision of when to buy your child their first phone, is a tricky one for parents. 

When is the appropriate age? What should they be allowed to use it for? And, how will you monitor their use? 

One mum has opened up online about the intense hesitation she had to give her children access to technology.

But surprisingly, her decision to finally do so brought with it major benefits to her relationship with her kids and made her 'a better mum'.  

Writing to Cafemom, Wendy explained that she and her husband like most parents, were wary of the dangers that come with constant internet access and technology use. 

"I generally took the position that less was more. When we thought about kids and technology, we really zeroed in on the worst-case scenarios with kids and screens", she wrote. 

When they would allow their kids to use the family iPad it came with a number of time and content limits, and the family avoided purchasing any video game system for as long as they could. 

But when their son became a teenager, it became harder and harder to avoid the purchase of a mobile phone. 

"It seemed that everyone, including the school, assumed that all kids had phones. My son was literally the only kid on the school soccer team without a phone", she explained.

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And, after their son had to walk home in the rain from a cancelled soccer practice that he couldn't be notified about because he had no phone, the mum finally let up. 

"We grudgingly decided it was time for a phone of his own", she wrote. 

Alongside the responsibility of owning a phone, they put a number of rules in place for their son. 

"We installed parental monitoring apps, we set it up to block mature content and most social media apps, and we started drawing up a list of expectations, a contract he'd have to sign to get the phone", the mum revealed. 

The conversations they had with their son around the expectations noted in the contract, were a surpisingly powerful tool that brought the family closer together. 

"When we explained to him why we blocked certain sites, we ended up talking about pornography and how early exposure can be harmful to kids. We ended up diving even deeper and talking about the ethics of sex work and our hopes that he'll have a great sex life someday. When we talked about texting and sexting, we got a chance to be really explicit about consent, coercion, and how once you send a picture or a message, you lose control of it forever", the mum explained. 

They had candid conversations with their son about being an ethical partner and consent being a two-way street. 

The conversations were deep and meaningful and helped the family 'communicate better'. 

"Beyond prompting a series of really important talks about becoming a sexual being, giving my son a phone also helped give us an earlier start to other conversations that will be important when he goes into high school and beyond", she wrote. 

The mum said that instead of prohibiting her son from using his phone for specific reasons, she made sure she explained the reasons behind the rules, the risks involved and what he should be looking out for online. 

They were simple, yet effective conversations that the mum admitted she may not have been able to have if she didn't purchase the phone. 

"Ultimately, I think the conversations that came with giving our son a phone were so powerful because they reminded me to be explicit about the "why." I didn't just say "don't look at porn on your phone," instead we talked about why porn exists, why kids are curious about it, how it is different than real sex, and how he'll be a better sexual partner if he doesn't watch porn as a kid", she continued. 

While the mum was at first hesitant, she says giving her teenage son a phone has been "a win for him and my parenting".