In March, 2017, about 1,000 parents/guardians of White Hill Middle Schoolers were emailed a survey link and asked to provide feedback about their children having cell/mobile phones. The survey covered topics such as, what motivated families to get or hold off getting their child a cell phone, and if they chose to get their children phones, what their actual experiences had been, and what cell phone management strategies had worked best.
Survey Summary Results
- According to the survey responses, the average age when families got their White Hill child a phone was 6th grade. However, if they were to do it over, families would have, on average, gotten their child a phone a grade later.
- Being able to reach, and being reachable by, the child was by far the primary motivation for purchasing a phone, which came out in both the ranked options and open comments provided. Parents who cited “responding to their child’s requests”, “wanting them to fit in” and “not miss out on social connections” as major motivations/pressures for getting their child a phone reported the greatest “overall negative” experiences once they got the phone.
- Based on their experience, parents are most worried about their child’s preoccupation with the phone and how it has become their default activity when bored, followed by concerns of exposure to social media.
- Parents/guardians found the following to be the most effective strategies to mitigate the potential risks or downsides of their child having a phone: Don’t let child download apps without parent permission, install app blocking software and/or other parental controls, limit use in certain situations/times of day, don’t allow phone to be in child’s bedroom, and restrict access to certain content/apps.
- In the comments section, parents and guardians offered many phone management suggestions. Overwhelmingly, the first two suggestions were: if your child has a cell phone, to limit access to the phone; or if your child doesn’t have a cell phone, to wait as long as you can before giving your child one because once they have one it is very difficult to go back.
Read the Full Summary and Results