Tuesday, May 19, 2009

To Phone or Not to Phone?

Family Allowances by T-MobileHave you noticed the new ad on my sidebar? There's a bit of an explanation behind it--a firm representing T-Mobile approached me to see if I would like to take part in their new Family Allowances campaign in exchange for a paid sponsorship to which I said, "Why yes, yes I would! Thank you very much."

The set up was simple enough, I was supposed to take a quick quiz on their site to see what my "parenting style" was like then share it with you good people (and if you've read my blog for any length of time I bet you can guess what kind of style I have . . . I'm not exactly quiet about those kinds of things am I?)

Well (surprise surprise) after taking the quiz I was informed that I am "Sergeant Strict" when it comes to parenting. I guess that's because they didn't have anything stronger than that . . . like maybe "Fascist Female" which is what I'd probably have been labeled if the quiz had been longer and more in depth.

But I have to put a word in my defense because I'm actually a firm believer in allowing someone as much freedom as possible unless they give me a reason to think that's not such a good idea. But the thing is, the quiz didn't measure that, it kind of started on the assumption that I would give my children cell phones. (Pardon me while I giggle here).

Now while I really and honestly do think T-Mobiles new "Family Allowances" campaign is a great idea--it's focused on helping parents manage their kids' cell phones and promote responsible cell phone use by kids--and I tip my hat to the great idea of reaching out to moms to help spread the word, I have to say that after thinking about it I have come to the conclusion that I'll never give my kids cell phones. Nothing against the technology really, I think cell phones are a fabulous modern convenience--they're just that. A convenience. Not a necessity.

Nowadays it's kind of assumed that children "need" certain things: television, video games, a car, a computer, an ipod, a cellphone . . . when in fact not only do they not need them, and I would argue that those things are often downright dangerous.

Why? Oh the reasons are plentiful but here are five:

1. More electronics just mean greater distance from reality.
The more involved you are with technology whether it's through television, chat rooms, the internet, texting and the latest download the less time you have for real life relationships and endeavors. The teen years are especially important for building (or at least trying to maintain) interpersonal relationships and handing out an electronic device that will be your competition for their attention seems like a huge mistake.

Besides, handing a child a cell phone just gives you a false sense of security that somehow you're keeping tabs on them or keeping them safe--and that same cell phone that you think is somehow magically protecting them is the vehicle for their friends "sexting" them and sending them pornographic pictures in Biology class. Great. There's irony for you.

2. Toys are a status symbol.
You realize don't you that as soon as you present your child with the latest and greatest gadget that the first thing they're going to do is brag about it to their friends, right? We've become a society that looks for all sorts of measures of success and I really don't want my children to start thinking they're cooler or better than the next kid just because they've got the latest video game system.

3. It's important for children to want things but not get them.
I once heard someone say that a child should always have things that they want but will never get and while that sounds harsh it's true because that's life. There are plenty of things I'd really like but will never be able to have . . . like a private jet or my own Caribbean island or even a room full of Godiva keylime truffles or the body of a supermodel. Learning that you don't always get what you want is a rather important thing to learn in life.

4. Gadgets are expensive.
In a time when Americans are saving next to nothing and spending more than they earn the last thing anyone needs to hand their child is a $2oo gadget. Hey, maybe you're one of the ones who can afford it but with four kids I certainly can't. The money would be much better plopped into a savings account for my retirement or for their college or used for paying off our home. Or, if a treat is in order, using the money for a shared family experience like a vacation together where we can actually talk together rather than spend time looking at screens.

5. Media and electronics are addicting.
I know this sounds all conspiracy-theorist and all that but I really do believe it. There have already been plenty of studies about how we watch too much television but I'm convinced that texting and video games and the internet can also be addicting. How many times have I come out of a movie only to see a dating couple both flip up their cell phones and immediately start talking to someone else rather than the person they're with? Or how many people have I seen at restaurants having dinner with that special someone only to be on the phone chatting with their girlfriend? Don't get me started on video games and computers in kids' bedrooms . . .

So now that I've mouthed off about this subject and I'm very aware that I'm probably in the minority here and way out of my league I'm curious. How many of you have cell phones (I myself do not, I had one but the contract ran out and I never renewed) and how many would give them to their children?

You can take the T-Mobile quiz to find your style of parenting here--I'm curious what other styles there are out there.

But here's my own little quiz:

  • I have a cell phone.
  • I would allow my child to have a cell phone.
  • I would carefully regulate my child's cell phone usage.
  • I think having a cell phone is a modern necessity.
  • I think you're crazy--what's the big deal with kids having gadgets?


Congratulations to Janet of Fayettville, North Carolina who won this weekend's triple giveaway and to Jennifer of Family Musings who won a copy of A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family.

Sponsored by Dimples and Dandelions with the Serena and Lily Bedding Collection for children.


Jolanthe said...

Have a cell phone - but our cell phone is our only phone since we ditched the landline. :)

I'm with you on the reasoning too.


Peruby said...

Cell phones were a life saver for me. It is just me and my daughter and when I was coming home late, I could let her know. When she was out and on her way home she would call me to let me know. That way I would know she was en route. I probably spoke with her at least every two hours so that I knew where she was almost all the time. Now that she is 18 an entire day can go by.

Edi said...

We have one cell phone and my dh usually has it. It's great to have along on long road trips "just in case".

Not only do I think kids do not need cell phones of their own (can always borrow the family one if there is a definite need) - I figure most adults don't either.

Why do you need to be having lengthy conversations while standing in line having everyone overhearing your conversations (and I've heard some interesting ones!)

turnitupmom said...

Oh, I'm right there with ya, sister! You're not the only Sgt. out there! I really appreciate your reasoning behind this.

One Mom said...

I turned out to be a Sgt. Strict too. Somehow managed to raise my kids without cell phones although we did get an 800 number so that they could call us from anywhere at anytime..no excuses. I wonder how many kids today have ever used a payphone?

JanMary said...

I took the quiz - and I too am Sgt Strict.

However, my daughters no have their own mobile phones. They are very basic models, they saved up their own money to buy them, they put credit on them with their own money, and only get to take their phones out occasionally - see why I am Sgt Strict?!!

Diane at Kidoozy said...

As soon as my kids are a little older I'm sure they'll think mom and dad are 'ancient' for not letting them have their own phones...but they'll get over it.

Aimee said...


Why, oh, why do people look at me like I have three heads when my views on all the "modern necessities" for children eventually come out. I find very few people in my personal circle who have views like this.

It's especially hard when our own family's views are 180 degrees from ours. My 9 yo wants to know when she can get a laptop!

Um, how about never? At least until she is an adult and works and saves for it.

Katherine said...

I have a cell phone - its one of those prepaid models - costs me $5/month. WHEN my kids need a phone (high school perhaps), that's what I plan to get them - if they want extra time on the phone or texts it will come out of their pocket. That $5 provides about 30 minutes a month - plenty to keep in contact with me.

My 13 yo would like a cell phone, but isn't pushing hard on it. He would really like a laptop - we're still debating whether to allow him to buy himself one. He bought his own iPod with birthday/Christmas/allowance/lawn-mowing money.

a Tonggu Momma said...

I get teased for being too strict all of the time, but the quiz labeled me as a "Quick Wit." Still, I'm often scared that the Tongginator is too quick witted for me.

As for cell phones, I'm one of the rare few who actually only uses my phone for emergency situations. Only my husband and the Tongginator's school knows the number -- even I forget it half the time. Which means the Tongginator will NOT have a cell phone as a teen... unless it's one with prepaid minutes that SHE pays for.

Robin ~ PENSIEVE said...

Reading you this morning, Michelle, I'm reminded why I LOVE your blog and the way your present thought. Logical, respectful, straight forward--I never have to wonder what you think.

Yes, we're a cell phone family, but a reluctant one. My husband and I have them for convenience, and now that my daughter is driving and my son will be in a few weeks, it provides a way for us to know they're where they're supposed to be.

We're VERY wary, though; we do allow texting, but we have a "no erase" policy; our kids know we may spot check at any time; and we watch their use on the internet. It's not convenient, but they know there are eyes paying attention.

I was stunned at the peer pressure re: cell phones. NOT from kids, but from their parents!! Children in ELEMENTARY school have them, for crying out loud! WHAT ARE PARENTS THINKING??? Most are going in to these purchases without understanding where it can lead :(. It's giving children a freedom they might not be able to navigate; and I agree with most of your assertions in this post.

In other words, our convenience comes with a calculated cost :/.

Sheri said...

I am an admitted techno dinosaur, I don't even know how to text and dont pay for it on my cell -gasp! But I did get my son a cell phone last year, because he was going to band camp at an out of state university and I wanted him to have a way to contact his friends or band leader if he got lost or was late. I am strict but I was more worried about him being off by himself on a large university campus.

He also has to earn money by mowing in the summer to cover that phone. He earns enough that it pays for the phone all year, so he does have to be responsible. I have also taken the phone away on many occasions.

All that said, getting a kid a cell still seems like the worst possible thing to do. They are out of control with the texting and they stay constantly connected to the drama of junior high with that phone.

I have set curfews on his phone (thanks,ATT Smart Limits!) so it only allows him to send and recieve texts during certain times of the day. I'm very aware that without the curfew he'd be texting 24/7. And I know most of his friends are.

I have talked to parents whose kids have cells for medical reasons or because both parents work long hours, so I agree there are legitimate reasons, especially if you don't have a landline anymore. But I'm a big believer in using the tools you have, like setting a curfew or restricting the time limits. They don't need 24 hour a day access to anything.

Can you tell this is a hot topic for me :)

jacjewelry said...

I agree, kids don't need cell phones. :) Half the time I wish I didn't have one - or had the kind that makes only outgoing calls.

Lucy said...

I shouldn't even get started on how I feel about cell phones so I'll keep it short. My cousin is raising her grandchildren. She fell for the 'he's the only one in his class without a cell phone' line and got him a phone. He's 13.
It will come back to bite her. Children are too immature for cell phones. They should never be given one. For about a million reasons.

Your post was great!

Jennifer said...

I took the test and I'm a quick-wit. Of course, though, I just use the wit to deflect a little bit of the sergeant that will come out afterward.

Sea Star said...

Sgt. Strict here too. I don't have a cell phone and don't feel it is good for children to have one either. Your thoughts echoed mine on this subject. Children don't need more gadgets!

Grace @ Sandier Pastures said...

I have a cellphone, no landline. I took the quiz and it says I am a Terrific Teach but my daughter is just 5. I'll take the quiz again when she's a teenager - I bet my answers will be DIFFERENT!

B;end said...

Why do kids need cellphones? this diverts his attention from important things like studies and descent behavior...

Jordan (MamaBlogga) said...

My husband and I have only cell phones, probably largely because neither of us have to pay for them (thank you my parents and DH's job!). We don't have a landline, so it's kind of vital that I have a phone of some kind.

Here's my question, though—I've had a cell phone since I was 16. My parents got me one (as a complete surprise to me) then because I had my license and thus could be stranded (and actually was once). They also said that the fact that I'm a girl played into their decision.

My husband, on the other hand, doesn't see the necessity there. (Let me tell you about the one time I was stranded: I had two of my sisters with me and we got a flat halfway to church. We had to pull into a convenience store—you know the kind with bars on the windows? It wasn't quite in a total ghetto, but another couple blocks and it would have been.)

What say you (all) on that issue?

Jordan (MamaBlogga) said...

Oh, and @Bend—In addition to having a cell phone since I was 16, I was my high school valedictorian (but this was before texting, too).

Allysha said...

You make some really great points. I agree with them, which is probably why I think they are great!

Kathy G said...

All of our boys got a cell phone about the time they turned 16 (which for Son #1 was almost a decade ago). They all drove themselves to (parochial) schools and had activities afterwards, so it was a good way to keep up with what they were doing.

Back then texting wasn't very popular, so we didn't have to fight that battle. Six years later, when Son #3 racked up a $50 texting bill we insisted he reimburse us for it, and when he insisted he HAD to be able to text, he had to pay for that portion of the plan. The family rule was that we would pay for a basic phone; anything on top of that had to be paid for by the boys.

We paid for all the phones while they were in college; now we're getting ready to redo the plan and send them all our on their own. I'm looking forward to the savings.

Summer said...

Well I'm in agreement with you. We have one cell phone and hubby and I take turns with it. Whoever has the car takes the cell phone. And the kids? No way are they getting cell phones until they're much older.

MaeRae said...

Michelle, I read your blog everyday and love it, one because you are a mom like me and I love hearing the stories and knowing that my kids aren't the only ones with a strict overpowering mom, and two because you speak the truth.

It pained me, ouch plus, to buy my 15 yr old a cell phone for christmas this year but it was necessary after a horrible ice storm took out all communications for three weeks this past December. My husband and I have had cell phones for a few years only because we both work full time and needed to be able to have the schools contact us. My boys did not need them in my eyes. We are the most basic of basic families when it comes to electronics and my kids are always telling us so. My boys just graduated from a used PS2 to a used (gift) X-box and they are only allowed to play them 3 hours a month. Yes, a month, I agree that kids do not need any outside interferance from screens.

We are one of the only families (only know of two others) that we associated with in our circles who still SIT everynight as a family for dinner.

And people wonder what the world is coming to?

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

I agree with your reasoning. very nice. I am tied with strict and witty...

Amy said...

Here is an analysis of the same issue from someone who started out saying "never" but changed her mind.

Chasity said...

I agree about gadgets being privileges. My son has no TV in his room for the very reasons you listed. I'm probably alone here when I tell you I don't even own a cell phone, so I couldn't vote at all. I'll THINK about giving my sons cell phones when they're teens, but until then, its not necessary in the slightest.

Janel said...

I'm another Sgt. Strict. I hate quizzes that assume stuff.

Hubby refuses to carry a cell at all and I have a pre-pay for emergencies. Emergency equals blood, guts, an immediate relative taken to the hospital, missing child, local tornado sitings and similar. Emergencies are NOT customer service calls or "Mom where is the..." questions while I'm out. (Had a talk about that second one.) So when my cell phone rings, unless it's been prearranged that someone will call, it's safe to assume that some part of the planet has ground to a dead stop and someone is probably bleeding. It's comforting in an odd sort of way.

It's amazing to me how many company reps are offended when you refuse to give them your cell number. Some are even rude about it.

If there was a situation where it was necessary for one of my kids to have a cell, we would get them a pre-pay. Right now they still think it's stupid that the 12yo neighbor has one.

Annette Lyon said...

Once my kids hit junior high and have extra-curricular activities and more friends and all that, I WANT a tether to them where I can keep tabs. That's why they get a cell phone. (I freak out when I think how little contact my parents had with me when I was a teen and hanging out with friends--I could have been anywhere, and they wouldn't have known it.)

My kids' usage is strictly monitored--they have a short list of people they can call (mostly family and neighbors in an emergency--it's not for friend chats), and absolutely no texting. It's for my own peace of mind--and so far we've gotten the phones free and the plan for about ten bucks.

Flea said...

I am SO with you. I got a cell phone two years ago, at my husband's insistence. But the kids - that's been the ongoing debate. My oldest is 16 and still doesn't have one.

Of course we were bad parents and got the 15 year old an iTouch for his birthday. I had no idea there was texting capability. And there's no camera. We're a gadget family. So I guess I'd be somewhere in the middle. Off to take the quiz!

Flea said...

Huh. I'm Sgt. Strict, too. Go figure.

tjhirst said...

I have a cell phone because it's part of my husband's business plan. I turn it on but mostly only call him on it. My children --teens and pre-teens feel like they are the only kids at school without them.

The addictive nature of them is that once you have it, it becomes the lifestyle, then it's there and impossible to get rid of.

MommyK said...

We have two cell phones and no land line. It has worked wonderfully, and I would be extremely uncomfortable not having one, especially since I'm alone with the kids a lot and provide all their transportation, and because my husband drives an older car. Cell phones have gotten me out of jams many times. Like the several times my first car broke down, or the time some teenagers showed up at the Tot Lot and proceeded to smoke pot. I pulled out my phone and called the police.

My kids are only 2 and 4 right now, so no phones, but when they are old enough to be left places without adult supervision, or are depending on other people to drive them places, they were most certainly have phones. In a city as large and as dangerous as this one, it's a no brainer for me. However those phones will be standard models, not iPhones.

As for other technology, I think it's just a part of life, and at some point the kids will probably have laptops and iPods and such, but there will also be limits on them.

Scribbit said...

Okay I'm the last one out of bed this morning because I wanted to read all the comments and the kids are wanting breakfast and wondering why I'm still in bed . . .

I appreciate all the comments--you're all wonderful! It's nice to hear too from those who have had more experience with teens as I'm still a newbie.

It'll be interesting to see how things affect my feelings as we slowly all switch to cell phones over land lines--

One time I was with my mom in Seattle and the rental car broke down right as we took a wrong turn into a dark and seedy area of town one night and the only thing that saved us was my cell phone.

But my kids having one? I'm still having a hard time with that.

Maddy said...

Very interesting. I did that yesterday too but couldn't figure out the 'share' etc choices to save the results. However I was a 'witty' whatever it was which suits me just fine.

I've done teendom once......not pleasant. Not particularly looking forward to repeating the exercise three times more especially now that I am so much older.

That said I think a sense of humour is a parent's greatest weapon and best sanity gadget.

planetnomad said...

I was a Sgt Strict too! Dang. But while I agree with much of your reasoning on cell phones (and esp on electronics in general), I do think there's a place for them. Sure they're not necessary, but they really do simplify our lives! We are seriously discussing getting one for our teenaged son; we'd buy it and he'd have it to call us, but would pay for any other calls himself.
The question is proper use/abuse of phones. I don't chat during movies or church or in public or while driving. He wouldn't either--or he'd lose that phone quickly!

Reno said...

I have a cell phone (seldom used since I don't go anywhere!) and I loan it to my 15 year old when there's a need. After he gets his driver's license, he'll probably get his own cell phone. Or I may just continue to loan him mine.

Tammy said...

We have a cell phone, that we just got recently. It is a Trak phone (spelling?) and we have 800 minutes that will hopefully last us all year. Obviously, no long conversations will be going on with this phone! We got it for emergencies and cases where we need to get in brief contact with someone while we're out.

And I don't think it is necessary or even wise (in most cases) for children/teens to have cell phones.

Kim said...

My 11-year-old daughter has mentioned how many of her friends have cell phones . . . and I have pointed out that their moms work fulltime and need a way for their children to contact them. She does NOT want me to go back to work outside the home, so we end the discussion happily enough. I really don't know what we'll do when she moves into the teen years and is driving, going out with friends, working after school, etc.

I was recently at the Seattle airport, and I could not believe how many people were on their laptops and cell phones (TEXTING as well as talking). Our society seems to be changing in how we relate to each other in public spaces—everyone's heads are down, engrossed in their virtual world.

Anonymous said...

My son had a cell phone because he went from high school to work and got off after midnight and came home. It provided a safety net.
THEN cell phones were not allowed in the classroom and if they MUST bring them to school they checked them into the office for the entire day and were given them back at the end of school. He kept his in the glove box of his vehicle turned off until school was out.
Cell phones do NOT belong in school and I'm sorry Parents it is your Fault! If you are serious about your children they would be following your rules and it would be no cell phone at school!

Laura said...

I couldn't agree more with you. It's tough for my kids because they don't have the latest and greatest like all their friends but I'm holding strong. It definitely helps confirm my decision after reading great posts like these. Thanks!

Scribbit said...

I have had a cell phone for about 10 years until January when my plan ran out and we opted not to renew and I've been through a bit of a withdrawal phase.

I only used it for "emergencies" and when there were emergencies it was very handy but people would often ask for my cell number and I'd never have it on so that was rather useless.

What's been a hard thing to be without though is that now when I'm out running errands I can't call Andrew at work and say "What are you doing? You want to go to lunch with me?" :) I miss that.

So the no-cell policy has probably saved us tons of money.

Angela Fehr said...

Love this post! I participated in your quiz but I couldn't check off a single one of your options. I don't have a cell phone and it was just this year that my husband needed one for his new job. Until then we were both cell phone virgins.

I have been reading the Little House on the Prairie books to my kids and my favourite thing to tell my kids right now is, "Laura had a CORN COB for a doll!" Kids don't need everything.

Nate and Stacia said...

Funny, those are my exact same 5 reasons that my kids will NOT have cell phones. I, however, do have a cell phone and rely on it heavily but will not talk on it when I'm in a line or out with my family.

Reiza said...

I have a cell phone because dh travels and it's the only way to be sure he can reach me. I'm addicted to it now. Although, like many others, we're looking to completely replace our landline.

I can't see giving kids cell phones either. I completely agree with you on all the points you made.

thepipers said...

We don't even have cell phones! And I totally agree with your entire post.

Anonymous said...

Loved the article; agree with you 100%.

We have a cell phone (a single antiquated digital model that doesn't even take pictures - imagine!) with the cheapest low-minute rate we could find. We orginally got one because we commuted from Wasilla to Anchorage and it seemed a reasonable safety device (if one you had to keep in mind would not necesarily work 100% of the time!). We maintained it for the same reason when we moved to Anchorage and had kids, particularly for wintertime travel (even just about town) and during road trips.

If my kids were old enough to drive, I would probably give them the same deal: simple, low-minute phone service, no texting or pictures.

JChevais said...

Hubs and I are all about the cell phones. For ourselves. For the kids, we usually let them "borrow" one of ours if they're going out for a bike ride or go to the bakery for bread.

My kids don't have computer privileges and while we have a wii (it was a gift, we didn't buy it ourselves) we hardly turn it on.

I have friends that have given Nintendo DSs to their 5 year old children and I know of an 8 year old with a high tech laptop in his bedroom.


TJ said...

we have cell phones and no land line. we have moved several times, and we also travel a lot (lots of driving across lots of states) and so it's somewhat of a safety thing for us. also, my husband has to do training things that sometimes last for months, and having cell phones are the cheapest easiest way for all of us to stay in contact while he is gone.

my husband and i will probably disagree on this when the kids get older, but right now, i don't want them to have cell phones until they are old enough to know how to use them responsibly. and we'll probably have a fam computer out in the living room for everyone to use, rather than them each having their own until they get to college and they will probably have to have one at that point. my kids did have a TV in their room, but one was hooked up to a DVD player so they could watch a movie sometimes in their room, and the other one was hooked up to the Vtech. we're in a new house, so we'll see what happens with those.

having the same plan as the rest of your family when you get older and moved away is a great thing. you can call each other for free. my husband and i use them a lot when we go to big stores like walmart and costco because we split up and each take one kid. makes for an easier shopping experience.

i'm sure technology will advance even more by the time my kids are old enough to go to high school.

Robin said...

Wow, things here in Israel are really different - a cellphone is considered a basic necessity, I wouldn't dream of leaving home without it. It's gotten me out of jams, helped me find my way, given me a way to consult with my husband on home repair purchases, and a thousand other helpful things, and that's just this week.

My kids are still too young to need their own phones, but the day they start going places on their own, without me, I will make sure they have them. I don't want to wonder if they've made it to their destination, or if there's some kind of security alert on the news I sure as hell want to know if they're safely far away. I want to know who they're with, even if their plans change, and I want them to have an easy hassle-free way to reach me if they want to change their plans.

To me, a cellphone isn't a strict/not strict issue, I'm plenty strict with the things I feel require it, and when my kids get phones they'll get them with limited access, possibly no texting at all, but no way would I send them out into the city without one.

The Dunns said...

Yay! I totally agree with you in every way, but I can never say it as well as you do. We don't do video games or computer games in our house either. There is so much else they can do that can stimulate their creativity and build relationships. Thanks for your clarity and sound sense! (Sgt. Strict here, too.)

Chrissy Johnson said...

I got in plenty of trouble without cell phones in my day, my kid I'm sure will, too. Although...I knew how to use a pay phone and ask to use a public phone if I was ever in a tight spot. Now, these things are becoming more and more scarce...so I'm on the fence. Maybe I'll get Xander one of those Jitterbug phones (they're geared towards the elderly - http://www.jitterbug.com/) when he's 13 or something...it's so not hip, only practical.

Valerie said...

Coming from a techie family, I didn't realize there were still so many people who either don't have a cell phone or don't use it except under extreme circumstances.

We gave up our land line years ago and have just used cell phones since then. I love it because we don't get sales calls and I'm available even when we're out and about. On that note, I'm not one to have frequent or lengthy phone conversations anyway, so it still doesn't get a ton of use.

Because we don't have a land line, the subject of getting another cell phone has been bobbing around in my mind. Our oldest is ready to stay home by herself for short periods, but I don't feel comfortable leaving her home without a phone to call us or for us to check on her. We will probably get another phone soonish that won't be "her" phone so much as the "home" phone only to be used between K and us when she's home alone.

Yesterday we bought a new cover for hubby's iPhone and as we looked at the cute, stylish covers, K asked when *she* would be getting an iPhone. Ummm, when you're grown and can make your own purchasing decisions!

The Source said...

I have a cell and my 19 and 15 yr old kids do, too. Not the 11 yr olds, though. They feel very left out because most of their cousins and classmates DO have phones and have had them since 3rd grade. We provide the 15 yr old's coverage but the 19 has to pay for his own now that he's in college and has a job. High school is the limit...I don't see why anyone younger would need one.

Most of the 5th graders are also beng picked up from school by LIMO on the last day complete with "drinks", food and music and taken to lunch. Bill footed by parents, of course. What's left when they go to prom? Or get married?

We don't have handheld video games or unlimited access to internet, either. Want to know what my boys do with their time? Play! Outside! With each other. Weird.

InkMom said...

Every year for Christmas, my husband buys me a big box of Godiva key lime truffles. They last me until about February, and then I long for them for another 10 months.

M said...

Amen, sister!

Mrs. Organic said...

I've had a cell phone ever since my son was in school and had a medical emergency and I was unreachable.

I think our situation is a little out of the norm, though. His medical care requires me to be away from home so much that my cell phone IS a necessity. It saves me long distance fees because I can just call our second cell to keep in touch with my family.

As far as the kids getting one of their own? Mine are the only ones who don't have one in our neighborhood (if my kids are to be believed).

Janet said...

I am a middle school teacher - more than half of my students have phones that are nicer than mine. I understand a young teen having a phone in some special (note: extreme) cases, but I do not think it is nearly a necessity for most. In the past few years that cell phones have become popular amongst our students, I have also seen a rise in general rudeness among our kids. I think in some cases they have far too many priveleges and freedoms that have been unearned and become expected.

Carissa(GoodnCrazy) said...

I was so schocked when I opened up a conversation about cell phones.. Ppl are all over the place on this issue.. what i think is totally normal others think crazy...? Who knew!

Headless Mom said...

I agree with you on all points. I do have a phone but I use it less than 200 min. per month, no texting, no web access, etc. My boys will not get them until they drive.

Could you tell I got Sgt. Strict, too?

~3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

Michelle thank you so much for making feel like I am no longer alone in this reasoning. I am 100% behind you and your train of thought. Kids do not need cell phones and as for televisions and computers in their rooms, I'm against that too. I want the TV watching and internet surfing to take place in the communal parts of the house. As for being SGT Strict, you go for it girl. Kids crave discipline and thrive on it to become happy, resourceful adults. My kids call me Drill SGT, but oh well.

I've been away for the last month and am playing catch up so thanks for starting me off on a roll! *grin*

april said...

Your poll should use ticky boxes, not radio buttons, because I have a cellphone, but I would also closely regulate what cellphone use my kids used. They don't need anything fancy, just something that will make calls. No camera, games, etc. That's what mine is.

I took the quiz and I got the same result as you. Then again, I tend to agree with most of your parenting practices, so. :)

Laurel Nelson said...

I took that quiz and I am a "Quick Wit" - the upshot of that is kids would have to get up a lot earlier to sneak something past me! Course it's easy for me to do that with small ones.

Paula said...

Both my husband and I have a cell phone....we are grandparents raising two grandkids ages 9 and 11....I agree with everything that you say here and find it a sad state of affairs but not sure than when the time is right I will give them both a cell phone...

Wild Squirrel said...

I have a cell phone with limited minutes (100 per month) and I've had the same plan for over 12 years. (What can I say? I'm a loyal customer to a very affordable plan.) I mainly have it for my small business. My parents bought my oldest daughter a prepaid phone a couple of years ago for her birthday. When the minutes ran out, we refilled it once. Since then, she has paid for it herself. Recently, I tried to call her on it and kept getting an "unavailable" message. Seems she has run out of money and the desire to earn more to pay for it. I love it when I don't have to say a word for her to understand the lesson in it all. :-7

illahee said...

i got the same result, but it was kind of hard to answer a couple of questions. also, my kids are so young so it's not like they'll have a phone any time soon.

buuuuuut, i live in keitai-obsessed japan and there are plenty of elementary school kids with their own cell phone now. mainly for emergencies, and many have GPS technology so if your child ever went missing...

for a long time the only phones my husband and i had were cell phones. the only reason we have a land line is for the internet. and i'm not so sure if it's a true land line phone or not! LOL

Melissa-Mc said...

Amen, Sistah! I took the quiz and am also Sgt. Strict. I do have a cell phone, but it is for emergencies as I only have 60 min/month. Our children do not have cell phones, for which they feel quite deprived. We tell them they can get one when they are on their own and can afford them. Poor things, we don't have cable either.

The Random Muse said...

I was given a cell phone when I started driving and started college. I jokingly called it my electronic leash. But it was only half a joke, I knew by then (I was 19) that it was a tool and not a toy. It was also as boring a phone as humanly possible and thus no status symbol. Now that I've transferred to a university an hour and a half away from my parents, my phone is practically another limb. But, I'm at a stage in my life where without easy long-distance communication, I would be cut off from everyone. I live for the days when I can go home, stash the phone in my room, and hang out with people who are important to me in real life.

I don't have children yet, but when (if) I do, they won't have cell phones until they a) need one and b) are old enough to handle the responsibility.

Sorry about the novela; I got a little carried away here.

Shannon said...

OK I have to comment today. I was firmly in the NO CELL phone for the kids when we were in the states. In fact I didn't even have a cell. It would drive me CRAZY to see moms out walking the kids and yakking away on the phone instead of talking to the kiddo.

Then we moved to Indonesia. The cell phone became a necessity for not only my husband but also for myself and the oldest child (then 14). He played sports and violin in the orchestra so often he rode home from school on the late bus or with a friend it was very reassuring to be able to call him and make sure he was OK just stuck in traffic again. We did keep an eye on his usage and when he first got it we drilled him on who to call if there was ever time he needed help, since 911 isn't an option there. We did the same drill when he got his phone here in Germany.

All the same if were back in the states he would be plain out of luck unless he got a job and paid for it himself. And the younger kids (4, 7 and 8 years old) won't be getting one for awhile!

Stephanie said...

Since I've been working I've been appalled at the use of technology I've seen. Whole families sitting down to eat together - each completely engrossed in their own little gadget. Parents bringing in little DVD players for their toddlers to watch a movie during dinner. People who can't put aside their phone long enough to give you their order...It is ridiculous,

but we are considering getting K a cell phone. Only b/c we are starting to leave him at the house alone or with one of the other kids some. Since we only have cell phones, he has no phone at all when we are gone.

Patois said...

I'm stuck on the Godiva truffles.

I fall into the camp of allowing cell phones. My kids walk home from school. I just feel safer that they have the phone with them.

The extent of their cell phone use? Recharging.

mumple said...

I have a cellphone--a tracfone. It's not even a "real" cellphone! I have it for the "just in case" thing--coming home at night after work, travelling to church (40 minutes on some bear & deer travelled roads), stuff like that. I rarely use it--I have to make an effort not to have 6billion minutes saved!

The Toad got a cellphone when he was 17--and it was a tracfone, too. At 20, he got a "real" cellphone, but HE pays for it, and he is 20.

I can't imagine the Howler getting a cellphone (I see me giving her mine if I think she'll be somewhere she may need to call us, like the skating rink or at Grandma's for a week.

I can't fathom why a 10 or 11 year old "needs" a cellphone. They do not need to be in 24/7 contact with anybody. Not even me.

(Plus, if they have that phone, it's MOBILE, and that means that she may not be where she's telling me she is, you know?)

Mary@notbefore7 said...

I have a cell phone - an iPhone actually and love the convience. BUT I am pretty good and tampering my technological addictions as needed (hence the first time you have seen me comment in a long time though I do keep up reading!) BUT I do often find myself misusing it at a time I should be in the "real" world and have to correct myself.

Kids? NO. Don't plan to hand them out. I have heard of the idea of a "family phone" that can be taken for emergency use (ie stranded, lost, etc) Maybe make it a pay as you go phone? I don't know. My kids are 6, 4, and 2 so I have time to sort it out :)

Love your reasoning here on gadgets in general. WE go back adn forth on the Wii because of the addictions we have heard. My kids are quite content without one, but it looks so darn FUN! So far, we resist!

chelle said...

I have a cell phone, mostly due to our contract allows my husband to call me anytime, anywhere. So he can be on a conference as we can talk. And in case of emergencies. We have simple phones with a simple package though.

My kids are a little young for cell phones but I am not one to buy into the all my friends have one argument. Once they have a job and pay for the bill I may feel differently.

Peruby said...

Another thought. I read somewhere that you don't have to have a service for a 911 emergency. Just keep an old cell phone charged and in your car. Once you dial 9-1-1 they have to accept the call.

Wendy said...

I just had to chime in here. I am so with you on the nice but not necessary thing. And I blame them for many of our social downfalls - like no one stops to help stranded drivers anymore, no one assumes that the stranger behind you in line at the store is talking to you - they must be on the phone, and if you try to strike up a conversation they probably are on the phone. Everyone here (Oklahoma) is still pretty friendly but I see it passing. And I hate it.

Motherboard said...

I'm tied with quick wit and Sgt. strict.

My children do have cell phones, but they are the Trac Phones. When they use all their minutes texting before we are scheduled to purchase more... Gosh that sucks for them.

I like my kids having the cell phones. Especially my teenagers.

I do think, however, that there has to be heavy monitoring.

I have so many filters on my computer that its more fortified than Fort Knox.
I think just willy-nilly handing out cells phone without strict rules is just as scary as handing your kids a computer without filters.

They have been especially useful when the teens at church I teach have called me from their cell phones saying "Come help me. I've gotten myself into a situation and I need out." That has happened. If they hadn't had the cell phone, I shudder to think what would have happened.

Unfortunately, I think they are a necessary evil.

Madeline said...

I have a cell phone, but my kid's not getting one. I agree with each and every one of your points. I don't think that all the modern "necessities" are really necessary, and I fully believe that in many cases they are downright dangerous for kids (and adults for that matter).

Anonymous said...

Two more options. 1. Your child can have a cell phone when they are able to pay for it. 2. Your child can have a phone when they get their driver's license. At some point in time it becomes a safety and convenience issue.

perilloparodies said...

We are Mr. and Mrs. Sergeant HERE then! Cell phones for kids, no... Cell phones for teens, eh... depends. but not always convinced that it is always necessary. Tell me it is as i watch a teen texting someone during church. I am grateful for the help a cell phone can be in an emergency, but I DO think it has been taken to much of an extreme, especially with kids.

SkippyMom said...

Every year our schools yell at me [literally get angry] because I don't have a cell phone number.

I am a SAHM. I don't need one, nor do I want the added expense or nuisance of one. Our home phone is listed, Dad at work & his [paid for by] work cell phone is listed as are two grandparents.

If they can't find one of us throw that list then I don't know what an extra cellphone is going to add. It drives me nuts.

And our two youngest? 12 yo no cellphone, and the 17 yo has a pay as you go used specifically for rides and notifications to us because WE pay the bill. She wants to add money every month she can text all she wants.

I HATE cell phones. Sorry. I just do. How did we survive without them for so long? Really?

And payphones existed for a reason for a very long time - to keep in touch and the "just in case" scenarios. We lived with dropping a quarter, why can't everyone else? Oh, that's right. Convenience. Sigh. Sorry. Really.

I just don't like them.