Today’s parents are a generation that lived and saw the changes and development in technology. Being the first generation of parents in an era where smartphones are a priority in life is very difficult, given the possibility that your child may be affected in a negative way by these new devices. So we want to give guidelines for the parents to help them in tackling of raising children with all these smart devices and their platforms.
Should we give our children smartphones and when?
The world has changed and it is going to keep on changing. We do not live in a society where we can live without electricity let alone smartphones and these devices that if used correctly can be very helpful, as it has been reported about Imam Ali (A.S) “Do not force your upbringing on your children as they were born for a time different than yours”(1). But as helpful as they may be, they still give the vulnerability of ruining our children’s upbringing. All this means that our children should have smartphones, but when they are ready to handle it.
The Prophet (pbuh) stated “A child is a master seven years, a slave seven years, and minister seven years.”(2)
In a nutshell this saying is dividing the parental duties into three stages. The first is to let the child be independent for seven years which means that in the first seven years of the child’s life, he is left to be childish which comes with parents being patient towards their child as they might want to play, ask questions, get sick, and pretty much just vacuum our energy, of course if they do not do anything harmful such as hurting themselves, others, or damaging others’ properties. What is also understood from “master” in the saying is that they should be given all the love they need. The first stage is like this, because the child is still growing in “brain” capacity and learning about this world, and not ready to be taught and raised.
The second stage is when the child is ready to take in the teachings of their parents as the child’s language has gotten better, they are more aware and more self-controlled. This is the perfect time to start raising and teaching them.
The third stage is when the child is fourteen at a time where he/she starts in a dimension that is not childhood nor is it adulthood. They are ready to be independent but still need someone to teach them, to mentor them, and advise them.
When looking at these three stages the best age to give a child a smartphone “independently” is when they hit fourteen, because it is the age where the parents have already taught the children about life and how to react towards it. Before the age of fourteen the parents can share their phones with the children making it easier to view the children’s actions or if needed they can get them the old phones that can only make phone calls with. In all the scenarios above it is important that until adulthood the parents should always check and control their children’s social media activity, browser history, messages, contacts, etc.
1. The interpretation of Nahj Al-Balagha by Ibn Abi Al-Hadeed v20 p267
2. Bihar Al-Anwar v101 p95