Friday, May 20, 2011

God Bless the Child who has his Own - Cellphone ?

Oh dear, oh dear. What is one to do as a "nature" oriented parent in this age of technology and kids wanting to spend all their free time in front of a screen? One tends to think that life gets easier as the diaper era turns into distant memory and the kids become more independent each day. But what about cellphones? Since the day our son entered 6th Grade, middle school, our life has become hell in the battle over cellphones. He has wanted and needed a cellphone for about 3 years now.

We heard plenty a story of lost cellphones in first and Second Grade. But those were brushed off as figments of the child's imagination. What kid that age would need a phone?

The first time the topic came up for serious discussion was two years ago, when our son announced to my husband that he needed a phone in case he got stranded at a baseball game or practice. DH's response: What? How would you get stranded? We take you to each practice and hang around till it's over. Your mother and I have never missed a single game. We are Velcro parents...What are you talking about?"

Things got more serious when he announced that his 6th Grade math teacher had told the students he would send them homework assignments via cellphone and email. What? It turned out it wasn't really a requirement. The boy just wanted a phone because supposedly ALL of his classmates had one. Are we bad parents for saying "no"? When is the right time to give a child a cellphone? Will my child turn into a social outcast because I am not giving him a cellphone.

This morning came the last stroke. Our youngest daughter won an eraser mock-cellphone. My son's response: "Even she got a cell-phone before I did."

Oh boy! Must we cave in? Maybe I am just afraid that my kid may turn into one of those morose teenagers sitting on the sofa texting all the time and not wanting to have a regular conversation any more. I have witnessed first hand, kid's sitting right next to each other, callused hands sending endless texts like: "What are you doing?" "Oh, just sitting here texting you." How do I explain to the kids that my tweets are somehow more valuable or important? Well, they are for my business...

He is turning 13 in the fall. What he really does need is a new bicycle since he has outgrown his old one. But I know what he wants more than anything is a phone. Do I get him the bicycle, or do I let him join his texting friends? Please, I'd like to hear some opinions from other parents who have fought this battle. When is the right time to give a child a cellphone?

Useful Links on this topic:
WordHealth Organisations Report :

Parents Magazine:


Rachel~ At the Butterfly Ball said...

Well that is a tough one! Our eldest (turning 14 in a few months) has a cell phone with 250 "talking" minutes a month and zero texting or web capabilities. We do drop him off sometimes at the library by himself for a grand total of about 30 minutes at a time. And he and his little brothers sometimes stay home alone while I run quick errands in town. But he never actually asked us for it... He has a lot of responsibilities and we wanted him to be able to communicate with us if for any reason we were not together. But we have taken care of the possibility of becoming one of those texting zombies by not giving him a phone with texting! And when his minutes are up... he has no more until I add airtime. Although he has never run out of minutes since he has had it. He calls his friends from the house phone!

softearthart said...

It is a tricky one, he does not really NEED one,it is just that some other children have them. My daughter got one when she was 15, prior to that she did moan a few times. Maybe you can suggest if he can afford a Top up card (at $20 a month) and earn something towards it, a bigger chore duty around home, that you might consider it.
I do think that to be honest a bike would be the better choice,and say you will consider a phone on his next birthday.
It is another interference with the Natural world.

Cheers Marie

barbara said...

Ulla, we gave one to our daughter when she turned 13 in November. Apparently, if she didn't get one she was surely going to die. Texting and internet are blocked.
Guess what she's been asking for now that the weather is so nice?
A new bike or skateboard:o)

germandolls said...

I like the idea of earning money to top up the card. It's important kids know that these things cost money...

woolies said...

my personal opinion - it today's world, it is critical that my kid can reach me, or I can reach him. I think both my kids were in 7th grade when they got their first cell phones, or was it 8th grade? Limit the amount of texting they can do, until they are older. My younger son had a friend without a phone, and he could never reach anybody - he ended up being a bit of an outcast. He showed up at my door one day because it was closer than his home, and he couldn't reach his parents - due to no phone - and he had a problem. I think it's critically important that my kid can reach me when he needs to. Also - we no longer have a land line at home. Everybody has their own cell.

Mike said...

At least as a parent if you child has a cell phone. You can find out where they are.