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Middle school smart phones

There is a big change in how Generation Z and whatever follows deals with technology, and of course it is parent-driven. Our eldest is a 6th-grader and we are among the youngest, if not the youngest, parents in her class. We were both in our late 20s when she was born, which was considered geriatric in Serbia but is practically a teenage pregnancy for DC standards. While most of her classmates have smart phones, she is not getting one until she has a driver’s license — whenever that happens — and will have to live the hard-knock life of Apple Watch at school and the iPad at home.

To our older friends this is nearly child abuse. However will they develop socially, they ask, as if TikTok were a social network and grammatically incorrect emoji-laden texts the only means of communication. Won’t they miss out on important interactions… on their way from home to school and back, I guess? Friends our age and younger don’t yet have middle schoolers, but most agree with our stance. Dumb phones and/or smart watches are good enough for safety. Roblox et al on a tablet can replace the hour-long conversations over landline phones of generations past. So what need exactly does an iPhone fill, other than assuaging the fear of missing out?

Not everyone in a generation is the same, of course, but there are overall tones. In keeping with the economic hardship, stunted maturation, and the general pessimism of the millennials, I predict our tone to be “not so fast, young’uns”. By the time our youngest is in 6th grade, seven years from now, the smartphone tweens should be in the minority.

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