Why my teenage daughter only gets her cell phone for an hour a day

Our daughter is 13 and has had a smartphone for three years. At 10 she was "late on" with the cell phone, everyone else in her class had gotten one before switching to secondary school, some even in first grade. We found the topic of cell phones difficult right from the start. For the first time, we as parents felt that we had no choice at all. And frankly, we also lacked a clear stance. But it didn't matter anyway. Because whether we thought the age was appropriate no longer mattered. The smartphone was needed at 10. That was the way it should be. Whether it suited us or not …

And now? What rules apply?

Then it was in the house and our daughter in seventh heaven. And the next 1000 questions came up. What is she allowed to do? When can she do that? How much privacy is ok? When is it negligence not to take a closer look. Uff. If we asked other parents, they were all about as perplexed as we are and so the rules (or non-rules) of super-cool parents prevailed in most of the houses. The only consensus regarding restrictions: the good part must be given in the evening. But that didn't last long for most families. "After all, my son would like to be woken up with his favorite song" … and you also just have to trust the youngsters.

Trust has nothing to do with it

The thing is … I think trust is a very important and special value. And I trust my child very much. But the addictive potential of a smartphone and the pressure to have to answer every stupid message on Whatsapp, I unfortunately trust from my own experience. How many times have I forgotten the time while I clicked through the messages. How many times have I come across sad and disturbing representations and images that really shook me? And do I want to do this to my child? Do I really want that? Luckily, my husband and I agreed that the cell phone should not determine our daughter's day. Not even their friendships. And certainly not their worldview. That is why there was a golden rule from the beginning: an hour is ok, then it is over. At least in school, during the holidays we now often close our eyes.

Who doesn't trust here?

Incidentally, I find the question of lack of trust a bit funny. Because this is a question that people like to ask who don't leave their child anywhere without a cell phone. After all, something could happen. For my part, I just trust that my child is looking for help, that the people around her are offering support, and that a 13-year-old is able to find solutions – at least for most situations. I also trust that she will contact us when her little mobile phone time becomes a social problem. Interestingly, it has not so far. Your friends just call totally old school on the landline. Or they ring the doorbell.

The day we wanted to be cool

I admit: we weren't always so steadfast. At some point, we gave in to the pressure from other opinions and dared to try to organize the cell phone time ourselves. When we saw that the average screen time per day was 4 hours and 54 minutes, we addressed our daughter. Sobbing, she gave us her cell phone and begged us to limit the time again. "That overwhelms me!" Said our tallest. "Everyone always wants something from me!" At that moment it was clear to us that we were right. This feeling will hit her soon enough. I don't think the one hour is suitable for every family and I don't want to raise my finger here for heaven's sake. I just want to encourage the parents who somehow have a bad feeling with this smartphone madness at such a young age. You are not alone with this feeling. And who knows. Maybe your children are not as far from your opinion as you think …

One day we will have to let go

Yes, one day my daughter will also have to limit herself. No question. But does it have to be at 13? One day she will also have to fill her own fridge and pick her children up from the day care center on time, if she has any. I just believe that everything has a time. And everyone who has a teen at home knows for sure what I mean, that "keeping measure" at this age is not necessarily the supreme discipline. It doesn't have to be a either. In this case she still has us.