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More Independent, but distracted - Amelia's first year with a phone

Amelia, aged 11, from Bristol shares her experiences of phone ownership – from the ‘contract’ she signed with her parents to getting lost on the way to school

I finally got a phone last September, just as I started secondary school. I was one of the last people in my class to get one and it felt like I had been waiting forever. Most of the others had one in year 6. My parents said I didn’t need one, as I was only walking down the road to school, but I think it would have made sense to get one sooner.

Negotiating a contract

There was a lot of discussion with my parents before the phone arrived. Mostly about when and where I could use it. But I was relieved that I was allowed a smartphone, as I know one girl who just has this old-looking one. My parents and I decided we’d come up with a kind of contract between us. This is what we agreed:

  • No phones after 8pm
  • Phones to be charged in the kitchen
  • Phones can be used anywhere except the bathroom
  • Parents can access phone whenever
  • Mainly use home wifi and only use data when essential
  • No social media until the legal age (which varies from 13-18)
  • Get permission to download games
  • Be sensible about how much I use it

I was mostly OK with the rules, except for the no social media one, as loads of my friends have lnstagram. But it was an improvement on the first version, which said I was only allowed my phone downstairs!

Coping with peer pressure

The phone has made a big impact on my life. These changes have mostly been for the better, but I do feel as if some bits have not gone quite as well. It’s like I never get a break from life anymore. There is the peer pressure, and feeling like you can never make a mistake in a message.

One of the better things is I feel more independent. I can plan when to see my friends without going through my parents. It’s like I have more control over my life. I also now sometimes walk 40 minutes to school and the phone makes me feel safe. When I first started the walk, I took a wrong turning and ended up lost in the docks. All I could see was boats. Thankfully, I could call my dad, who got me back to the right route.

But I sometimes feel my parents get cross with me more often now, even if they are trying to protect me. The other day I was on my phone messaging and my mum started getting annoyed. She told me it was unhealthy to spend so much time looking at a screen, and I should interact more with the real world. I realise she was right now, but in the moment I got angry and shouted back.

Getting used to phone life

At first I thought it was a bit weird that my parents could look at my phone whenever, or that I might not be able to see everything online. But I don’t really care or notice now.

I don’t go online much, as I mainly use my phone to chat or play games. I use the computer in the kitchen for the internet.

I do sometimes feel like my phone distracts me from real life. If I’m in the middle of a conversation and I get a message, I’ll turn to my phone while the person is mid-sentence, just to see who messaged me. And if I hear a notification, I’ll rush to check my phone.

But I’d never be without my phone now.