Let Kids Be Kids
This time in your child's life should be one of creative, physical, and intellectual exploration. It's a time for him to try out all sorts of new things -- from sports to music to arts -- without sacrificing downtime. Unstructured play activities, like building cities out of blocks and playing school with dolls or stuffed animals, are important for his development and help preserve some innocence. Problem is, kids today are being introduced to all sorts of teen techno gadgets like cell phones and video games at younger ages, and once they're hooked, simpler pastimes like racing Matchbox cars or swinging in the backyard lose some of their appeal. So the longer you can hold off on big-kid privileges like these, the better. "Your child probably has classmates who own cell phones, but that doesn't mean that yours needs one. Parents shouldn't be influenced by peer pressure," says Hartley-Brewer. And if you've already decided to give your child one -- for reasons of safety or family communication -- you can still set limits on texting and talk time.