Lord of the rings: was it wise to give my tween a phone?

A toy of Gollum from Lord of the Rings holding a toy smartphone.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post discussing when it was sensible for kids to get their first phone. I concluded that starting secondary school was a good marker.

Cut to the present day and oldest is in year six. And, yes, we just gave in and got him his first phone ahead of schedule.

There were some sound reasons behind the decision to let him have one earlier than planned. First of all, just about every kid in his class already has one.¬†We didn’t want him to feel left behind and it’s only a few months early.

Secondly, my mum had recently upgraded her phone so there was a decent second-hand one available. Thirdly, it was Christmas and 2020 was really horrible.

Three pretty compelling defences, I’m sure you’ll agree. But I’m me and I can’t help but carry out a post-match analysis.

So do I regret it yet? Let’s examine the evidence so far…

As soon as he unwrapped his new phone, something weird happened. It was very much like the scene in Lord of the Rings when Smeagol first discovers the ring – minus the fratricide, of course.

Mercifully, he hasn’t gone full Gollum yet, so there’s hope. He hasn’t started referring to it as “my precious” or neglected to dress properly.

Nor has he argued with himself, eaten raw fish of tried to lead us to a massive spider, so I’m hopeful that he won’t be corrupted by its powers.

But it has to be said that it commands his attention in a way I can’t and he gets a definite Gollum look in his eye when it’s near.

Plus his brother already sits like Middle Earth’s favourite loincloth model at dinnertime, so he may yet do so himself.

Ah well, never mind. Taking after something from Lord of the Rings is probably marginally better than Lord of the Flies – although the phone could undoubtedly make an acceptable surrogate conch.

Then there are the prank calls and texts. He’s forever phoning me from other rooms – literally making himself Lord of the Rings – spamming me with emojis and demonstrating his admittedly strong GIF game.

It’s left me feeling like a Fool of a Took, I must admit. I shouldn’t have told him that calls and texts to me are free. I remain optimistic that he’ll stop it soon though.

So the jury’s still out on whether this saga will end in a parenting victory or another epic fail. But maybe I should reply to the next wave of GIFs with some of Gollum.


  1. Eddie

    Hopefully the novelty will ware off soon and the spamming ceases. Loving the Lord of the rings comparison.

    My 2 eldest daughters both have mobile phones, nothing special just old phones after an upgrade. Its a god send my eldest having a phone at her mums as we keep in contact daily with WhatsApp messages and video calls. My eldest step daufhter also has a mobile phone, we let her have my old one throughout the first lockdown so that she could regularly keep in touch with her Dad and to play roblox as her tablet was deceased.

    So far so good and both have shown good responsibility.

  2. John Adams

    Ah, mobile phones. They are the absolute antithesis of childhood but, alas, a part of life. I take it you have parent controls in place? Even if you do, there are those families for whom parental controls are a foreign concept. Good luck with it Tom. There is no right or wrong answer to the mobile phone question. . . just a stream of parental headaches!

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