Friday, January 24, 2014

Does Your Tween Need A Cell Phone?

For over a year, my ten year old son has begged us for a phone. His reasoning, "Mom, what happens if soccer practice ends early and everyone leaves and I'm there all alone?" The only thought that crossed my mind was, "The coach better never leave him or any kid at the field alone."

Here is the truth. Many of my son's friends have a phone. He wants to appear cool, so he wants one too. After a year of begging and coming up with every reason for why he needs one, this fall, my husband said, "If you raise enough money for a phone, we'll get you one." And then he suggested for Jake to start a pet sitting service. We all know what that means. Mom has more responsibility.

I helped Jake make and print out pet sitting flyers. He went around our neighborhood handing them out. And in December, only a few weeks later, Jake got his first pet sitting opportunity. It was the only one he needed to give him enough money for a phone, because there was an iPhone (which was the phone he wanted) on the market that was now priced at $99 and he had some money already saved.

My husband's brilliant idea of it taking Jake a year to raise money for a phone was a total flop. He had enough money, so we lived up to our agreement and got him a phone, which truthfully he really does not need.

Since we've had the phone, my son has only really taken it outside the house a handful of times. Twice to a friend's house (which they have a home phone) and a couple of times when he and I were running errands (I have my phone). The rest of the time it has laid on a table in our house. Not because he doesn't want to use it or bring it with him. Because he does! And he has asked.

Just the other day he asked to take it to soccer practice, but it was raining, so I said, "Jake, it could get wet, so I wouldn't. Why don't you just use your coaches if you need to reach me?"  He agreed. Then he asked if he could take it to his friends birthday party, which was at Sports Connection. I asked him if he really needed it and if he thought he may lose it? He said, "Yeah, I'll leave it here."

My son really doesn't need a cell phone. It's all for show. If you are considering getting your child a phone, below are some pros and cons to consider.

  • You can easily reach them as long as their battery is charged and they have it on.
  • You can track their whereabouts with the GPS.
  • The cost. You need a case. You need insurance. You need a family plan. And you need to purchase the phone, if it's a smartphone. And then pay for a data plan, which adds up.
  • Responsibility. Kids are kids. They'll lose things and drop things.
  • Health. Playing games on a cell phone will eventually affect your child's eye sight. Watch out for headaches too.
  • Obsession. It's another electronic device you need to manage your child's time.
  • Noises. My son's phone beeps and rings constantly. His friends who have phones now have access to him. And when they are bored, they are sending lots of 'Whatz up' texts.
  • Parent time commitment. It is another to do for me to monitor and manage. Especially because we only have a certain amount of usage on our shared data plan.
I'd love to hear about your experiences and thoughts!

The fifth Wunderkind Family children's fantasy chapter book will be released May, 2014!


  1. Thanks for linking up to the Kid Lit Blog Hop! Would love to hear more about Josh and the Gumshoe News Crew: The Super Secret!

  2. We broken down and got our son a phone when he was in 6th grade. He rarely had it charged and he lost it our house somewhere. It did end up being more for "looking cool" and once he had it, it became not important. His friends would even laugh about him having his phone charged.

    1. Hi Jill, It's been an adjustment for me. I'm not loving him having one. Especially because he's now turning to texting his friends for info, instead of coming to me. Got to start mastering the parent controls on it!