I recently heard about Sarahah, a particularly nasty little app that allows people to send completely anonymous phone messages.
It was only launched recently, and it bills itself as an opportunity to “improve your friendship by discovering your strengths and areas for improvement – let your friends be honest with you.”
Unsurprisingly, rather than encouraging a bounty of good old-fashioned constructive criticism, it’s found much more traction as a vehicle for school-aged bullying. This is why I won’t let my kids anywhere near this app, no way, no how.
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In fact, I won’t even let them experiment with more age-appropriate tech.
My 7-year-old daughter has been asking for a Moochie watch. Invented by a clever local entrepreneur, Moochie watches are like a basic ‘smart watch’ for kids. Only parents and kids (and other pre-vetted numbers) can call or message each other, and the watch has added features like GPS tracking and a camera.
My daughter wants one because her best friend has one, and they want to message each other at school.
My husband’s on board with the idea because he’s a helicopter parent, and so he was sold at the first mention of ‘GPS Tracking’.
But I don’t want anything to do with it – not for another few years, at least. My answer has been a firm no, for several reasons…
To begin with, I believe our kids need less tech in their lives, not more. This seems like a brilliant invention as a transitional gadget between having nothing, and getting their first phone, but at 7, I feel like we’re years away from that yet.
The GPS tracking is also a little redundant for our family. If our daughter is not at school or at dance classes, she’s with us. Even if we’re at the shops, the park or the beach, my kids never wander far enough to get lost and my husband is always buzzing around them as the blessedly over-careful helicopter parent that he is.
Lastly, I don’t want my daughter getting this gadget because it strikes me as just one more opportunity for bullying to take shape. Bullying has always been an issue, though it seems to be getting worse: news just broke of a 12-year-old boy who was so relentlessly bullied about his red hair and freckles, he attempted suicide.
Giving our kids any unfettered any access to a tech world that we can’t always monitor and review, doesn’t sit well with me. I know they’ll get sucked into social media and phone addictions eventually – but whilst I’m in control, I’m going to delay it for as long as humanly possible.