13 YO Took His Phone Swimming, What Now?

Updated on June 20, 2009
A.C. asks from Colorado Springs, CO
38 answers

We have a cell phone for our 13 YO son. He likes to go further than we can yell & is most often on a bike or skateboard & not AT anyone's house so he's not easy to get ahold of (which is why he's got the cell).
Yesterday, he went swimming & forgot to take his phone out of his pocket. We didn't get insurance on the phone because it was free w/Dad & Mom phones. Hindsight, right? I'm pretty sure it's toast. We couldn't get it apart right away to dry it & between the standing water & the chlorine I'm sure it's not going to be good for much. We just signed a contract 3 mos ago so they're not going to do squat for us (Verizon) because we were brand new customers. Do we replace the phone, do we make him stay closer since he was the one who ruined it, do we make him figure out how to replace the phone.... what do we do next? We don't have a home phone so if Dad & I are both out we need for the boys to have a phone for emergencies, but do we let him have it or have him carry a walkie talkie like some of the neighbor kids do? (They're 5th graders & he's an 8th grader)
I realize that not all parents let their kids have phones, please don't respond if you're going to bash our decision.
Thanks in advance for any advice you've got! We're new to the teenage parenting (he just moved in w/us from his mom's house a few mos ago)

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So What Happened?

Thanks ladies! I pulled it apart as much as I could & dried it w/the blow dryer. It works as long as it's plugged in but it's not working right by any means. I'll take it back & try the rice thing for a few days-along w/the closer boundaries. He's used to that-he "accidentally" forgot to put his phone in his backpack at school twice & lost the phone & distance privilages for a weekend & then a week.
I'm sure he's not as "cool" as many of his friends-he has no internet plan, he's got to ask to make calls-and to talk to friends who call him, though he does have unlimited text to communicate with his friends. He can't just go hang out like we did in the olden days-all of post goes to one middle school & his friends are spread over a 15 min drive area. Since we don't have a home phone, he can't hang out on it til the phone dies, then go pick up another one. Not that I ever did that as a teenager :) He used $2 of internet time on this last billing cycle-first one's a freebie, next time he pays it off himself.
To the 32 year old (forgot your name)-I too had a pager, so my friends & mom could reach me. It wasn't to be cool though, I was the only one of my friends who had one. I was also 18 & bought it myself, then paid for the service. We don't have home phone service & therefore the teenager needs a phone because we live on post & his cell is an additional $10 on our contract each month. Home phone service (on post you get ONE option-whoever the post is contracted with) is $50/month & since we wouldn't receive more than 5-10 calls on it a month, it's not worth the out-of-pocket money. He had a bully (girl he didn't want to date's brother) dogging his every footstep for a good month & the one time he was with his little brothers & this boy started crap, Dad was there in a heartbeat "just to get the little ones". (Kid weenied out, thankfully, & leaves him alone now)

I don't want to do a pay-as-you-go plan since we're already paying for him on our contract but I like the idea of the cheepie phone-no camera, no fancy ringtones-if this one is a goner. I'll have to go to Verizon if this one doesn't straighten up in the next week or so.

Thanks again!

Featured Answers

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S.L.

answers from Pocatello on

White rice really works for drying out a phone that has gotten wet. If my son ruined his phone, I would have him earn the money to buy a new one, that way he would be more careful with the next one.
Stephanie L

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R.K.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I'd take into account this child's disposition and attitude. I'd also look at the circumstances: was he vying for a new phone or does he often loose/break things? If this is the case, I'd tend to be on the "sucks-to-be-you" bandwagon.

If this is a one-time thing and he's a generally responsible and compliant young man, I'd try finding another phone. You can try going down to Walmart to get a cheap "go phone" type phone after trying the other suggestions given for drying it out.

My daughter lost her new phone in the river the VERY SAME DAY she got it. Poor thing! Oh well...now she has a cheap, not cute old Go-phone.

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J.C.

answers from Casper on

IF you want the phone to work again....just put it in some white rice. Not the seasoned kind...just plain white rice. Leae it for a few days...maybe a week and it should be ok. My sister is very bad with spilling things on her phone and it's always worked with hers.

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K.P.

answers from Boise on

Maybe I'm old fashioned at just 32, but I still don't understand the whole give your teenagers a cell phone thing. When I was a teenager, EVERYBODY had pagers. I wanted one, and gave the same excuse that, "now you can reach me easier and any time you want to." I was lying; I just wanted to be cool like my friends. My parents didn't go for it, and I had to adjust to them and follow their rules. Today, parents are adjusting to the kids! Not to knock you, but I also don't understand not having a land line at home. The other day a neighbor girl was home alone, and worried because her dad was gone too long. She had to come to my house to use my phone to call her dad. What if I weren't home for her to do that? That poor scared girl would have been going door to door in the neighborhood just to use a phone to reach her dad. Another thing I thought about was, what if there were an emergency, like her little brother hitting his head and knocking himself out cold(it could happen). She couldn't call 911 from her house. She would have to start knocking on doors while her brother loses precious time. Just a thought. Ok, back to the cell phone thing. I say be a parent, and don't rely on cell phones to know where your kids are. Set new rules and make your kid follow them. For example, He is to tell you where he is going, then you follow up and make sure that's where he is. If he wants to go somewhere else from there, he can use one of the other kids phones to let you know where he wants to go. If you approve, he can go. If not, he is to come home or you will go pick him up. Simple as that. Again, not to knock you, but cell phones have made parents lazy in doing their jobs as parents. So, in my opinion, which I'm sure will be the minority, don't replace the cell phone! Step up your performance on your job as the parent.

Ok, since I was called out on my home phone comment...I'll say this...The idea that cell phones are cheaper than home phones doesn't fly with me. I pay $24.99 for unlimited long distance and local calls on my HOME phone. I don't think there is a cell phone plan cheaper than that.

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H.R.

answers from Colorado Springs on

I have one word to say...Concequences. Just because he is 13 and it was an accident doesnt mean that he should not have concequences. If it were me and my kid, this is what I would do. I would tell him that he needs to stay closer to home until he finds a way to replace the phone. I would be telling him he should start his own lawn mowing business to earn the money. Until he has the $$ to buy himself a new one, he has to stay within ear shot of your house. I suspect that he will say that is unfair, but (and ok, I am going to get on my soap box here so ignore this if you want to) I think that as a country we have been doing our kids a disservice by giving them everything they want without having to work for it, so we have raised a whole generation of people who think they are entitled to what ever it is they want. (Ok off now) I think that if he has to be tethered to the house he will find a way to earn what he needs to have more freedom. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful
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T.K.

answers from Fort Collins on

When my phone got wet, T-mobile workers told me to put it in the ferezer for 2 days, then let it dry on the counter for 5 days. After a week of waiting, the phone worked fine. And I agree with your son to have a phone. My 12-yr old daughter has one for the very same reason.

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J.O.

answers from Boise on

I am not sure about verizon but I know with at&t you can buy a cheapy go phone (pay as you go) and trade out the sim card. I have done this for my children. But I agree he should work for it, maybe next time he will remember to be more carefull :).

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J.S.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Wait a few weeks until it is totally dry and then try to turn it on. I've known a few people to jump in the pool and still have their phones work. It can go either way. The key is to not turn it on until it is dry.

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C.J.

answers from Provo on

Hi A. My sons cell phone went through the washer. We were talking with verizon and they asked why we had the line and we were not using it. They recommended that we go into the Verizon store and see if they had any used phones they could work out a good deal for us. We did and we ended up getting a free used phone for him. Give it a try.

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C.J.

answers from Colorado Springs on

Hi A.,

Boy, that stinks! Those phones can be pricey. Someone suggested freecycle, I belong to the group here in the springs and they don't have restrictions on certain days you can post asking for something (at least they haven't to this point), so you wouldn't have to worry about that. I have seen plenty of people post looking for phones, so good luck!
I do agree with the folks that said he should have to pay for a new phone himself, even though it clearly was an accident that the phone took a swim. It will just be a good learning experience for him that things don't come free! :) Even if you are able to get one from freecycle, I would still probably try to come up with some kind of "payment" schedule for the ruined one (yeah, even with that one technically being free also) - just so he maybe learns from the experience. Extra chores for a certain number of weeks, maybe? Good luck finding a new phone that doesn't break the bank! cj

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A.

answers from Salt Lake City on

It sounds like he 'needs' a phone. I would work with him to pay for it, and get the insurance this time. Having him earn the cost of it would probably help with taking responsibility, not a bad thing for him to learn.

The fun is just beginning. Good luck.

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A.S.

answers from Pocatello on

I agree with the others if you make him work to pay for a new phone he might take better care of it. I think that it is important for him to have it and I know how crazy I get when I don't have mine so lending him your doesn't really work so well. Just have him ask around the neighborhood for odd jobs and such to raise the money for it, and get the cheapest one possible, which I know is ridiculous when not signing a new contract. But I also just had a thought. There is a web site called Freecycle.org that you can sign up to be a member on it allows you to give things away for free and ask for things for free(note some places there are only certain days you can ask for things so make sure you check that) but you could ask on there is anyone has an old working verizon phone that they don't use any more and then it woun't cost you anything, just make sure it is a verizon phone. Or you could look on craigslist and post as ad on there that you are looking for a working verizon phone. Just a thought hope it helps cause I know they charge a ton for a new one! Good luck!

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J.P.

answers from Salt Lake City on

make sure it's really toast before you do anything...i've had phones my little one flushed down the toilet...it was in there for a while before i got it back! take it apart, let it dry for about a week, maybe even try a low-heat blow dryer. i've learned in my cell phone experiences that water is usually fine, but baby slobber and lysol are bad!

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A.B.

answers from Colorado Springs on

I don't have a teen yet, but I understand the safety issue of needing to be in touch. However, I think that your son still needs to learn the consequences of his actions. Maybe he can "pay" for a new phone with extra chores around the house? I've also seen ads for phones that only have 2 or 3 numbers that can be dialed out or in - such as this one:http://www.gizmag.com/go/5463/ or these: http://guardianangeltech.com/

What's nice about these options versus a standard phone is that many have gps functions that work EVEN WHEN THE PHONE IS OFF! While they are geared toward younger kids, I still think they are invaluable. I grew up in northern MN where the winter storms can get pretty nasty so when I was a driving teen, my parents made me bring their cell phone with if I was going to out at night - you know, those gigantic first generation phones - and it hardly ever had service! If something would have happened the phone probably wouldn't have helped at all anyway. At least with these new phones you can keep track of your child even if it is off or in an area that would be out of service for other carriers.

My son is just a toddler, but my husband and I have already discussed getting something like these phones when he goes to elementary school.

Good luck!

~Amber

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K.B.

answers from Denver on

Having a 12 year old and a 14 year old right now I can tell you that this will not be the first time that something happens to his phone. Our kids have already gone through several phones each and talking to other parents this is normal for teens! What we did-like others have said, your phone service company usually has older phones that they will just give you. The kids put up a big fuss b/c it is so old and outdated (LOL). They then have to work and earn money in order to buy a new/nicer phone if they desire. It is amazing all the work they will do so that they can have the "cooler" phone. You can also look on Craigslist or go to used phone stores such as the one in Castle Rock but personally I have not had luck doing it this way. Good luck. And I agree, in this day and age I feel much safer being able to get a hold of my teen when he is with friends..it is a peace of mind for me. I would not be too hard on him for this and be prepared, this may not be the last time the phone gets ruined!!

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S.S.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I would try the rice thing my sister washed hers with laundry soap and bleach and that worked although it does take a couple of days. and in the meantime let him start earning just in case.if he doesn't need to buy the phone he can pay for the insurance

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J.F.

answers from Billings on

I don't want to bash your decision for letting your 13 year old have a phone:) It can be a very useful tool. The only thing I would suggest to you in this instance is that you make him pay for the replacement, either by himself, or you pay for it so he has it right away, but he pays you back (and DO NOT let him get out of it). Either require that he pay out of his allowance or that he take odd jobs around the house, or even around the neighborhood. There are plenty of people (esp. in military housing if that's where you live) that need their lawn to be mowed, or a babysitter for their kids, or even to have their dogs walked. Careless accidents happen to us all, so it's important to teach him that it's okay, BUT he does need to be responsible for the situation, accident or not. By making him pay for the phone, he'll have more respect for the money that you spend on him, it will teach him the value of his own money, AND it should teach him to be more careful with things.

Best of luck!

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T.W.

answers from Denver on

Everyone makes mistakes so don't beat him up too much. I dropped my phone in the toilet with toilet bowl cleaner in it and it worked once it dried out. I just took it apart, set it on a towel for 24 hours and voila. However, if that doesn't work, Verizon will do a replacement phone for $50 I think. You may find if you are real nice and explain the problem to a sales person you might just get a new one for nothing. I think kids do need a phone at that age so maybe he can come with you to handle the situation together. You can also recommend that he mow lawns, babysits or does extra chores to earn the money to pay you back.

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K.D.

answers from Denver on

I agree with Anne. He needs the phone and he ruined it. Make him pay for it. As a side note, my mom washed a phone that went back to working normally after about a week. Kids will think twice when they know they are responsible. If you let him slide on this, he'll push you on other things. It doesn't have to be a mean thing, just a learning thing. GL!

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A.J.

answers from Pocatello on

Well first don't try to turn it on. Take it apart and leave it for a week or more. If you can put it in a zip lock bag full of white rice(it absorbs the water out of it). If it still won't work, and don't lose hope. I once put a palm pilot through the washer(wash and rinse cycle and it still worked after a week). I would replace the phone, but instead of getting a brand new one look on ebay. I have bought a couple of phones there(my husband is really hard on them). Maybe make the kid do chores to work off the price so that he realized he has to be more careful with it.

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J.P.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I am a parent who works odd hours. I want to know where my son is all the time and him to check in with me whenever possible. Its a control thing. I want to control! He can lose the priveledge for a few hours or whatever, but when he disappears for a few hours, I know I can get in touch with him no matter what. I believe your son needs a phone, but make him help pay for it. My son also went snorkeling in Hawaii with his phone in his pocket after only having it for 4 months.

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T.S.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Put it in some uncooked rice with a lid on it. I heard it will dry out the phone, I also heard that you can put it in a ziploc bag and squeeze the air out it. Good Luck.

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L.D.

answers from Dallas on

If you decide to replace it, I was once able to buy a used phone from one of those Verizon retailers (not the actual Verizon store - Zoom or something?). It was a few years ago, but it cost about $70. (Lesson learned - take the phone out of your back pocket before using the bathroom!) The regular Verizon people told me that they don't do that, and they wouldn't support it when I had problems with the battery, but by then we were close to a new contract. As for the parenting side of it - I think I understand why you would want a kid that age to carry a phone, and I think he should pay for it, or at least part of it! (When my parents bought me an oboe, they made me put all my savings into it, which was about 1/3 of the cost. If I stopped playing for a year, they got to sell it and I lost my investment. Not sure how that translates to a phone, but similar idea.) Good luck and thank you for your Army wife service!

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D.S.

answers from Denver on

You can get any verizon phone to replace it with. I actually have a few since we aren't with Verizon any longer you can have or once I put a posted on free site and got one. Then, you just call Verizon to activate it.

I would make him sweat it for a week and stay close or maybe work off the phone with yard work. But, he won't like the used phone as well because it not the latest and cool, so that's some punishment.

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A.K.

answers from Pocatello on

If you still have the phone and it is still not working you can try this little trick. Take the battery out and place the phone and battery in a bowl of uncooked rice make sure it is covered up with rice. The rice will absorb the water and it might work again. It worked for me when I dropped my phone in the tub while bathing my daughter. Leave it in the rice for 3 or 4 days. Hopefully this advice doesn't get to you too late.

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M.R.

answers from Denver on

If you decide to get him another...i'd buy one on Ebay, MUCH cheaper than your carrier.

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J.N.

answers from Billings on

I had never heard of the rice trick, but next time I'll try that as well.

I just recently gave my cell phone a bath (darn vibtation with the ring tone!) and since I couldn't afford to replace it I gave it the heating pad treatment for a day. It worked after that, it did take a little longer for it to work completly right, but now it does work just fine.

Before that, I had lost it and couldn't find it for like 3 weeks. Finally my DH found it when the snow melted. It had been under there for 3 weeks! I have a tough little phone!

Good luck!!

J.

PS: I think you can get one of those pay as you go phones from walmart (the verizon ones) and switch it to your current account. Don't hold me to it, but I think you can.

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S.L.

answers from Salt Lake City on

You can look on ebay or Craig's list. Sometimes you can find a used phone for cheaper.

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C.C.

answers from Salt Lake City on

don't know if anyone has said this but you can get a track phone from verizon at walmart or other stores that sell them and put his SIM card in it. he can replace the phone but it won't brake his bank you can usually find them from $20-$40 then he can get an upgrade when his contract is up.
we've done this with our teenagers and it has worked out really well. they could do that or if we had an old phone still around they could use the older phone. they are never happy about it but I'll tell you so far they've each only lost 1 phone! lol.

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D.C.

answers from Boise on

First off hang in there, teenagers are all a chalenge. What I would do is replace the phone, but make him work off the price. I am sure there is lawn to be mowed, trash to be taken out, maybe even weeds to be pulled. Accidents happen, I am sure he just made one. Your best bet is to use this as a teaching moment. He can learn responsibility alot better if you let him still have it but make him work for it.

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J.N.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Not sure if all phones work this way, we have t-mobile and we've been able to get a used phone and put our chip in it to still work. There might be a way to get a used or cheap phone for him to use. Don't worry about if it's not cool. He made a mistake, he can live with the consequences (you're not punishing him, it was an honest error, kids dont think sometimes. But it is a natural consequence to drowning his phone). If you do have to spring for a new phone, make him pay for at least part of it. He can mow lawns this summer or pay part of his allowance or something like that. Again, it's natural consequences.

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M.O.

answers from Denver on

My 12 YO son took his phone to the pool and had it stolen. It is close to the same thing as we also have Verizon and didn't have insurance. We replaced the phone with insurance. (Hindsite is 20/20). I know it is not easy with teenagers as I also have a 14 YO son and my step-daughter who is now 25 lived with us when she was in high school. OMG to say the least. Let him know that it is a privelage to have a phone and not something he is just getting to have it. We replaced the phone with the cheapest one not the one he wanted same with my 14 YO. They also have chores, grades and other responsibilities that they must do to keep their phones. If these are not done NO PHONE. Teenagers need to know that if you say something you mean it. Don't ground them or take something away and then not follow through. I love my sons and my step-daughter has 2 babies of her own and 3 step-kids so we will see if it is true what they say about karma. =) Good luck. Remember they are only teenagers for 6 years, Yikes! Hope this helps.

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C.Y.

answers from Denver on

Honestly, I would make him replace the phone. Take the money out of his allowance or make him work it off or something. He should have to learn responsibility out of this incident. If he doesn't, you might end up forking out a lot of money on cell phones.... also, the younger ones will learn from watching what you do here.

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J.T.

answers from Pueblo on

I would think you are right, the phone is toast. You could call Verizon and talk to a customer rep, they might be able to do something. Or you could try getting prepaid phones. Usually you could pick one up fairly cheap and you just buy the minutes.
I think the cell phone is a great idea, now a days teens are extremely busy and active, most cell phones also come with GPS capability so you can know where he is if you cant reach him. Cudos for you

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C.L.

answers from Fort Collins on

I'm a middle school teacher, and it is amazing what kids do to phones. There is a chance if you take it apart and dry it completely that it might still work. If it doesn't here is what I would recommend:
1) Ask friends and family if they have an old phone sitting in a drawer somewhere. You might be surprised to find someone has a perfectly good one just lying around.
2) You could also see if one of your friends or family is considering getting a new phone, and offer to pay part of their cost in order to get their old phone. This would still be cheeper than popping for a new one.
3) Get him the base model phone. They actually are not that expensive, starting around $40. Well worth it for the peace of mind.
4) If he gets an allowance, have him help pay for the replacement cost of the phone. Put him on a payment plan (like $5 a week for six months.) Seeing the reduction in his allowance will help remind him to be more careful in the future.

In the end, the best advice is to not get too expensive a phone for a tween. Honestly, they are just really hard on them, so they get ran over by bikes, taken in pools, dropped from climbing structures, crushed during football....

Good luck!

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M.H.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Personally I would have him pay for the replacement (maybe some extra chores around the house or yard?) and get him a replacement from Ebay. You can get almost new phones in great condition for a fraction of the price, but you can still have your son work it off so that he knows that he needs to be more mindful of it and take care of it. Just make sure that it's a trusted seller if you can first, because there's always the potential that they can send you something broken, but for the most part you can get phones in better condition than the refurbished ones that Verizon will offer and it will be a LOT cheaper. I think that will help teach a lesson while providing the phone to them for emergency purposes like you wanted. Good luck!

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J.L.

answers from Denver on

My husband dove into the pool with his phone in his pocket. He just took the battery out and let it dry for a couple of days and it started working again. He could never turn it off after that or he would have to take the battery out and put it back in again. I think it be worth a try before you purchase a new phone.
Also, my daughter went canoeing a few weeks ago and the canoe tipped and she went in the river with her cell phone in her pocket. It ruined it. She found a used one for sale on Craig's list. Also worth a try.

A.W.

answers from Denver on

At King Soopers, or probably any grocery store, there are these pre-paid phones.
The phone itself costs like $35 and then you can buy minutes for it in $5, $10, $20, $50.
I would do something like get one of those and as he does his chores, stays on his best behavior, whatever, he can earn minutes.
And then let him know he only has that many minutes on his phone, I think it's 10 cents a minute on those cards.
Or just buy him the smallest amount of time and make sure he only is using it for emergencies.
That way you don't have to get into another contract, you don't have to pay for it unless he is using it, and if he looses or breaks it, its $35 and a phone card, rather than a 3 month contract.
Just my advice :)
Good luck!

P.S.
Kate, if that same little girl had a had a cell phone with her dads programmed number in it, she could have called her dad and you would never had known about it.
If her brother had hit his head and she had a cell phone, she could have called 911.
Land lines are expensive, compared to cell phones. Now that I have bought my phone I spend $20 a month to use my phone, and I can text which costs 10 cents and get the message across.
Nothing wrong with convenience and saving money, and having a way to get a hold of your kids anytime anywhere.

You can even put a program on the phones so that you can see on a map on your computer where the phone is, so you know where they are with out calling them.

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