I bought my daughter a mobile phone. My nearly-ten-year-old daughter.
Why, you ask? Well, this fall she’ll be riding the school bus all on her own (and yes, I do know that plenty of kids start riding school buses waaaay before grade five and they don’t need mobile phones). Thing is, she’ll be off school a full 45 minutes before her sister and also earlier than I’ll get home from work. She may sometimes be coming home to an empty house for a short period of time, and I also want to give her the freedom to go to a friend’s house after school, or even to get off at a different bus stop with a friend and walk home another way if she wants. But I want to know where she is, and I want to be able to reach her, without having to go through a list of all her friends’ phone numbers to find her.
That, and I’m sick of her taking over my iPhone and texting “yo dude” to her friends’ moms’ phones.
So yeah. Tuesday her best friend got a phone, and yesterday we headed to the Koodo booth at the mall and picked up a phone for my gal. Since then, she’s sent more text messages than I’ve sent in my entire life (and I’m not exactly a non-texter, either).
Next week one of her other best buds is getting her own phone, so it seems to be a trend, this 10 year-old cell phone thing. But I still can’t help feeling a bit weird about it all. I mean, when I was 10, we didn’t even have cordless home phones, never mind cell phones. Hell, I’m not sure we even had our first push-button phone by then. So here’s my little girl, with her Samsung Intensity slide-out qwerty keyboard texting machine, and I wonder…is it too soon? I have no internal landmark to measure by, you see. In the end, I go by what feels right – it seems to make sense for her to have it, and several of her friends have them, so…
So…what do you think?
crabby girl says
i think you have a valid point re: health risks. plus the waste generated in cell phone manufacture and disposal. i read a study where teens consider their phones to be their first source of status in their peer group so turnover of phones is high – maybe a new phone every 2 years? maybe less? that’s alot of landfill. (and that’s only counting the teens; a nielsen survey reported almost 1/2 of 8-12 yo own cell phones too!)
crabby girl says
a very balanced response; well said
it’s important that we acknowledge there’s no one right way to look at it. my children do not have anxiety issues, and mere possession of a cell phone would not placate any fears i might have so – for our family – cell phones are an unnecessary consumer indulgence. heck, i don’t have one either 🙂
We were not going to buy into the “all my friends have a cell phone” nonsense. However, once our son turned 12, he was suddenly asking for freedom to ride off on his bike with his friends, go to friends’ homes on his home and just “hang out” with his friends at the playground, perhaps wandering off to someone’s house after that with the rest of the gang. We decided to get him a cell phone for US. We wanted him to cal us with his ever-changing plans, to know where he was and who he was with. Yes, he texts more than I knew it was possible, but he does use it to keep in touch with us and I feel more secure knowing he has it if he needs it. With more freedom comes more responsibility, and he is learning this. He even has to pay for his own texting plan! This has been a positive experience. He got a cell phone out of need, not out of desire.
My kids are 4 and 6 and my daughter just asked me yesterday when she could get a cell phone. lol… I told her that her dad was 36 when he got his so she only had 30 more years to wait. (I still don’t have one.)
One point to consider is that I would want my daughter to plan out her playdates and ask permission before hand. I wonder if letting your daughter spontaneously decide to get off at someone else’s house or at another bus stop could encourage her to become more spontaneous and less of a planner. The ability to plan is a great skill that I wouldn’t want her to lose.
Are there restrictions on how many text messages she can send? Does she have an allowance that she could use to pay the bill above and beyond the amount that you have agreed to? That could help her to use the phone responsibly.
This is something that I really struggle with even though my three kids are all still under the age of 3…
I am a huge proponent of technology; it’s not only what I do daily for a career but something I spend a great deal of time with outside of work (arguably too much).
I can definitely see a potential need from a security or safety standpoint, but I’d probably argue that a full blown smart device or phone with texting is necessary. As jemsmama pointed out, I think that the amount of texting that I see taking place with a lot of younger kids is detrimental to their ability to develop real communication channels with their peers; texting is no substitution for face-to-face time with friends. Too often I see, in my opinion, way too many kids face down in the mall punching keys on their phones.
I won’t even get into the ergonomics of mobile devices. Our kids are going to evolve into hunchbacks with oversized thumbs. 😉
Hmmm…difficult decision. If she uses it for keeping in contact with you, and that’s all, that’s fine. I myself worry about the health risks. People laugh at that, of course, but I wouldn’t encourage her to hold it to her head for more than 5 minutes per day! (just to be on the safe side) I’ve had a cell phone for a few years and I use it about 4 times per MONTH to find my hubby at the mall! I’m 50 and I don’t trust the radioactive waves so close to my brain.
We got out only son his 1st cell phone when he was 18. They are not cheap where we live in Canada, and I’d always said we’d get him one when he learned how to drive, which in my opinion is old enough for a cell phone. Sometimes I turn mine off so no one can trace me. Tee hee…technology is all very well, in moderation! Good luck with “progress”!
Mike Jones says
Their is absolutely no need for kids to be adults before 13…Why not just give them the keys to the car and a bottle of whiskey at the same time..
Very irresponsible Parenting today give, give, give..No communication, no talking , just give..
That is why when they become teens and adults they have done or have everything..
Except the true teaching of life which IS the parents number one job…
I think that if it works for you and your situation, why not. Every child is different and every family is different. If you are comfortable giving her a cell phone, don’t let anyone else make you feel like a bad person for it. My 10 year old is not in the same circumstance so has no need for a phone.
My son is 12, and he has been asking for a cell phone for some time now. He insists that all his friends have one and doesn’t see why he shouldn’t. I have thought about it but if I decide to give it to him, my 8 year old son will want one too. I’ve tried the “he’s older than you” scenario before and it’s always a long debate as my 8 year old is a born lawyer.
Anyhow, I always try to tell them both that they don’t need to follow trends, and therefore don’t need to have everything that they friends may have. And they are very good about calling home or my cell to check in when they are with friends.
By the way, my 12 year old used the earthquake we had in June as his closing argument for a cell phone. He came home and said, “Mom this is exactly why I need a phone, after the earthquake they won’t let anyone back in the school, and it was hot outside, so if I had a cell phone I could’ve called you to come pick me up because this was an emergency.” And he said it with a very serious face, I couldn’t help but think that he had a point.
My daughter is 11 years old and does not have a cell phone. She’s mentioned on occasion that most of her friends have them, but she hasn’t really been asking for one for herself.
At this age, I don’t think there is any reason for my daughter to have one of her own. There is no need for her to be texting, she sees her friends every day at school and can call them from home if she wants to speak to them.
I am a stay at home mom so up until now, I have picked driven her back and forth to school. I’ve let her borrow my cell phone once when she’s gone to Wonderland with a group of friends but other than that, she’s never needed one.
The only time I would consider getting her one, is when she is a little bit older and will be going places without supervision. I think there certainly is a need to be able to stay connected with your children when they’re not at home.
I’m in the EXACT same situation…my 10 1/2 yr old really wants a cellphone. I am beginning to give her a little more freedom with going out with her friends alone but don’t feel quite right about getting her a cellphone right now… 1. she’s just like her Dad and would probably lose it within days!!! I have given her my cellphone to take when I feel she needs to be able to contact me if necessary.
I have looked at the “limited” cellphones – the ones where parents program in the 4 numbers and that’s all they can access…am I being unreasonable by not wanting to give her a “real” cellphone? She doesn’t seem to mind and knows the cellphone would be mainly for contacting us – not her friends (although most don’t have cellphones yet)!
I personally have 12-13 in mind for my 8, 8 and 10 year old children, but agree with you – in your situation. My children are still walked to school and aren’t supposed to have cell phones at school, so the need isn’t there for us – yet. They’re already asking and I know the time will come when we have to provide them. Cell phones are both a blessing and a curse and when the time comes, I will probably prefer to look at the blessing side of it.
My 12 yr old has a cell phone and I’m thankful for it!
As for my 10 yr old .. if you had asked me about 2 months ago BEFORE he took off on a “walk” with the neighbors son and was MIA for almost 5 hours, which thankfully ended well with his safe return after a massive citizen and police search! At that time I was WISHING he had one so I could just call him and find out where he was! He doesn’t have one yet as my original rule was that they had to be at 12
.. I didn’t even want it THAT early .. My husband bought him the phone without my opinion involved!
But after that incident with my 10 year old .. we have a basic pay as you go .. if he is going to the park or something .. I make him take it!! We are STILL working on the rule of staying close to him and no matter what, he seems to wander off. But now I can at least call him and tell him to get home! 🙂
Every family is different and every situation different. Would I buy my daughter a cell phone because her friends all have one? No. Would I get one because of an anxiety disorder? Yes. Would I get one because my kid gets home 45 minutes before someone else? No. They call when they get in the house. Plans to go to someone else’s house are to be made the day before.
My kids are 13 and 11. Neither have a cell phone. If there are circumstances that they need one, they borrow mine which is a pay-as-you-go phone that I have for emergencies. They know the difference between needs and wants, so while they might want a cell phone, they recognize they don’t need it, so it isn’t a major issue.
While I agree it is a technological age, I personally do not believe there is a need for them to be texting constantly to their friends or being able to call them from everywhere.
Funny you should post this right now. My son will be 10 in September and wants a cell phone. I have been pondering this decision for a couple of months and my husband and I are of differing opinions. I have started researching cell phone plans. My son stays after school now for team practices and it would be helpful if he could call me if they finish early. (this happened in June when I was not notified of a practice cancellation and and my son was left unsupervised in the school yard with his friends) His friends are also starting to get phones too. I say go for it as long as rules are set for usage. I just need to convince the husband now.
We got my daughter one for her 11th birthday not that she asked for one BUT she walks her younger siblings to school and home at times so if there’s a problem she can call or when she gets off the public tansit to across a major rd to go to dance she calls or txts me when she gets there. She’s on a prepaid plan this way she gets a certain amount that’s it IF she wastes is calling friends ot txts she has to pay for the rest of the time needed for the month she will not be on a monthly plan until she can pay it’s for emergencys
I think the age you get your kid a phone really depends on his or her maturity level. I got one for mine this summer when he turned 10. But just to be on the save side, I made sure to get a prepaid so I won’t have to worry about surprise phone bills. I went with Tracfone. The service is very reliable and I don’t mind that the minutes may not be the cheapest. I know nowadays, you can get unlimited min. for as cheap as $45/month but I don’t want my kid to end up attached to his phone so setting limit with Tracfone is my way of dealing with that issue. So far, so good.
crabby girl says
IMHO, cell phones are a substitute for good communication and the need for a Plan B. there was a woman who gave up one thing a month and wrote a book about it: she was able to survive her month without a cell phone as long as she utilized those 2 tips above.
my almost 12 dd wants a cell phone, but i will not buy/give her one.
My boy got one when he was 8. It helped with his anxiety and, to be honest, he hardly used it. Now at nearly 11 some of his friends have them and he is starting to use it more. I think as long as there are boundaries set why not? They are after all living in the age of technology.
Btw, she and I have been texting like crazy since she got it! Now I know she’s Team Edward 😉