Friday, May 23, 2008

Yes? Or No?

I have a question for all of you. What do you think is an appropriate age for a child to have a cell phone?

My son has been pleading on a daily basis for his own cell phone. He'll be 10 in a few weeks. I told him he could get one when I felt there was a need for one. He doesn't even use the house phone very often, but he NEEDS a cell?

He doesn't travel far from the home without adult supervision. He usually plays with the kids who live right across the street. So why the obsession with a cell?

Most of the kids in his grade already have them. That's why. Good old, "Not fair, so and so has one and so does so and so!" Which, if they are involved in a lot of extra-curricular activities, I can see the necessity. But the thing that annoys me is that he shouldn't KNOW that so many kids have them. The school shouldn't allow them from being taken out of their backpacks. They are in school, if there is an emergency, I think the school phone would suffice.

I see kids walking around cub scouts chatting away, texting, and playing games on them. It's obnoxious and rude, in my opinion.

Don't get me wrong, I am the lover of all gadgets, but isn't this just a little too much? I see my nieces at family gatherings with their phones on the table in front of them. You can't even hold a conversation with them because they are constantly responding to text messages.

I know my son, he'll use a cell as though it were another toy. Like another Gameboy. He'll be downloading games, ringtones, and Lord knows what. I can only imagine how much that first bill would be!

I know one thing, he'll be texting, that's for sure.

We went out to dinner the other night and he was getting fidgety. And my boy can get quite fidgety. I let him use my cell to text his father across the table. I know, I know, I wasn't really helping my camp in my son's "I Want A Cell Phone" campaign.

W. then asked if he could text his classmate, S., who he had been playing with that afternoon. S. is a girl who lives around the corner from us. I said he could text one hello and that was it. She texted back a greeting as well.

Later on I was looking to make sure that was all he did and I saw a draft that he had started but hadn't sent. It said, "S., will you be my girlfriend?" He apparently doesn't want to wait until 5th grade.

I guess texting is like blogging, in a way. He never would have had the guts to ask something like that to her face. I know with blogging it's also so much easier to "put something out there".

Technology, is it helping our kids grow up too fast? I wonder.

14 comments:

The Fritz Facts said...

I have strong feelings about cell phones and kids. I never had one, and they were popular when I was in high school. I never even had a pager. I worked 20 hours a week, went to school, played softball and had dance class three nights a week. I never had a cell phone. I was accountable for my whereabouts and my actions. I gave my parents the number of where I would be, and if I wasn't there and they called, I got in trouble.

Now, with that said there are situations where a cell phone would be warrented, but not for a 10 year old (in my opinion). My boss as work is divorced, and his two boys have cell phones because they change houses so much. Much easier for friend contact, and for parent contact. They both did a ton of activities before the divorce, but never had a cell phone.
My kids will not have one until they can pay for it themselves (whcih means GET A JOB), and they will be on our plan not their own. I will limit texting and phone calls per month, if not block texting. I text, have nothing against it unless it gets out of hand and is all they do. I don't want them to think that it means they don't have to give me the number of where they are going and what they are doing. They will be held accountable.
Sorry for the long rant...this subject has been discussed a lot at work lately.

Jen said...

I'm a big party pooper, I think my kids will be the lastones on the planet to get cell phones. I just don't see the need for kids to have them. In fact, I think it's really obnoxious when kids have them. One of my husbands cousins just turned 8 and he got a cell phone. It boggles my mind. I can't think of any reason to give a kid a cell phone if they'r under the age of 16 and even then only if they're able to help pay for it.

And yes, I'm aware that this post makes me sound like I'm 80 years old.

Laura said...

hmmm....My first reaction is to say no...but then, I got to thinking, and it may help teach independence and offer some security in today's scary world. I know that there are certain phones that only allow parent-entered numbers to call. That way you could control the calls he makes. Also, I would make him work to pay for it - jobs around the house or at the neighbours. Then each month you could go over the bill with him to teach the value of $ and simple math and such...

I would also be sure to set strict rules that only have one strike and you are out - as in no using at school, no "rude" behaviour that is spelled out ahead of time. Maybe once he gets it the novelty will waer out.

Tough call though! Hee hee...pun intended!

Melessa said...

My daughter is 10 and also wants one. For the time being, I can't imagine why she would need it. I am debating getting one for her when she starts junior high and rides the bus to school. There has been exactly one instance in her life when it would have come in handy (dress rehersal for acting class ran short and she needed to be picked up earlier than the teacher originally told us), but she was able to use another kid's cell phone to call and tell me.

My nieces (and that kid from class) all have them because their parents are divorced and they do seem to help coordinate with the house swaps. In that case, I see the need for them. In my daughter's case, not so much.

meleah rebeccah said...

The day my son turned 10 was also the very same day he GOT HIS OWN cell phone.

I think its perfectly normal and safer for kids to have cell phones.

I actually loved it since now when he goes outside to play I can find him a whole lot easier!!!

Zephra said...

Yes.

I gave both my older kids one to be able to reach when they are in after school activities. I found it necessary. I just took Kamran's away a few weeks ago and it has caused problems for me when I need to get in touch with him.

On the other hand, it has become another thing I can use against him...

Tricia said...

I think a child can have a cell phone when you feel there are benefits for you. Since you'd obviously be paying for it, perhaps the right time isn't so much a litmus test about age as much as it is about what's most convenient for you as a parent. I also agree with Zephra...it's one more power tool for mommy.

Bonnie said...

I am in your camp. I don't think they should have them until they have a job in which to support their texting obsession. My hubby bought one for my oldest (12) for christmas. It is one where he has to pay in advance for the minutes. He loves it but doesn't make much money so it is just a cool thing to carry in his pocket. The schools have phones. If it had been up to me my oldest still would not have one. This was the best comprimise I could come up with. Over my dead body is when he will have a camara phone.

Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

My kids have cellphones, but it is because I wanted them to have them (for my convenience), and both got theirs at age 13, when they were in co-curriculars at school and we needed to coordinate rides. I think they should not be treated as toys. Unless he has income to pay for it, I say don't let him have his own.

Mrs. Schmitty said...

Thanks everyone for your input. I really think he needs to wait. One he isn't responsible enough, I mean he can't even put his clothes in the hamper in his room! He really doesn't have a necessity right now. He also needs to learn that just because "everyone else" has one doesn't mean he has to follow the crowd.

Maria said...

I say give him a cell phone when he is out of your sight. Liv is nearly nine and that is what we do with her. We have a cell phone for her but it lives in my lingerie drawer and she is only allowed to take it when she is away from us, far away....like at an overnight or a movie with friends. NOT at school.

And we do not have texting on it.

Mrs. Schmitty said...

Update: Mr. Schmitty and I spoke more about it today and I think we may go the same route as Maria. Get a cell that will be given to him ONLY when he leaves us for a while and may need it.

I appreciate everyone's help!!

Kelley said...

My girls didn't get one till high school. And that is only because they were traveling long distances on the train. AND they have to work to pay for credit.

I say buy him a video ipod. That way he is the coolest kid on the block and it works out cheaper in the long run.

EE said...

We bought my oldest daughter a cell phone when started middle school. I've never regretted this decision....she's never abused the privlige(sp).
Reilly is starting middle school in August. She'll be getting a phone for her birthday in July.