(photo courtesy of USAToday.com)
Who Ya Gonna Call? Kids and Cell Phones Our Latest Drama
When I was about 12, our family got our first computer. It was a Commodore 64. Fresh off the assembly line. Compared to today’s sleek, fit in your pocket world of info, that thing was a big, clunky box. But back then, it was ‘da bomb! The only reason we owned one was because my step-dad was a gadget freak, techie kinda guy, and not really because we were all cutting edge, had to have the latest and greatest. And, there were no kids and cell phones. There were no cell phones period!
He would sit in front of the glowing bluish screen programming in DOS, which made absolutely no sense to me at the time. I just wanted to play Froogger and Atlantis. And, remember Floppy Discs? Ah…. good times!
Kids and Cell Phones
Ethan’s slightly younger than I was then. He’s 6. But, the kid is already asking for a cellphone! “Who ya gonna call?” I ask. “You, of course!” Is always his reply. “What if I need you while I’m in school? At Grandma Lolos’… Or! What if I’m in the bathroom and need toilet paper and you’re across the house? You always tell me not to yell across the house. I wouldn’t have to if we didn’t have the ‘No Kids and Cell Phones‘ rule, right? I have to hand it to him, sometimes, he sounds so convincing I almost totally buy it! He actually has a few friends who have them. I never see any of these kids and cell phones being used to make actual calls though. They are stuck on level 6 of Angry Birds. Or, flying around try to get the kid in Jetpack Joyride through his next mission.
I keep reminding myself that it’s a different world we live in since I was young. We only had 3 TV channels and no cable, let alone cell phones. And, of course I want to be a cool parent and all, but I can’t for the life of me see any good coming from giving the kid a cell phone. The same kid who rang up over $500 in Farmville crap on his grandma’s credit card because she let him play on Facebook alone. (Truth – I giggled at her error but come on, how long did you let him sit there by himself for that to happen?)
Kids and Cell Phones – It’s All About The Apps, Not The Calls!
We’ve been okay with letting him have a few apps on our tablet or on his Nook. (Yes, he does have his own Nook. Books feed your brain!) For the most part, they’re fairly educational. And it does a world of good not hearing ‘Are we there yet?” in the car 4955983 times. But he’s already pretty computer savvy. One click and he can get on Facebook (and ring up $500 worth of crop stuff!) What if he downloads the pricey apps? Or, clicks those free apps directed towards kids that starts collecting and sharing their personal info? Who has access to that stuff? What do they do with it anyways? How do you even begin to teach a 6 yr old about the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and why it’s so dangerous to let everyone know where and who you are at all times because of some tiny string of letters and numbers that you never see encoded in the Memory Game Flash Card app? And what if he gets on Twitter and starts telling people I just stunk up the bathroom? Or, run around the house in my jammies all day? Kids and cell phones? No thanks.
I’m not exactly a Helicopter Parent or anything, but to say I’m scared about the access kids these days have to technology and what that leads to (Twitter, Tumblr, Kim Kardashian’s sex tape….) is a huge understatement. I’m just not that kind of a cool parent. He’s 6. I don’t care what other parents let their kids do. I’m his parent. I just don’t think kids and cell phones belong together in the same sentence.
What happened to playing outside? Riding bikes? Playing Kick The Can with the neighborhood kids? Watching Dora and Diego on Nick Jr. even? My vote is to let them be little while they still can. Kids and cell phones? No thanks. He wants a phone so bad, he can have one of these.
Ok, parents… Chime in. What say you? Kids and cell phones? Yay or nay?
I personally don’t think kids under the age of 12 in general are responsible enough to have a cell phone, but every child is different. There are some great security apps available like Sprint Guardian.
I didn’t own a cell phone until I was 16 and got my first car. It was for emergencies only and was prepaid with like 30 minutes on it (no texting, apps, or internet). Things have certainly! My younger brother and sister both had their own phone by the time they were both 13 and texted all day long!
I think for our son, he won’t have one until at least 10 years old. Maybe before that if he does after-school activities. I can see the importance of having one then, if you needed to be picked up early or something happened. It would be a basic phone (if those are still around 8 years from now!) with no access to the internet or apps.
When I was little there were no cell phones. So, I don’t think a kid under 16 needs one, but that is just me. I know people who give phones to their 5 year old..and that is just not right.
Elizabeth Towns says
I have a rule,too. I cannot even consider giving my children a cell phone until they reach the age of 10. At that time I have to determine whether their level of maturity indicates they should have control of an electronic device which could be left anywhere, creating a lot more problems. My daughter got her phone when she was 10. We were a newly divorced family, she was mature enough, and it knocked out several safety worries for both of us in one purchase.
Melanie S says
I have 3 teens, and none of them have a cell phone! I do not thing they are necessary until they are driving full time, and then we will get a ‘dumb phone’ for calling and texting only. The internet has a lot of junk that kids really don’t need to be exposed to.
Heather ~ Acting Balanced says
We got my daughter a cell phone when she started Middle School because she was having to walk about 3/4 of a mile to the library after school and the library had a no phone use policy because they had so many after school kids… the funny thing is that she is now in High School and never uses her phone… she leaves it turned off in her school bag … drives me nuts because I sometimes actually want to text or call her… but I’m also glad she isn’t phone obsessed…
Teressa Morris says
OMG, I wanted a Commodore 64 so bad when I was a teenager. Had to wait until I got married to get our first PC with a 20MB hard drive, LOL.
Our kids didn’t get cell phones until they were 12 or 13 and walking more than a mile away from home. Before that, we got really good walkie talkies for cheap. I would keep one at home and they could go to the park or wherever and still get in contact with me if there was a problem. And no apps!!
Kelsey Apley says
We don’t have kiddo’s but I do see a lot of younger kids who have phones and it surprises me!
No kids, but this week, one of my coworkers was telling me that her granddaughter got a cell phone for her birthday. Her granddaughter just turned 6. My first thought was, isn’t that a little too young for a cell phone? I know times are different, but I just don’t see why a 6 year old needs a cell phone. Like you said, who are they going to call?
Sarah BB @ East9thStreet says
I’m torn on this but luckily my daughter is only 3. I feel like it really depends on the child’s maturity level, the needs of the family and other factors.
I am also torn. I think that kids need to be mature enough and responsible enough to earn a “smart” phone. However, I would probably buy my 8 or 9 year old a very basic cell phone for emergencies because times have drastically changed and even schools cannot be 100% trusted with our kids. My kids are all under 4 so I have along while to figure it all out.
Amber Edwards says
Oh my goodness! Just yesterday my 9 year old said, “Mom, I want an iPhone! Why can’t I have an iPhone?” well.. How about Mommy doesn’t even have an iPhone! No way in Hades will you be getting one before me! But no. We also don’t do kids and cell phones. It drives me crazy seeing little kids in ELEMENTARY SCHOOL with a cell phone! They don’t need it. If anything, maybe one of those emergency ones that have no internet access, limited minutes and can only call home or 911. Those are ok. But not a real cell phone. They just aren’t old enough to manage the responsibility. It’s not that they aren’t smart enough to manage the tech. That is not a problem at all. but the mental responsibility is an entirely different situation. We’ve talked a lot about what we will do when they become teenagers and having a cell phone. I’d really love to keep close tabs on them with a cell phone. But how much freedom do we allow them? I’m thinking 16 years old we MIGHT let them have a limited cell phone. But it will have limits and boundaries and auto shut offs at night and not allow them to go over minutes. I’m not paying $200 for a kids cell!
Ok…rant over. Return to your regularly scheduled program. 🙂
Debi@ The Spring Mount 6 Pack says
My boys got cell phones when they were in 5th grade. My daughter, who is going into 4th has been asking since kindergarten. I keep saying no. Her friends have iphones. My boys do not even have smart phones.
I am trying to stay strong and not give in but she is like Ethan and makes a convincing arguement sometimes.
Tesa @ 2 Wired 2 Tired says
My two are 7 & 6 and I think too young for their own cell phones yet. They still lose things too frequently. However, they do play on our tablet and computer frequently and they have played on our cell phones here and there. I’m all for them having their own phones when the get a bit older but ground rules will have to be in place that’s for sure.