Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kids and Cell Phones

How young is too young to buy your child their own
cell phone?
My 10 year old has a cell phone.

No, I am not one of 'those moms', so please, keep reading before you judge. In fact, I'm quite the opposite.

When the kids and I moved 2000 miles away from their dad, I allowed him to buy her a cell phone. That way, he could talk to the kids whenever he wanted, without having to call me or have the kids use my phone. I was completely for this, and it was a relief a few times when I was on my phone and The Girl wanted to call her dad. But her dad, and her grandmothers were the only people she was allowed to call on her phone. No friends, and she was not to give the number out.

Then, around Christmas, when her dad came to visit, The Girl lost her cell phone. Though I was pissed about the lack of responsibility with keeping up with her phone, it wasn't such a huge deal because Hubby and I decided to get back together, so if he wanted to talk to the kids, I could just hand the kids my cell phone during one of our nightly conversations.

Lo and behold, during a massive clean out of the kids' closet this weekend, she finds her cell phone.

"Mom, can you tell dad I found my cell phone."
"Okay. Sure. Why?"
"So he can add minutes to it."
"And why would he do that?"
"So I can use it again."
"Because I found it, and it's mine, and it's a cell phone, used for calling people... if I have minutes."
"But, your dad and I are back together, so if you want to talk to him, go use my phone. We don't have a need for your phone anymore."

With this, she huffs and puffs and storms off to her room. End of story?

She's 10. Of course that's not the end of the story.

She pops out of her room, with her little attitude, and asks, since it's her phone, why can't we just put minutes on it for her to use.

Well, what reason would you like first, my dear? The one where you lost the phone in the first place, which shows irresponsibility for taking care of your belongings, so just because you found the phone doesn't mean you get to use the phone.

She looks down at the ground, can't seem to find the words to argue with me, huh? Sweet, let me put the nail in this coffin so I can get back to scooping out the litter box.

How about the one where you are only 10 years old, and I was highly against a 10 year old having a phone in the first place, but because it was to be solely used for talking to your dad, I rationalized it, but now that your dad and I are back together, we don't need to waste the money on a phone for you when you can just use my phone. Is that reason good enough? And, did I already mention you were only 10? I did. Okay, just making sure.

I see her start to open her mouth, I raise an eyebrow, she gets out, 'But mom,' then realizes she has no argument, and goes back to her room.

I am one of those moms who is completely opposed to young kids having cell phones. I don't think any kid who isn't in high school should be walking around with a cell phone. Middle school aged kids should be given a cell phone when they go out with friends and such, but to have one, that's theirs, I don't agree with that, sorry.

I have heard of people buying cell phones for their 9 year olds. Please, explain to me why a 9 year old needs to be texting or calling other kids in their 3rd grade class? With the exception of the scenario I stated above with a split household, what is the reason for giving a kid, especially under the age of 13, their own cell phone? I would honestly love to hear some of the reasons people do this.

I read a blog one time where a mother was talking about giving a phone to her son on his 7th birthday because he threw a temper tantrum for one. I wasn't sure whether I wanted to spank the spoiled rotten little kid or the mom for giving in and buying her 7 year old brat a cell phone.

In my opinion (and y'all came here for that, right?), doing things like buying young kids cell phones just facilitates them growing up too fast. Let them be kids. Let them worry about video games and playing outside, not calling another 11 year old to get the latest gossip or texting that cute 12 year old boy to see what he's doing this weekend. Holy crap, really? People wonder how 13 year olds are getting pregnant in this day and age, but they are sexting (sex texting for those not-so-in-the-times-people) other 13 year olds, or actually, 15 and 16 year olds, not acting 13, because they have the means, bought by their parents, and they aren't monitored on them.

If you can't tell, this happens to be a topic I am very passionate about.

A friend of mine was seeing this guy one time whose ex-wife allowed his 11 year old daughter (she may have been 12, I can't remember) to have a cell phone. Now, this little girl did not look 11 (I was floored when she told me how old the girl was), did not act 11, and was glued to her cell phone, texting heaven knows who, the entire night when we got together for dinner. Come to find out a few weeks later, the little girl had met a 15 year old boy online, and had been texting him. I honestly can't remember what my friend told me occurred between this 11 year old and this 15 year old via texting, or facebooking, because all I could do was stand there and argue with myself to not go find the 11 year old's mother and strangle her.

I'm sorry, but kids nowadays have entirely too much freedom... and with freedom comes freedom of choice, and what's a guarantee if you give a kid the right to make their own decisions? They'll screw it up- it's inevitable. So why give a young child the freedom associated with cell phones, of texting and hitting 'delete' as they get them and send them so that you never read what they are writing? Or of calling heaven knows who, when they say they are calling their best friend?

Not in my house, not with my kids. My daughter still has her cell phone, which has no minutes on it, because she likes to pretend to make prank phone calls with it (which her brother finds more funny than watching a dog eat peanut butter), and she likes to take pictures with it. That's all fine with me. And, of course, if there's ever an emergency, 911 works on cell phones without minutes just fine.

Am I the only mom out there who views young kids having cell phones this way? I tend to be old fashioned when it comes to some things, so is this one of them? Please, by all means, share below, and if you are a mom who chose to buy their young child their own cell phone, I'd love to know the reason why. There's a way to post 'anonymously' below, if you'd like. Let me know what you all think!!

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  1. Amen.

    When I was young my mother allowed both myself and my brother to keep a cell with us, but it was strictly for emergency situations, and never had enough minutes on it for us to call anyone for fun. I didn't have a cell phone for my own use until 10th grade, and it was the bare. minimum. I envied my friends their complicated phones and unlimited texting at the time... But now I feel differently about it. Those same friends (who are all addicted to their iPhones these days) can't go five minutes without tapping their phone screen to make sure they aren't missing anything. We can't even get together for lunch without them interrupting our conversation to answer an email or text... And they're ADULTS now! Just goes to show that bad habits start young, and have deep roots.

    1. Sweet, glad to know I'm not the only one. If a kid is taught that stuff at an early age, of course I can see it carrying over as an adult- which is ridiculous.

      Thanks for commenting, and I'm glad you found Inklings! =)

  2. PS -- Hi! New to your blog and loving it. :)

  3. I totally agree with you! I got my first mobile when I was 20. I was told I could get one whenever I wanted but I had to pay for it. When I finally got one it was more down to the pressure of people who knew me. they said I was impossible to get a hold of despite having a landline with voicemail and email.

    But I was 20. I was out and about a lot and involved in loads of things. At ten I definitely didn't need one. Even at 15 I didn't need one.

    And to add to that, I didn't get the internet until I was 14 so I'm of the mind that if I had a child I'd not let them use interwebs until they were 14 either.

    Good for you for standing your ground. If she does bring it up again tell her she can use it if she pays for it. I find kids lack the ability to budget for those sorts of things and if she does develop the ability then at least you'll know she's gaining more responsibility.

    1. My kids use the internet, but to play webkinz and watch funny cat videos on youtube, lol. I do monitor their internet usage heavily. No facebooks, no chat, etc.

      Thanks for your comment! It's always a pleasure! (I messaged you a link to my portfolio on twitter, too!)

  4. I did allow both of my kids to get phones the last time I upgraded...I only did this so when they leave the house to go play outside I can keep tabs on them and where they are...we have an insane amount of sex offenders very close to us...I want my kids to go outside and play with their friends but sometimes this means they walk alone and my daughter does not look 9...they do not have Facebook accounts and are only able to call and text.. My girl doesn't even use her phone at the house..we don't do phones at dinner..I think as long as its made clear what the phone is for and its known that its a privilege not a right, it can be a tool for good not evil.

    1. See, now even though my posts states I'm completely opposed to it, I like what you have done in regards to it- emergency use only, not in the house. And I LOVE the no facebook thing. That will probably be a future post of mine, because I feel strongly about that, as well!

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. I completely agree that young children should not have phones, if they are too young to go out by themselves they are to young for phones, and then, some of these kids have better phones for than most adults. No, my daughter is now 14 and has a very basic prepaid Tracfone, because its the cheapest and its all she needs

  6. My brother just turned 11 and has a phone, but he uses it to text me in college and to communicate between our split parents. Most of the time it is left at one of the houses since he only uses it to play games. I completely agree that phones should only be a necessity not a privilege at a certain age. I got my first cell phone at 13 and had been "suffering" without one for about four years because all my friends had one. The way my parents saw it, if all my friends had a phone, they could reach me through theirs. This also helped them make sure I was with the friends I said I was. Eventually they got tired of trying to get ahold of me through my friends so I got my own phone. I had very limited minutes though.