Should I give my teenager a mobile phone?

I grew up as a teenager with a mobile phone. I have observed two extremes in parenting, and seen both of them fail on my classmates.

If we don’t give them the device, they won’t use it irresponsibly, right? Wrong.

It is like saying “if we don’t buy them cigarettes, they won’t smoke”. A basic used smartphone is very cheap. You could buy one yourself in a month or two by saving your lunch, public transport and class excursion money. Or you could borrow your friends’ phone to watch the porn or socialize on Facebook.

Kids laugh at naive parents who think they can prevent the activity by just taking the tool away. We don’t have to make our kids stay away from smartphones. We must make them feel good for staying away from porn and peer pressure.

My kids are different. If we give them the device, they will use it responsibly, right? Wrong.

There are kids who don’t watch porn and socialize responsibly. But going against harmful peer pressure does not come naturally. It takes sincere work from parents to build a character of moral superiority for doing that.

Yes, there are teenage gang leaders who turned their gang over to righteous activities, but usually it was because a relative, a teacher, a caring adult took the time to work on their self-esteem, values and character.

My takeaway: what to do for my kids

Islam is balance. My responsibility isn’t to protect my kids from the real world. My responsibility isn’t to throw my kids out there and let them survive.

My responsibility is to make sure my kids can live on without me, if I die tomorrow.

My responsibility is to guide them how to deal with the real world, without compromising their moral values and character. I’m learning how to do it bit by bit, day by day. May Allah make it easy for all of us.