Finding a Cure for Gadget Fever

The following is a special post from our parent blog, The Money Talk. Consider this a sneak peek, then bookmark to read all of the parent-minded posts moving forward!

This week, another hotly anticipated announcement from a highly coveted brand: Apple launched their newest and most power-packed watches and iPhones yet. And with them, an unspoken message to kids and teens across America: your gadget is about to become socially obsolete.

In an era when 50% of teens admit addition to their phones, it should come as little surprise that new releases of the beloved possessions are watched as closely–and emotionally–as homecoming court results.

But how can parents help their children resist the lures of “planned obsolescence” and use technology as a tool rather than a trap? It all starts with a dose of reality.

“No, you actually don’t need it.”



National Archives

When Bill Clinton conducted meetings aboard Air Force One, he was equipped with the most advanced technology the world had to offer. And yet today, a 5-year-old iPhone has more power than the POTUS did in the 90’s. So when your teen comes home from school in a few hours and declares that they need to get the new iPhone, ask them if they need to conduct foreign diplomacy. If not, chances are their year-old device is plenty cutting edge.

“But if you’re determined, you can find a way.”

As much as parents may roll their eyes at the concept of a child seeing a $1000 gadget as a necessity, any opportunity that offers practice in the art of saving shouldn’t be overlooked. If your child is absolutely, positively determined to update the contents of their front pocket, put the ball in their court. Encourage your ambitious teen to get a part-time job or start a business of their own and use their earnings to pay for the gizmo themselves. After investing 100+ hours of pre-tax labor into the device, they may very well decide that last year’s phone is better than they realized.

“It’s your phone, but it’s our house.”

So they proved you wrong, did they? Your savvy teen worked their way to a superior smartphone, and now you’re powerless. Right? Wrong. Sure, they may have worked tirelessly for the gadget, but its usage still falls under your roof and within your parental jurisdiction. So where do you start? This list from TeenSafe prioritized safety and makes boundaries clear. Among our favorite rules:

  • No phones during family meals.
  • No one-on-one communication with someone you’ve never met in real life.
  • No sending pictures that you wouldn’t want grandma to see.
  • No Smartphone use during school unless given special permission by a teacher or parent.

The smartphone is arguably the most significant innovation of the last 15 years. But it’s also among the most disruptive. With a bit of parental oversight, you can help ensure that that disruption is a positive one.