Kids & Cell Phones - What Do You Think?

Updated on June 13, 2012
L.M. asks from Chicago, IL
15 answers

My husband and I had a spirited discussion about whether or not kids should have cell phones - and by kids I mean, maybe, Jr high and beginning driving age - when they are starting to spend more time away from you and away from home with their own after school activities or spending time with friends.

We talked about the social aspect of having a phone - and, like it or not, we both agree that there is a huge social component to it - if you can't text you will probably be left out of a lot of social interaction and plans. The truth of the matter is that it's just not like when we were kids and you were fortunate to have a cordless phone in the house!

We talked about safety and this is where it got spirited. I think it's important for kids to have a cell phone to call incase of emergency or if they find themselves in a situation they are not comfortable in and want to leave, but can't of their own accord. Or just for us to check up on them - whenever we like :) I could recall several studid decisions I made where a cell phone would have been awesome and lowered my risk of getting myself in real trouble, but my husband could not in his own life. Maybe it's a difference in young ladies vs young men, and the relative safety we feel day-to-day.

My husband agrees with this in a small way, but his main concern (and mine as well) is that once your child is driving and has a cell phone, all of a sudden having a cell phone becomes MORE dangerous because of the risk of checking texts or actually sending texts while driving. A young driver (or any driver) is so at risk for hurting or killing themselves or someone else.

Also, do you agree with the verdict of the MA teen (18 yo) who was found guilty of homicide for killing someone while texting and driving? I'm torn. I think a strong message needs to be sent, but I feel for the boy himself. I ultimately agree with the decision though. The texting and driving has to stop - it's going to get more dangerous and out of hand than DUIs soon.

Luckily, my kids are only 3 and 6 yo so we have some time - although the 6 yo is already asking for one *yikes*. Maybe there will be some technology where if the phone is moving over a certain speed it will not receive or send text messages.... Hopefully...

What are your thoughts???

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answers from Lakeland on

I think if kids have cell phones then it is important to teach them how to use them safely. Parents should also be teaching them to not text and drive, when and where it is appropriate to use it, etc. Anywhere you look there are billboards, commercials and laws against texting and driving (and even walking and texting).

That 18 year old broke the law and now he has gotten his punishment. Would you feel differently if he were drinking and driving and killed someone? To me it is like the same thing.

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answers from Austin on

To all of you parents that say you are going to wait till your child is 15.. keep this post so that when you realize your child needs it way earlier.. you will be able to giggle at what was planned versus real life.

Here is the deal.. Many places do not have pay phones anymore. Your child may have to ask a stranger if they can borrow their phone to call you.. Your plans to always be there and never just drop off your child.. does not always work out that way..

Also when you need to get a hold of your child to let them know plans have changed..the cell phone is a life saver..

No your child will not be allowed to check it during school time, but right after school lets out they can check it, and contact you to confirm they have the message.

When your child is in extra activities a friends home.. won't it make you feel better to know they can be contacted by you directly or they can call you directly?

There are special apps on cell phones that will not allow you to use your phone as you drive. It will send a message to the caller you are not available and it locks down so the driver cannot unlock their phone.

Give children credit, they can and do land earn how to properly use their phones. Do not want them to text, do not purchase texting service. or lock that portion of it so it can not be accessed.

We do not know what will come.
I have learned as a parent to never say never. .

Your children are going to follow their passions, follow their interest and be offered opportunities you can never imagine.. All of a sudden that Cheer leading squad that competes out of state.. is going to make sense that your child would be a part of that... Even though you sneered at those people back in high school..

That Baseball team that is only for the ultimate players.. your child will be the pitcher and of course you will not want them to miss out. Even though you were never picked for a team and HATE baseball.

Equestrian lessons will be necessary because you realize your child's passion is all involved in Horses. Even though it sounds completely elitist and out of your reach right now..

We all end up following our children's leads and making different choices than we ever imagined..

It happens all of the time. to those that say "I will never"...

Instead be prepared to do what is best for your family and do not give a hoot about what others think.. Follow your child's lead.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I am still pretty torn about this too. My daughter is 3 1/2 so yeah, we still have time too.

I will probably allow my daughter to have one when she is 15. If she is irresponsible with it, I will take it away. We got by just fine with getting information to each other at school. :)

Texting in driving will result in immediate termination of both the cell phone and the car. We will lead by example and not do it ourselves. I understand that I won't be able to be with her all the time. But just like my dad drilled the importance of seat belts, I will be drilling the importance of distracted driving.

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answers from Washington DC on

My daughter got her phone at 6. She is a dancer and there were places they would rehearse where only the room moms and dance teachers could go in. I didn't like that, so she had a phone to reach me.

I see no problem with kids having them when appropriate, but parents need to be responsible with them as well.

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answers from Augusta on

ok here's my $.02

My kids have an old phone of mine that we activated that they can take when them when they go play. We did this because they started riding their bikes with more confidence. They can go riding the neighborhood and I don't have to worry if one of the falls and gets seriously hurt or if we need to go anywhere I can get in touch with them and call them home without searching the neighborhood for them.
They are 7 and 10.

A cell phone is a safety device. If you treat it as that and teach your kids that that's what it's for you wont' have problems with texting, etc. Drill into them how dangerous it is to text and drive. By the time your kids are old enough to drive technology will have changed by leaps and bounds.

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answers from Portland on

First, yes, I agree with a 'homicide' verdict for the teen. It has been beaten into our heads that texting and driving or even using a cell phone and driving is JUST as bad as driving while under the influence. If people choose to disregard this information and just do as they please, they must accept the consequence of their actions, which were selfish to begin with. No text or cell call is 'worth' someone's life. We are supposed to pull over to do those thing--texting or making a call--and losing your child, spouse, or parent to a distracted driver isn't any better than losing them to a drunk driver. As a person who has almost been hit-- many times, and sometimes while I had children with me-- I have no sympathy or patience for those distracted self-absorbed drivers who put their phone call above the safety of others.

I have to agree with your husband; a lot of the distracted drivers I see are teens and younger people who think they are capable of driving and looking at their phone. I know this because I'll be waiting at a corner to cross and I don't cross until I make eye contact with the driver and know they've seen me. At least three or four teens have come close to taking me out in the past few years because they were looking only at the stoplight and their phone.

My husband and I have already discussed our feelings about this and are both in agreement that A. our son will get a cell phone when he can pay for it and B. if he uses it while driving, his car privileges will be revoked for a substantial period of time. He's five now, so we have lots of time, both to impress upon him that this is just as risky a behavior as unprotected sex or DUI, and to set the good example for him to follow. Unless the passenger takes the call, no one answers the phone or calls out/texts when driving in our car.

Lastly, in regard to safety: when my child is younger and at a friends house, I'd prefer to call through the parent, so I can verify he's actually where he says he is. I also think that kids need more safety skills than just calling M. or daddy anytime things get hard. They need to know how to talk to helpful strangers (I had to do that as a kid--most were fine and I had no bad experiences in this regard.) Kids need to know that they should ask adults close by for help if it's an emergency. They should know how to use the school or camp offices to make phone calls to us if need be.

Frankly, my cell phone battery is wearing out lately and I really do not want to get a new phone (we have a landline)---but after 3 years of having one, everyone expects me to continue to have one. sigh.

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answers from Grand Forks on

I'm against cell phones, period! I may be the last person on earth to own one, but I honestly don't see the need for it, especially for kids and teens! When I was a teen, I had to call home if I was going to be late coming home or if there was a change of plans, and there was always a phone available, either at someones house, school, business or a payphone. I've gone 42 years without one. There has been the odd time when a phone would have come in handy, but it has never been a necessity.

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answers from Washington DC on

I have two sks and one got a phone at 10 and one at 14. The older one used it appropriately. The younger one did not - til she got to be about 14 herself. I think a basic (basic!) cell phone is appropriate for a child who is of an age to use one for more than texting and who actually needs to communicate with you away from you (like sports practice getting out early). These days there are fewer and fewer pay phones so the cell phone becomes the new "quarter in your pocket to call home". Many plans allow another phone to be added for $10 a line.

I have not read enough about that case to say what I feel about it. However, texting and driving IS as dangerous as DUIs. It simply is. Just this weekend my daughter (in a stroller) and I were nearly run over by someone not paying attention because she was making a right on red and watching the traffic and talking on a cell phone vs watching pedestrians. We were already in the intersection when she zoomed up.

Our rule (and hopefully the sks follow it) is that you put your cell phone away when you drive. Especially for our 17 yr old newish driver. Don't even pick it up on hand's free. Just don't. BUT she should have a phone so if she gets stuck on the highway she can call for help without leaving her car or being at the mercy of someone she doesn't know. Just don't use it when she's driving.

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answers from St. Louis on

My older two have had cell phones since they were 12 and 14. It had no impact on their driving abilities. My son will use hands free text from time to time but for the most part in the car the use the phone as a phone.

There is already hands free texting and email technology. How about we go in that direction instead of going by the speed of the car. Remember there are passengers in the cars as well.

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answers from Boca Raton on

Yikes.. I don't know. Depends on how responsible he is with it.. I still have time, as well.. My son is 5.. My neighbors kids are 11 and 13 and they both have phones..

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answers from Chicago on

My daughter is 11 and has a cell phone. One time bring at a friends home and they didn't have a landline only cells, the parent left to go grocery shopping with her cell phone and my child knows an adult is to be present but had no way to call me. We talked about this situation, lack of pay phones these days and things that happen now that would not have happened back when we were teens. I can't even compare my life to my kids so that is unfair. I chose to add a family plan and get her a basic phone, she uses it to call when she needs to be picked up, takes it when she wants to bike ride or is in the yard with friends as we have a large lot with lots of trees and it is just easier to ring her than scream for 20 minutes. My kids don't have TV or other electronics or computers in tgeir rooms so this is just a safety thing not a luxury.



answers from Chicago on

I agree with Laurie, never say never. However, there has been many a discussion about this in our house as well. Daddy says "No, never". I say "never say never, you will eat those words". I also agree with there not being any pay phones any more. I also agree with not being included with things. Although, sometimes we would all be better off if some people didn't include us in some things! :)

Right now we are not going to consider it until they are no longer being driven by us back and forth. Right now they are always with an adult. Our oldest is 9. Jr. High is coming and she will be on a bus. I'm pretty sure that we will cave then and give her a phone. It will have restricted minutes, for sure. It kills me to think that we are only 2 years away from that!

I would love to know about the app that prevents the phone from working when the car is moving? More info on that would be great! My husband's boss (just recently) was almost in a bad car accident because he was texting and driving. It is ILLEGAL, in Illinois, to text and drive so he has no one to blame but himself. He was thinking of taking away the texting feature from all company phones because of this. I'm sure a feature like that would keep him from making such a rash decision of taking away all texting, if he knew he could keep everyone safe while they were driving.


answers from Norfolk on

I think it's fine to have a phone with you, but some people really need to power it down and put it in the glove compartment before starting the engine of their vehicle.
I can not TELL you the number of times I see people pull out of a parking space with the phone glued to one ear.
If talking/texting is so important, stay parked and more power to you.
If you have to drive, turn the phone off and DO NOT CHECK IT until you have arrived at your destination and your vehicle is parked and turned off.
Why should that be so difficult?
As for the teen who killed while texting and driving, how would you feel if it were one of your family he ran over and killed?
Homicide by stupidity should be punished as severely as possible.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I have repeatedly told my granddaughter that we will talk about her getting a cell phone when she turns 10. She often will tell her friends that she is getting one then, I remind her that talking about it does not mean getting, it means we are going to tell her if she takes care of stuff and has the ability to take care of one yet. She has a year and a half to learn how to do that.

She will run go clean her room or something to show us she is responsible...goofy goober kid.

I think that getting a phone is a good idea, seriously, they have the ability to call home and any other person allowed on the kids phone kind of phone, we won't get her one that texts, she just won't get that as an option, and she'll have to obey well or we'll have this uber powerful item we can take away when she's grounded.

But in all honesty, she'll probably have a tablet or some other sort of communication device before then. Probably for this Christmas. Then she won't need a phone for texting or anything else. Just phone calls.



answers from Chicago on

Back in the day when my teens started driving, texting was not an issue. We got pay as you go phones with a set amount of minutes good for 2 months. When she ran out of minutes, she had to buy more, or go without service til the next billing cycle kicked in. Those were the days.

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