• Nimrod Bar-Levin

What is the parent-kid smartphone arena?

If you haven't read the intro to this series of posts, please don't miss it.

Simplified definition: a situation (or a potential future situation) where a parent has a Kid, and the kid has a personal smartphone of his/her own... or even before. Athletes train and plan months ahead time, not on the day of the match when entering the arena. So should you.

So, what are the common characteristics of the arena? How does the match usually play out?

Before the kid gets a smartphone

  • Kid pushes for a smartphone, arguing that “everybody in the class has a smartphone already.”

  • Parent tries to avoid or postpone giving the smartphone.

  • Parent tries to find out who among the other parents with kids the same age already gave smartphones.

  • Kid uses a parent’s smartphone or “living room tablet,” but wants to take ownership of the device for him/herself.

  • Kid is watching less and less TV (e.g. big screen) and more and more smartphone-based content.

  • Parent talks with spouse about the subject and in many cases one of them is appointed (often subconsciously) as the one in charge of this whole issue.

  • The Parent in charge looks for some information about the issue - what is the right age to give a kid a smartphone? What are the risks and dangers? Which type of smartphone is suitable? What is too much screen time? Which apps are black/white listed? Can the smartphone create value? And more.

  • Parent gets frustrated as he/she cannot find straightforward answers to many questions.

  • At some point the parents let go and give their kid a smartphone.

Once you give your kid a smartphone

  • Kid and parents are relieved and happy... for about a day.

The months/years after giving your kid a smartphone


  • The kid can play for countless hours causing the parent to freak out.

Buy me buy me buuuuy meeeee

  • Kid keeps asking to buy digital stuff for apps

  • The Parent doesn’t understand what value is being gained - but allows a purchase from time to time.


  • The kid is never satisfied - never has enough (screen time/purchases/apps/battery/device/other).

  • The parent feels that the kid has had enough - and that enough is enough.


  • The kid keeps moving from one trend to another - mainly from one app to another.

  • The parent feels that since he/she invested in the kid’s current “best app ever,” the kid should stick to it, at least for a while.


  • The kid ranks smartphone time as high priority - and behaves accordingly.

  • The parent wishes for less smartphone time and more physical outdoor - and intelligent indoor - activities.


  • The kid finds a lot of social aspects inside the smartphone (note: I’m not saying negative or positive - just social).

  • The parent feels that not only is the smartphone time not social - it is anti-social and counter productive socially.

Now the question becomes, what should parents actually be doing?

You guessed right, this is what we'll discuss next.

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