I don't know if this is "expert" parent advice here. Take it or leave it. It makes sense to me.
Ainsley is not old enough for a "real phone", but she has been wanting one REAL bad. Not like I'm going to throw a tantrum if I don't get it bad, but like I'm going to ask oh, every month or so for awhile. Lately I have noticed her desire for a phone is ramped up. It wasn't until I understood why she REALLY wanted a phone.
She doesn't want it to watch YouTube or play games or watch shows. She wants it to TEXT! if you know Ainsley, you know, she is super social. [She didn't get it from me.] She wants to discover the world and meet everyone in it.
One nice thing about iMessage is that it doesn't need to be tied to a real phone number. It can freely send messages within its own network. Think AOL Instant Messenger. If you know the other person's AppleID name then you can initiate a message. By the way, this is why the Apple platform is better for privacy. Apple doesn't make your user name public. There is no search box to type in names like Facebook or any other social network or messaging service. Just like it's pretty hard for one person to know another person's phone number. You'd have to be a hacker/creeper. Finally, Apple has a decent solution to children's accounts. You can learn more about at https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201084
I say all of this because I feel Ainsley is safe messaging us in this system and is in no way going suddenly communicate with strangers. It will stay very locked down to communicating with just her parents. Not even friends yet. Plus, you really don't want her to have your number anyways. She'll message you to death if you let her.
"Text messaging" your child for the first time is an interesting experience. It's a different voice, in a different medium. As you can see above we have had some sweet, from the heart, conversations.
I did tell her she can't message me until I get home, unless it's an emergency. The next day I almost immediately received a text message from her as soon as I got home. You can tell she had been waiting all day to send me a message and show off a new feature she discovered. Like the effects and drawings you can send.
She, of course is loving it so far. I know her and Andrea have been swapping a lot of messages too. As her parents we are her inner most network. I am trying to prepare her to communicate well via these "texts" and use proper grammar. No short hand. She can learn that later on after she knows how to write pages of proper paragraphs.
P.S. English and Grammar were my worst subjects in school. Especially in high school. But you woudn't be able to tell by my report card. I had the same English teacher my 10th & 11th grade year. I got straight A's. Easiest class ever. Later, in life I slowly learned that teacher robbed me of some important skills. My kids will not be robbed of those basic skills.
Dictation though is something new that I didn't have growing up. "Kids today" have an advantage of growing up in this age of voice dictation and digital personal assistants (Siri, Alexia, whatever Google's and Microsoft's are called). I think it's possible for "kids today" to learn how to do more than just hand write & type. They will learn how to dictate and use voice commands. The technology is only going to get better and cheaper. It's ubiquity will win out. That's Amazon play and many other tech companies.
It's been fun seeing Ainsley grow and mature like this. I know the teen years are still far ahead but Ainsley tells me she won't be like those crazy teenagers when she's a teen. lol <<<<< That's text speak Ainsley and George. Don't do it! Emoji's are cool though.