When speaking to my friend the other day about Christmas plans, she was detailing what she bought her eight year old for gifts. Included was a laptop. When I inquired about why the eight year old was getting a laptop, she explained that the current family computer wasn’t ”up to speed” in terms of processing for what the girl needed to accomplish school related projects. Knowing that the computer she was talking about was only three years old (since I was with her when she bought it) I called her bluff. I mean surely an eight year old isn’t doing that much computer related homework?And if she is, I’m confident that it doesn’t require that much processing power, let’s be honest! She fessed up that the kid wanted it so they were buying it, and that knowing she would be using it for school made her feel better and that’s what she had to tell herself to justify the purchase.
Am I alone in thinking if you have to justify purchasing an item, and if you’re not totally comfortable with it for whatever reason (an eight year old getting a $500 computer in this instance) that maybe you shouldn’t be buying it?
The other item that comes to mind is cell phones. I didn’t grow up with a cell phone, I didn’t have my first cell phone until university. I relied on the land lines at locations or using my friends parents cell phones (because there was no way my friends had phones of their own, that was unheard of). Though I can’t imagine my life now without one, I also can’t imagine my young child having access to her own iPhone. It blows my mind how many young kids (less than 15) I see with these devices. While I suspect when my little one is old enough to venture out away from mom and dad, we will get her an emergency only/call-mom-and-dad cell phone, I will not be buying her a $500 ‘phone’ that requires a $70+ monthly contract to be attached to it. If she wants one of those she can get herself a job and pay for it herself. Especially since I don’t think it is necessary that a younger that 16-year-old even have access to a device like this.
I understand that it is 2014 and things have changed a lot in the last few years, but there is no way an eight year old needs access to her own laptop or a ten-year-old needs the latest iPhone/Android/whatever. It is difficult to balance parenting, trends, and your child’s wants versus needs. I’m not suggesting you don’t buy wants for your children because a lot of what we buy for our kids as gifts are wants and not needs (toys etc) but we need to set realistic expectations for our kids. They need to understand when they want certain things they need to be willing to contribute towards the item since mom and dad are not open wallets.
At what age do you think it is appropriate to buy kids large items like cell phones, TVs and computers, if at all?