38 answers

12 Yr Old and Cell Phone

I am a foster mother to a 12 yr old girl and she is having a fit to have a cell phone. She says all of her friends have cell phones and she wants one also. I wanted to get some advice on whether I should get her a cell phone and what type I should get. I currently have a Verizon cellphone and if I do decide to get her a cellphone I will be adding her to my plan. thanks

9 moms found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

I took the advice I got on here and got her a prepaid phone. I explained the rules and because she has dance and gymnastics it is a great way to keep in touch with her. so far she is doing well and I have not had to take it away. thanks for all of the advice

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Hi L.,
My son is also 12 and he has a cell phone on an as needed basis. We initially got kid connect through T-moble which gave him 100 minutes but he could call my phone and 911 whether he had minutes or not.
He gets his phone when I think he might need to call me to pick him up early, if he goes somewhere with a group (like school events) if he is at a friends house. He doesn't get to have it all the time to talk on and text with. It works out well, he gets a phone to call his own but he has limitations and he knows he either gets it on this basis or not at all. Actually it gives me peace of mind when he is not around to know he has a way of contacting me if needed. HOpe this helps.
J.

2 moms found this helpful

I agree. I have two teen aged sons. both have had cell phones since the age of about 12. it made it a lot easier on me as a parent to keep track of them. they know if they do not answer the phone when I call I take the phone away from them for however long I feel necessary. they learned the hard way that it was not a toy and that I expected them to use it appropriately.

1 mom found this helpful

Wow - a fit? And she's twelve? I'll tell you right now; any child living in a home with my name on the mortgage would have to have her attitude addressed before we'd even discuss such privileges.

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Hi, L. M--

Please take a look at the link below regarding cell phones. I forwarded it to friends and family earlier so this also includes a short note from the forwarded message.

http://renegadehealth.com/blog/do-cell-phones-emit-harmfu...

"The e-mail message below is about health, and I thought it is worth sharing with you. Click on "Do cell phones emit......" It will open up to a series of video clips. Somewhere past the middle is the one about the cell phone and EMF (electromagnetic field) waves. It is shocking to know how we are surrounded by gadgets around the house that emit EMF waves without our knowledge. Some experts are convinced that EMF waves cause brain tumors, leukemia, birth defects, miscarriages, chronic fatigue, headaches, cataracts, heart problems, stress. nausea, chest pain, forgetfulness, cancer and other health problems."

E. C

2 moms found this helpful

First of all, you have to determine if it's a "want" or a "need." I noticed that your daughter's reason was "all of her friends have one." That sounds like a want. If your daughter doesn't need a cell phone, then don't get her one. I didn't get my son a cell phone until he was 16 years old and driving. Then there was a definite need for safety reasons. If your daughter wants to just text her friends or talk to them on this cell phone, then explain to her that she can easily use the home phone, e-mail or face to face. Stick to your guns, mom, kids usually just want the latest gadget, and cell phones fit that bill.

2 moms found this helpful

As a teacher, I have to tell you what I overhear in the classroom when they think the teacher is not listening. They text each other into late hours at night because their parents don't know they are on the phone. Parents must not be checking their kids' phone logs. They are also sending nude photos of each other. Middle school kids don't understand that these pictures are forwarded to their friends!

There is no reason anyone needs text messaging unless they are unable to speak on a phone. Kids will say it's necessary but actually they want to "talk" when they should be doing something else or when the parents can't monitor them. And they certainly do not need the Internet or picture capabilities.

If your child insists she needs it to keep in touch with you, then get that basic phone that can only call your number.

Adding your child to Verizon is not as cheap as they make it sound. There are taxes and fees that add much more than they initially tell you.

It's okay to say "no" to your daughter.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi L.,
My son is also 12 and he has a cell phone on an as needed basis. We initially got kid connect through T-moble which gave him 100 minutes but he could call my phone and 911 whether he had minutes or not.
He gets his phone when I think he might need to call me to pick him up early, if he goes somewhere with a group (like school events) if he is at a friends house. He doesn't get to have it all the time to talk on and text with. It works out well, he gets a phone to call his own but he has limitations and he knows he either gets it on this basis or not at all. Actually it gives me peace of mind when he is not around to know he has a way of contacting me if needed. HOpe this helps.
J.

2 moms found this helpful

Oh, she is working you!

I'd have her do this:

Write down 5 good reasons why she needs one.

Write down 5 things she would do with it (the answers would not be necessarily the same as why she needs one.

Write down 5 people she'd call.

Write down 5 things she can do to earn it.

Write down 5 things she can do, ongoing, (a chore or help in some area) to keep the phone on.

And at 12 she doesn't get privacy yet. EVERYTHING on the phone is subject to your inspection, at any time. This latest thing about kids sending naked and/or suggestive pictures to each other is a huge concern, and at 12, she is not to young to be doing that. You need to know EVERYONE she is in contact with, whether they are in her contact list or not.

If she is willing to jump through these hoops (and continues to do so), she just may be responsible enough to have one. You may be able to limit her minutes through the company so it doesn't cost you more than you plan to spend.

By the way, do you remember using the "All my friends..." scheme? Did it work for you? LOL.

2 moms found this helpful

How about splitting the difference? Get her a phone...a PREPAID phone! If you go with Verizon (www.vzw.com/prepaid) then you'll both get unlimited mobile-to-mobile so calling you is free. But, she'll learn to better budget her time/money and not waste a bunch of time making silly calls to her friends. She may also grow a little more by getting firm with her friends to only call when they have something real to say and not just to talk about the color of some girl's nail polish.

You can also layout a few policies--you will buy her an $X card every 5th of the month. (Wal-Mart has a reloadable card that you can just use over and over) If she talks/texts up a storm and exceeds that allotment then the phone dies. If she wants to talk more, then she'll have to pony up her own money to buy a new card for more time until the next allotment. When I got my own beater car in high school I suddenly became popular but had to turn into the gas goon...no gas money, no ride!

2 moms found this helpful

I would give it a try. I have a 15-year old who has had a cell phone since sixth grade. There has only been one occurence in middle school when she forgot to put it on vibrate that is was taken away, and I was VERY eager to get it back because as parents we came to depend on it as much as she did. Now, it is our "consequence" of choice to take it away when she acts up, but sometimes it can punish us just as much as parents. Overall, I think it is a great tool to keep in touch with your kids. I would establish a trial period of a month to three months. Show your child the verizon website where you can track their usage and numbers they call. If they know you are watching and what your expectations are for their use they are more likely to stick to it. I also think my daughter was more responsible with her usage before she went to high school. You'll be happier with her level of responsibility now than you will be when she's in high school. Right now she wants to prove to you she can have one - after three years, she'll just expect it. Since we didn't wait to get her one I can't tell you if the same reaction when she is 15 will apply or not, but my experience with the cell phone and middle school was positive.

2 moms found this helpful

My 12 year old is also wanting a cell phone. Yes, it's the "in" thing. I spoke with Verizon last week, and they have something they call "Chaperone" where you can know where the child is besides who they call, etc. You should check into that. You can also give them a certain number of minutes per month, and that's all they get! My daughter has good grades, and for us it would only cost $10/mo. to add her to our plan, so I told her it would be okay as long as she saves up to buy the phone and pays the $10/mo plus any extra charges she runs up. (She babysits a lot.) Another issue that might need to be watched...I saw a special on TV about kids who text answers to tests during school.

2 moms found this helpful

if you need help getting her to listen and behave this will help,you can take it away and limit the use ect...,you will get opinions both ways and neither is right for every child but its nice to have in an emergency for her or as a reward for grades ect

1 mom found this helpful

The real question is do you think that she needs a cell phone? Is she involved in activities that you are dropping her off and returning to pick her up? If there are legitimate reasons for a cell phone and you feel that she is responsible enough to handle one then get her one. But if she is like my daughter and only wants one because "everyone" else has one, then forget it. What are you going to do when she wants a better cell phone or a to have her face pierced or a car because "everyone else has it"? We told our daughters that when we feel that they "need" a cell phone we will give them one. But when they do get one, they will have limited use of it until they is old enough to pay the bill. For now if they want to talk to their friends they need to use a land line.
I personally think it is rediculous that so many young kids have cell phones (and 12 is young). They hid in their rooms or in the corner texting their friends all-night. Do you know they are saying that todays kids are loosing the ability to interface with people because of cell phones and the intenet. That is a very sad thing that we are doing to our children.

1 mom found this helpful

You've gotten a lot of great advice - the best I think is not to be afraid to tell her no. So I won't duplicate what's already been said. The only additional advice I would say is to check with your foster child's case manager. If there is a concern that she will make contact with someone with whom she is not supposed to be speaking to unsupervised, the case manager may not want her to have a cell phone. Then they become the "bad guy," not you.

1 mom found this helpful

I have verizon too... There are phones that you can get with navigation that I suggest you get... I have a 9 year old daughter with a cell phone... YIKES- I know. But with her last school, I needed to. She is very responsible with it. If your foster child is wanting it for TXT- make sure to get unlimited TXT. I would make sure that she understands that there are limits and that she is not just wanting to run up the min. I have 5 lines + an internet card. My bill is about 250. Good luck- I like that my daughter has one, it gives me peace of mind, because I can call her at all times. She knows that she has to have it even if she is just out front with the neighbor kids. It is an investment is our sanity.

1 mom found this helpful

Just because she says "everybody" has one, doesnt mean everybody has one!
And just because she is having a fit to have a cell phone doesnt mean she should have one.
Make her show you some responsibility (ie, working for it, being responsible & trustworthy on various issues, etc. maybe earning the $ for it)

Have her write up a contract (that you can agree to and feel good about) specifying why she needs one, how/when/where she can use it, on what terms she can keep it and what would be grounds for suspension of cell phone privileges, etc.

Then and only then if YOU feel good about it, if you feel she "needs" and is ready for one, then go ahead and let her have one.

1 mom found this helpful

My older boys both have cell phones.
I pay for them both.

However, because my 17 year old will be taking over the bill when he turns 18 I bought him a Cricket phone. The reception is terrible and the customer service is awful but it is cheap for unlimted everything and he uses the phone mainly for texting and surfing the net anyway. I got him a phone that is also an MP3 player.

I put my 11 year old on my Altell plan but opted for the unlimited text package. I highly reccomend this as texting and web browsing are what teens use their phones for mostly nowadays.

A word of caution...make sure you look over her bill each month and take note of the time of day she is using the phone. I found text messages at 3am! Needless to say now the phones are charged in my room at night.

1 mom found this helpful

Wow, I'm shocked that none of the Mamas have even mentioned the health issues associated with cell phone use. Children should not be using them, period. It isn't "cool" to get brain tumors.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/mobile-phone-us...

http://www.powerwatch.org.uk/science/studies.asp

http://www.powerwatch.org.uk/action/reduce_phones.asp

For anyone who is googling this subject and coming up with studies that say there is no link, you need to find out who is funding those studies. Bingo -- it's the cell phone companies. It's a multi-billion dollar industry that wants us to keep on spending our money on their wonderful, but dangerous devices. Scary. The scariest thing is that there are ways to make this technology safer, but it is more expensive, so that is why it is not being done. Until people are fully aware of the problem and demand safety, nothing is going to be done about it. In the meantime, we need to protect our children.

A link I just got today:

http://www.safbaby.com/keep-cell-phones-away-from-your-ch...

1 mom found this helpful

Well, we all want things we can't have, and that may be the lesson for your 12 yo. I don't think getting her a phone is a good idea...as it's rewarding her with what she wants after a 'fit.' If she truly needed one for emergencies, or to keep in contact with you due to work/school schedules, than it would make more sense. But, to give her one solely because she claims her friends have one, or because she's fighting you about it, is crazy.

A phone is a huge responsibility - financially and socially. How are her grades, her behavior? There should be a "price" for the privilige. If you do decide to get one, you get it with parental controls to govern texting, calls, etc. Just some thoughts....

*I'm a little shocked by the number of people who suggest unlimited text - or state that there kids are texting 10K times per month!! Not only does that mean they are taking time away from studying, family, physical activity, and real human contact/communication, it also means that the parents can't possibly be monitoring the texting. My oldest kids have cell phones (for emergencies and to call me or their dad) but we monitor the bills, calls. Please be cautious and alert*

Best,
C.

1 mom found this helpful

Beware. My child has a phone and she turns it into me every night at 8. Here is what I experienced. Call phone service and block all charge text numbers, do not allow international locations, 3-way calling and watch her calls on-line with your provider. Don't think it won't happen--they are kids and don't know better. My 16 year old still doesn't make the best choices. Stress addiction and dangers with and without a phone. Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

My kids have had a cell phone since that age as well. It is the teen thing these days to have one. We also have verizon. I do suggest getting unlimted texts..you cannot keep incoming texts from coming in...and that is the new email for teens. Its worth it in the long run. I bet she wont even use any minutes on her phone. We have unlimited and our kids send/recieve over 10,000 texts a month. My kids know that they can easily loose their phones with poor grades and behavior...thankfully I dont have those issues. Verizon has some great deals and will work with you. Good Luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

Hey, L.....just read about your dilema and I've been there myself! It is so hard when they are getting to that teenage age, when my daughter was 14 I thought I was gonna go out of my mind! Talk about a difficult age, but then I read an article in a magazine that talked about teenagers and what to expect and I was so relieved that it wasn't just me going crazy! Hahaha...anyway, about the cell phone situation, my daughters, now 19 and 20, didn't get cell phones until they were 15 and 16. Like your daughter they were constantly on me about getting them cell phones since they were in 6th and 7th grade, but I stuck to my decision and haven't regretted it. It's my opinion that a 12 year old is still too young for a cell phone. My decision eventually worked out fine for me, good luck with whatever you decide.

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter is 12 and doesn't have a cell phone, and her friends don't either. She can call them on the phone at home or e-mail them. We feel that she doesn't need one unless she walks home alone from school or has after school activities (where there's no phone available)and needs to call you to pick her up. It hasn't been an issue in our house, the kids have mentioned it before, and we told them they don't need one at this point in their lives, and they're ok with it. Kids mainly use them for texting friends and downloading expensive ring tones. So, if you decide to get her one watch out for those.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L., I know that my advice won't be pc, but, our rule on cell phones has been, if you can pay for it (what it costs over and above our regular bill) then you can have it. In our home (kids 12,14,15,16) only the 16 year old has maintained a phone and kept up paying for it. The bill is paid up front, one month in advance. I would either suggest this or a "minutes" phone, where she pays to load it. This is teaching responsibility and consequences. We had a nephew with us for 7 years (from 9years up) and he had a really hard time with this. But, our society in general has a very hard time teaching kids to grow up and be adults when they leave home. If that's your goal, this will work well for you. Best of Luck. K.

1 mom found this helpful

Wow - a fit? And she's twelve? I'll tell you right now; any child living in a home with my name on the mortgage would have to have her attitude addressed before we'd even discuss such privileges.

1 mom found this helpful

She wants to fit in. =) Being the "foster" child is hard enough to deal wirh. Nowadays- kids having a phone helps my sanity. Calls during an emergency. I LOVE that I can just call when I want to know "whats going on" etc. I DO suggest a "talk" about the text obsession LOL and the choice for you to be able to look at all incoming/outgoing messages for parental monitoring etc etc. Explain the rules allowed and call plan & not to be used in class (some not permitted). HTH =D

1 mom found this helpful

I agree. I have two teen aged sons. both have had cell phones since the age of about 12. it made it a lot easier on me as a parent to keep track of them. they know if they do not answer the phone when I call I take the phone away from them for however long I feel necessary. they learned the hard way that it was not a toy and that I expected them to use it appropriately.

1 mom found this helpful

The only people in our house who have cell phones are the ones who can pay for it themselves. I don't believe that it's necessary for a child to have a phone for their well-being and happiness.

1 mom found this helpful

She's right, everyone has one but if everyone had warts would she have to have them too? seriously though, it may be a good idea, teaches responsibility and it is easier to track her down. but i would suggest what we did for our son when he fisrt got one. we got him a TRAC phone at target. and a $50 dollar card the first time. after those minutes were gone he had to buy his own minutes out of his allowance. it taught him to save and not go crazy with his texting. also if you add her to your plan and she screws up you will get stuck with it. a cell phone can be a great motivator. for doing extra chores and for punishment but it needs to be something that she works for and appreciates not something that is expected because everyone has one.

1 mom found this helpful

I personnally think it is a personal choice.. When my oldest turned 12 (14 now) yes we got her a cell phone but only because she was staying after school for sports but her phone was locked except to call emergency #'s Dad, Me Grandma's etc no friends it wasn't used for chatting it up with her friends. As she gained years certain things were added for.. Now my 11 year old knows she will only get one when she turns 12 with the stipulations.. As far as getting it for your child just because all her friends have one Personally I feel that you are telling your children that it is ok to give in to peer pressure.. Like I said it all depends on personal feeling.. Good Luck..

1 mom found this helpful

I personaly think it a good idea my 12 year old has had one sense she turned 9. I love the fact that I can reach her ANY time I want or need where ever she is.. I have T mobie we have 4 phones and my bill is less then $250 a month and that is 1500 min and unlimited txt ( a must ).. If you are worried set some groung rules, I think it helps them with learning to be responsable....

1 mom found this helpful

My friend got a cell phone for her daughter because she needed to be able to have contact with her. She did use it to talk to firnds, butit was okay as long as they were on the list. Well, she made a new friend who wasn't on the list and ran up the phone bill to around $500. My friend was really mad and took the phone away from her daughter and grounded her for a couple of months. She does get the phone for safety reasons still, but cannot use it to talk to friends.

If she needs it for safety that's one thing, but to just chat with friends, that isn't a good reason, in my opinion. If you do get it for her, I think there will need to be rules so the phone bill doesn't get out of control. That's one of the scary parts of kids having cell phones. I know I couldn't pay a $500 phone bill.

Good luck figuring this out. Kids can be persistent with things they want. I know.

I haven't read all the responses, but I don't understand why kids today feel they are entitled to cell phones. Everyone single one of us who grew up without cell phones lived. It is crazy.

Whatever you decide - make sure it has unlimited text. It seems they are unable to do anything but text. Otherwise you will fight about overage bills

I think you should get her one. I got my daughter a cell phone when she was 11. My daughter likes to play outside and ride her bike and sometimes she goes a far ways away with her friends. There were one or two times when she forgot to check in because none of her friends that she was with ( the neighborhood kids are at least three years younger than her ) had phones. So i got her a phone and now i don't have to ground her for not checking in. I can keep a track of her through the phone. I suggest getting her a real phone, not a track phone. If she is somewhere where she can't be loud, you could text her. Even though it costs a lot of money, it will probably be better in the long run. Sure, its not a need, but you can keep her happy and safe.

12 was the age in our house for cell phones - as long as grades were up and there were no behavior issues.

A word of caution - my daughter was excellent for 3 years, then out of the blue I got a $700 bill from AT&T!! Turns out her friend moved out of state. She promised to get it back in control, but the bill was even higher the next month. Obviously we shut it off, but it did cost us a small fortune at the time. She paid us back (she was asst mgr at Subway at the time) and nothing like that ever happened again, she's 21 now. I only use Cricket for my 15 & 17 year olds. And my 17 year old will be taking over his plan next month when he turn 18.

I also started with very plain phones and let them prove they could be responsible with the phones before dishing out the money for the models with all the bells & whistles.

I know not all parents agree with giving cell phones to preteens, but I appreciated the convenience of always being able to get ahold of my kids, and them always being able to call me easily.

If you are adding her to your existing plan, it should only be something like $10 a month, but be aware, because sometimes, they will have you sign a new 2-year contract. Or sometimes they set it up to where your contract stays the same, but hers is a new 2-year, so it is only $10 for as long as your contract, then it jumps up when yours expires. Most new plans come with a basic phone for free, or you can upgrade to a nicer one for a minimal charge. But I would just keep the basic one, and tell her that if she wants a better phone, or texting capabilities, then she needs to earn them. Study for tests in school, keep up on her homework, help around the house. Small chores can earn her extra minutes or extra text messages. Like if she takes out the trash, she earns 5 more minutes talk-time. Or if she gets a good grade on a test, she can have 10 more texts. Then at the end of school, when summer comes, she can get a better phone if she has mostly A's and B's. Those kinds of things are for you to decide, but they are just examples of ways that she can learn to budget her minutes or texts based on her responsibilities. You could even make a chart for her on a calendar that says how many texts or minutes she can talk each day, and if she doesn't use them, she can "roll them over" until she reaches her weekly/monthly limit.

Good luck with her, and I hope that it works out to be a good thing, instead of a headache to try to keep track of.

Real simple - get a plan with unlimited text messages. Otherwise you will have a huge bill for texts.

For anyone who still might have the mistaken fear that cellphone use is linked with brain tumors, Google "cellphones and brain tumors (or cancer)", read, think. Even IF your phone is one of the older analog phones (which were phased out in 2006), and even IF it were ionizing (which, unlike microwaves, they aren't), and even IF you kept it plastered to your head all day (most teens these days txt, and the only danger in that is financial, LOL!), they STILL haven't proven the link.
Txting is great but you need to either limit it, make sure your teen will pay for the overages (which add up rapidly), or get unlimited txting.
Best of luck.

I would only get a cell phone for a 12 year old if she was willing to follow some strict rules about its use. There is more and more information (even in the pro "buy stuff" Consumer Reports) about the dangers of radiation from cell phone use. The connection with brain tumors is real.
I for one do not use one. See the warnings from the Vienna Medical association. Europe seems to take a lot of health matters more seriously. Health over profits.

I have a 12 year old son and I tell him NO - he doesn't need a phone of his own. He doesn't need the distraction and I don't need the expense. The land line at home is adequate should someone need to phone him or vice versa and if we need to get a hold of him while he is somewhere else we have him take one of our (my or his dad) phones. However, we also use Verizon and, living in a rural area, have always had trouble getting calls from each others phones - more often missing calls while the phone sits in a pocket having never even rung on the other end and then suddenly gets a missed call or message tone. Usually we just make prior arrangements and meet him where designated - if the situation arises where we need to go looking for him a discussion is had as to how to better coordinate in the future. Fostering makes your decisions even harder as you are doing your best to get along, be supportive and make the child happy, but be firm about this as most activity on it would be much too unsupervised for comfort and could easily get out of hand - give her permission to use the phone at home as necessary or desired (within reason) and she will have no argument that she is isolated or not able to have friends. If you must compromise and get her a phone make sure she can only call you (or a very limited few numbers) with it so she sees it as a tool to communicate with you but not a toy to play with friends. And I advise no camera phones or PIX messaging for kids. Texts are distraction enough. Text messaging is too easy for teenagers to get carried away with and then they aren't paying attention to more important things - like homework. Good luck.

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