By Shannon Magsam
Here’s my number. So call me, maybe.
New lyric: If my mom will let me get a phone, that is. Let’s hope she’s crazy.
My 10-year-old daughter is lobbying hard to get her own cell phone. She believes that going to middle school this fall makes a phone not just a luxury, but a downright necessity.
She even wrote a 10-point list today outlining all the reasons I should consider it:
- In case of emergency.
- Text my friends. Not during class, though. (Such a responsible girl)
- If I stay home alone (Fat chance right now, kid)
- If I get kidnapped (Seriously, she went there?)
- If you forget that school ends at 2:45 p.m., I can call you to come pick me up.
- If you forget your phone, I will have mine. (This one kinda sways me)
- In case I forget my lunch or homework. (This one does not)
- If my friend throws up and her mom is at work. (Um, definitely not)
- If I get lost at my new school, I can call my friend or teacher or principal for directions. (…..)
- If I want to go home with somebody to do homework together. It would be C, T or A. No boys. (Whew, that’s a relief. No boys.)
My reaction? I used the phone in the school office when I was a kid and I’m pretty sure they still exist.
A big part of why I don’t want her to have a phone is the monthly fee and access to the Internet. I don’t think she really NEEDS a phone. She’s with me, at school or in the care of another adult I trust all the time. It’s not like I’m dropping her off at the mall or at the movies and asking her to call me when she gets out. We’re a few years away from that. And I don’t plan on leaving her home alone, either.
I asked some of my friends with “older” kids to help me make the call about what age is best. Answers varied — and I ended up feeling like it really just depends on the kid and the situation — but I enjoyed hearing their thoughts.
My friend Lisa Sullivan (and, coincidentally, my first-year college roommate) said Daughter #1 got a phone at age 11 and Daughter #2 at age 10 (because Lisa and her husband were being “nagged to death”). She said she’s never regretted it. I love how she uses FaceTime as a parenting tool:
I can always get in touch with them, I can stay in my pjs when I pick them up somewhere because I can text them rather than going to the door, and we even occasionally have them FaceTime us while they are out so we can see if they are where they say they are!
Friend Amy Volk of Virginia Beach also uses the cell phone as part of her parenting strategy with her 13-year-old boy/girl twins:
It has been a great tool for reward/punishment. We have had pretty firm rules with them…on charger in kitchen at night, no texting opposite sex until this year, I have full access to all texts and messages.
I love this point my friend Angie Albright made about cell phones and texting:
I wrote a blog post about this–texting with teenagers is sometimes very effective between parent and child. I sometimes hear things from my son by text message that I wouldn’t hear in person. That tiny bit of distance makes it easier for him to talk to me about some things. It’s just a little bit of extra communication insurance for the rough years when you might feel sometimes disconnected.
Friend Kelly Zega said she only recently upgraded her 17-year-old daughter’s phone past the “basic” level. Her daughter recently divulged that it really wasn’t that big of a deal to her. But she uses it like crazy now, not only to socialize, but for school work:
In addition to the usual messing around online looking at FB and that kind of thing…she uses her phone constantly to research things for school, work on/communicate about group projects, photograph the board for assignments, etc.
My SIL in Virginia, Leslie, reminded me that Ladybug has an iPod Touch! The kid can use that for now. Leslie kinda hits on my thoughts about the whole thing:
For us it’s about wants versus needs. Our 14 y/o daughter wanted her own cell phone when she was 10; but has yet to have a need for one. She got an ipod touch when she was 13 and has been very responsible with it.
Most of my daughter’s close friends – and even a cousin her own age – have phones. For now, I think I’ll hold out until she’s 12. A little delayed gratification never hurt anyone.
Now tell me RIGHT NOW at what age you think kids should get cell phones!
Shannon Magsam is mom to 10-year-old Ladybug, married to Ladybug’s dad, John, and co-creator of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of Life With Ladybug, click here.