My two oldest girls recently had slumber parties to celebrate their birthdays. They each have the sweetest groups of friends, and I adore their mamas. As they planned their parties, we talked about decorations, food, games, getting to swim in our new pool, and where everyone wanted to sleep. The one thing I didn’t plan or think about was: devices. Thankfully it wasn’t a problem (this time), but it did get me thinking about future slumber parties.
The average age for a child getting their first smartphone is now 10.3 years old. According to research released by Nielsen in 2017, of the kids who have phones before 13, 45 percent get them between age 10 and 12. And 16 percent have phones when they are 8. By the teenage years, 95 percent of kids have access to a smartphone. All of this translates to more phones at younger ages. This means that phones are the norm in places where they used to be the exception: including, but not limited to, slumber parties.
I realize these devices are a part of our lives now, and please hear me out before you get upset. I just don’t feel phones and devices are safe or a good idea at a slumber party. While my girls and their friends are great kids being raised by sweet parents, a slumber party full of girls can quickly turn into a mob mentality. It’s a place where good decisions can easily be tossed out the window, and pranks and teasing take over. Toss in social media, Internet, and a camera phone? Well, that’s just a recipe for disaster.
The Whole Purpose for a Slumber Party is to Be With Those People
Our kids should interact with their friends, be silly with them, learn how to communicate, play games, paint nails, have makeovers, pillow fights, learn conflict resolution, and veg out on junk food. When we let our kids hang out with their phones, they’re not present with each other. Your kids will never say, “I had the best day of my life spending time scrolling on my phone!” But when they are in the moment and making those memories with their friends, those are the times that they’ll remember and cherish!
I’ve had a couple friends say they want “so and so” to be able to get in touch with them in case they need them. I promise, I am here if they need anything. We have a landline (how old school are we)?! But we work from home and need a landline. Plus we have our own cell phones. You or your child are welcome to call at any time. Even if it’s at 3:00 a.m. and your child just wants to come home, they will be able to get in touch with you.
So, at the risk of being labeled “The Weird Mom,” I want to encourage other parents to push for unplugged slumber parties.
Here’s why those devices should stay home:
- SAFETY–There are dangerous people and dangerous content on the internet that a group of unsupervised kids just doesn’t need to access! They’re curious–they’re going to push the boundaries of what they’re allowed to do. (Yes, your perfect child will be tempted just like you were at their age). Their little brains just aren’t thinking of consequences, especially in this setting.
- RESPECT–Your Internet/Netflix/YouTube/etc. rules may not be the same as everyone else’s at the party. Your child may be allowed, for example, to listen to music that someone else may feel is inappropriate for their child. Each family has their own rules. The easiest way to respect everyone is just to eliminate the source of the problem.
- COMMUNICATION–Make these kids learn the art of communication and being present in the moment with those around them. The other things online can wait. If there’s an issue with a friend at the party (because we all know girls = drama), then they can work it out instead of rushing to social media to vent.
- MEMORIES–By not spending the evening glued to the phone/iPad, they’re bonding with their friends and making memories. They’re forming strong friendships and using their imaginations. These are the memories and moments that make up their childhood–not scrolling their phone or playing the latest video game.
- SURVIVAL–I guarantee they will survive one night without their device, and I think they’ll be shocked at how nice it was not to feel that constant pull to their device. It’s freeing. They can just be who they are and be in the moment. It’s good for their brains to not be staring at that little screen.
Join Me, Fellow Mamas
So, I challenge you to join me in pushing for unplugged slumber parties. I know it won’t always be easy, and you may be met with some pushback. But I think if you weigh the pros and cons, we can all agree it’ll be a better party, a safer environment, and happier kids in the long run. One day, I believe they’ll thank us for it.
What about you? Have you encouraged your kids to have an unplugged slumber party? If not, do you have any smartphone rules in place? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!