Monday, March 2, 2009

To Cell phone our child or not

Okay, you with smaller children may not think that this applies to you, but it does.  At what point do you arm your child with a cell phone?  I used to say high school, but Scott and I have changed our tune.  Tyler gets a cell phone when he can pay for it himself.  I will add him to our plan and all that, but if he has to pay for it, I have a feeling the whole process will go better.  Let me tell you why.

Our thirteen year old niece, who shall remain nameless, just went over her minutes on her parents plan to the tune of $400.00.  Four.  Hundred.  Dollars.  When her parents originally let her have texting, she went so far over, they took the texting away.  They have since taken away her cell phone until she can pay the money back.  I don't have to mention anything else do I?  When I learned of this two days ago and asked her how she could do this to her parents, she replied, "I don't know how to check my minutes".  Really?  Kids today know everything about anything that has to do with an Ipod, a cell phone or a computer.  They are way smarter than we are, so I called her on the carpet.  I think all of us know someone who has had to deal with this, the answer is not to get unlimited minutes.  What does that teach our children?  It solves the immediate problem, but not the long term.

That being said, young teenage minds do not have the right wiring for consequences.  They don't think before they act.  They believe the best until the worst happens.  That is why they have parents to keep them alive until they can make proper decisions.  That is basically our jobs, keep the kids alive until they can function on their own and not make complete fools of themselves or worse.

That brings up something I think is very important.  You cannot wait until your kids are teenagers to decide what they can and when they can do it.  You and your hubby need to figure all that stuff out, hash it out, when they start to walk.  When will your girl be able to wear make-up?  What about the cell phone question?  When can they date?  That is a big one.  Make these decisions early, because these kids are dealing with things at a much younger age than we did.  If we heard about something or tried something our senior year, they are doing it in sixth grade, or younger.  It is a scary, scary world out there.

I know all the arguments from my teenager as to why he needs a cell phone.  He makes a great argument.  He will someday make a great lawyer or senator.  He still isn't get a cell phone until he can pay for it himself.  I am the meanest mom on the block and proud of it.


Melissa said...

I am a firm believer in sell phones for our kids. My 14 & almost 12 year old have one. We found it most important with my younger one, because she does have Type1 Diabetes, but it also has porved to be valuable with both...My oldest has many after school activities which leave him looking for a phone. They are to young to pay it off, but they do "work" it off :D Also, we added an unlimited text plan for $20 for the entire family so more high phone bills! DH now even texts the kids!
Blessings, Melissa

Baby Z's Mom said...

It is not only the teens that go over their minutes. It is 66 yr old mother in laws, who also claim they don't know how to check minutes used etc. We have my mother in law on our plan, she is on a fixed income and this way she can have phone service. We have Verizon, as most of the family does too, but she still used more minutes than me & husband combined!!! She paid for the overage and acted just like a sullen teenager, was mad at us for treating her like a child. Of course the answer is "you want to be treated as an adult, you need to act like one"

Anonymous said...

I love that my kids have cell phones!! I rest much easier knowing I can reach them. The phones that are cool - they had to buy with their own money (all free upgrades go to me thank you very much) In the beginning I provided them with "The Brick" as our family calls it - anytime one of them breaks a phone - out comes 'the brick' until they replace it with a cool one of their own purchase.

On another note texting is a great communication tool for teenagers. I will get more information from my kids while texting than talking. We have a few code phrases that mean - "pick me up" or " tell me no I can't". This allows them to get out of an uncomfortable position by making me the mean one - I'm OK with that!

I have yet to add that GPS device because they haven't given me reason not to trust them. But the minute I get a bad feeling - activate the GPS!!