D.B. asks from San Jose, CA on January 12, 2009
Too Early for Cell Phone?
My oldest son is about to turn 12. I've always thought it was ridiculous that kids younger than him already have cell phones, yet it seems everyone has them. He's been begging me for a phone for a couple of years now. Though I think he's too young, I've recently been saying to myself that I wished he'd had a phone on several occasions. Is life in our society really that different that kids need a phone at age 12 now? I'm worried when he isn't home from school in time, when he's at a friend's or at the park playing ball. Also, I'm a single parent, so at times he has to come home alone, or he's at basketball practice and I want him to call when he is ready to come home. Should I have him ask to use the phone at school and friend's houses to check in, or should I get him his own phone?
So What Happened?™
Thank you everyone for your advice. It seems we really are living in a different age than when I was growing up. After doing some research, I did find that there are a few phones out there with only certain numbers that can be called. I've decided to try one of these phones and see if he is responsible enough for it. From some of the reviews I've read, it sounds like 12 year-olds are too old for this type phone (makes them look un-cool to their friends) yet I will give him a year to prove he can be responsible with it. If so, I'll pass it on to his younger (but more responsible) brother and look into something more fit for a teen, but with plenty of parental controls still. I really appreciate all the comments and advice.
L.T. answers from San Francisco on January 12, 2009
I am sure everyone is going to have their own opinions and rightfully so. So here is mine. I have two teenagers 17 and 15 (step sons) that practically live on their phones. My 6 years old has a phone with 4 buttons, mom, dad, brother & grandma and a panic 911. Grandma's idea originally. She is the first and only grandchild on my side. I love it though! I can call her when she is in her room for dinner, so she can feel important that mommy is calling her and she pretends she is grown up like brothers. We talk at night just to say I love you and good night. When she goes across the street to her friends house she can call me to cross the street with her, neighbor kid was hit by a car so yes I am a little nervous and I was run over and the driver tried to leave in broad daylight. So back to my point... I understand the risks of numerous phone calls and costly bills however, I look at it this way I would rather hear that sweet voice on the other end needing me and asking 500 questions than not to ever hear it again! If something, god forbid, ever happened you would not want to blame yourself because you didn't get that darn phone. Both my step sons were about 12 when they got theirs. Adding a line is only $9.99 a month with most carriers. I don't want to influence you either way but i love it and she really doesn't use it much after the "coolness" of having the phone wore off.
Hope this helps and god bless.
E.V. answers from San Francisco on January 12, 2009
i don't have to deal with this issue yet but i have thought about it. i struggle with the thought too. i know times are different but i still think about when we were kids. we used pay phones (which hardly exist anymore) or used a phone in the school office or at a friends house. if i was late or needed i ride, i figured it out...found a phone. weird how we are so dependent on cell phones now. everyone needs to be able to contace anyone at anytime. i feel this has contributed a lot to our fast paced society and need for constant entertainment etc. all connected, all a cycle. sorry, had to vent. good luck, do what makes you and your son feel safe. :)
R.V. answers from San Francisco on January 13, 2009
I too feel that young kids don't need cell phones. But every situation is different. I have found that loaning my phone to my 11 year old daughter as needed ,like for soccer practice ,is working for us. To many kids have them just because and use them for chit chat. You seem to have some valid reasons for wanting one and I like the idea of having one that only calls your mom , dad or such. If loaning yours on occasion dosn't seem to be an opption then you might consider it. But also I think you need to not worry so much. If your son is doing to many things that cause you worry maybe he shouldn't be doing some of those things. You need to feel more secure with the freedoms your allowing him or change it. Best wishes
R.S. answers from Redding on January 12, 2009
The only thing I would look into is the cancer risk. In 2008 several new studies came out. For example:
It seems we should all be using ear buds.
P.W. answers from San Francisco on January 14, 2009
I thought the same as you did, but then I discovered how much easier it is when they have cell phones. I think 12 is about the right age to start -- they start getting their independence, and you will want to be able to keep tabs on them.
Go for it.
J.B. answers from San Francisco on January 12, 2009
I don't know if they still have these phones, but when my niece was 11 my sister got her a cell phone. The only numbers you could call out were your mom or your dad. You program the numbers in the phone. It doesn't even have numbers on it to dial, just a spot for mom or dad-or any numbers you program into those spots. You can call him.
My niece is now 12 and she has a phone. I know she has restrictions on it, but it has been nice for my sister. Like if she ever needs to be picked up early from a practice-or her friend is not around to walk with her home from school. She has full right also to look at my nieces cell phone at text messages and things. It can be a positive thing-you would just have to set rules with it.
A.H. answers from San Francisco on January 12, 2009
I too will have to cross this bridge some day - because we are a no landline family. It's true that pay phones are becoming non-existent and even when I was a kid school secretaries acted suspicious and rude when you asked to use the office phone.
The last time I was working most of my office mates' children had cellphones and there were two things that struck me about it - 1.)That many of the Moms got calls all day long being asked to solve simple problems or settle a dispute with a teacher etc. I will definitely have a solve your own problems rule when my son gets a cellphone. 2.) Kids who don't have one wind up using everybody else's. If his need to call you is extremely rare then no problem but if you want him to check in a lot consider the possible financial impact on others.