Would You Let Your Five-Year-Old Text a Friend?

I knew we’d be dealing with technology issues with our kids fairly soon, now that they’re school aged. But I had thought our first-born, who is now seven, would be the one asking for an email address (does anyone use those anymore?) or wanting a phone or something like that. Instead, the intended recipient of the text I received the other day was my younger kid, the kindergartner.

Hi this is XXXX’s friend, can I talk to her?

Let me be abundantly clear that I really like this family, including both the little girl and her mom. We’re becoming friends, which I really value. So I do not at all want this post to read as if I’m judging the other parent in this situation. It was just unexpected, as the mom and I were texting each other, and then after a pause, the above message came through. I can only assume that my daughter’s classmate had taken her mother’s phone, probably with permission, to ask me directly if she could talk to (text?) my kid. I have no problem with the girls wanting to spend more time in touch with each other, but I just didn’t think it was going to take the form of sending text messages back and forth using each mom’s cell phone as a proxy. So I wasn’t sure what to do at that point. Was I supposed to hand my phone over to my five-year-old so she could write back? I’ll admit that my kid is pretty adept with an iPad, and she’s reading really well (just like her friend, apparently), so she could have done it. But I didn’t want to hand over my phone, because … well, it’s my phone, lol, and I need it. But more importantly, I just wasn’t all that comfortable handing a smartphone over to my kindergartener.

Seriously, I have been considering giving the older one a phone of her own. She’s in second grade now, which when I stop to think about it still seems a bit young for a phone. But there are so many times when I wish I could just text or call my kid, especially when she’s down the street with her little sister at a friend’s house. It just had not occurred to me that the older one would be content with her Chromebook and (supervised) Minecraft, while my little one would be more interested in using MY phone for its originally intended purpose: to talk to other people.

I ended up ignoring the text, which was easy to do since I was busy getting dinner ready at the time anyway. I later continued my text conversation with the other mom, which led to a nice get-together, and that was perfect. The unanswered text didn’t come up again, nor have any new messages come through. If they do, my thought is to just respond thusly:

Hi! This is XXXX’s mom. Sorry, but we don’t allow XXXX to text yet. I can give her the message and she’ll talk to you at school!

It also occurred to me that the little girl might have been asking to literally talk to my daughter, as in, talk using your actual voice, on the phone (does anyone do that anymore?), rather than wanting to text back and forth with her. But in that case, wouldn’t she have made an actual phone call? And in any event, that doesn’t solve the issue of me not wanting to part with my phone, lol. I need it to listen to podcasts while I’m cooking dinner. We don’t have a house phone, but if we did, that might have been a feasible alternative.

What say you, fellow digital age parents of young children? Am I way overthinking this? Would you have handed over your phone in this situation?


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