Teen Cell Phone Vs. No Cell Phone

Updated on August 09, 2010
J. asks from Provo, UT
66 answers

I have yet to see something about taking a stand against cell phones. My son has been asking, actually begging me to get him one (he is 16). We have gone round and round on the issue. He poses a very good argument as do I. I need some additional insight as to why he should and should not have one. He is a “good” teen as much as I can tell but I worry about the TEXTING that gets out of control, the phone calls in the middle of the night or alone in his bedroom, who is calling and how long or often is he chatting with a girl or his guy friends etc. I do know that texting, instant messenger and Facebook/network sits are the new way of communication for the next generation but I am so leery of allowing that to be MY SON’S new way of communication. Am I being a parent that is just not allowing my son to move into the new century of communication?

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M.R.

answers from Boise on

I'm on the no opinion and I'll tell everyone why. I was just the overnight awake adult at a boy/girl campout. There was only one boy who snuck a phone anyway and texted or called the whole night with a girl off site. As I was not allowed to confinscate the phone all I could do was report this in the morning. I really found that although I had been thinking of getting my own child a cell phone that not only was this very responsible when the adults are watching young man completely inappropriate so was the girl, bordering on pornographic. These kids should know better. Now if I ever get my child a cell phone I will definently pay the extra to have all but approved numbers blocked and he will not have text. If he wants more than he can have a phone when he is paying for it. It's all fine and good to be able to montior cell phone use by children but it's what they are doing when we aren't watching thats the real issue.

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R.M.

answers from Provo on

J.,
I don't have any teens and we haven't encountered this issue yet. But...my sisters have. They all have the rule that the cell phone is in the parents room overnight. That way they monitor late night phone calls and texts. They also let their kids know that they snoop. So my sisters scroll through their texts and incoming/outgoing calls. I'm not much help-just a little suggestion.

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S.P.

answers from Great Falls on

I may be old fashioned but I don't think a cell phone should be given to kids. Of any age. It's expensive, they aren't allowed in schools an added charges are hard to pay off. I have thought about using a prepaid cell. That way there's no ectra charges. As for who he's talking to; well, is it right to monitor him so closely for no reason? There should be strict guidelines and you should have the right to stop getting him new minutes if he breaks those rules. Like I said though, I wouldn't get him one yet. IMO. LOL.

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M.L.

answers from Fort Collins on

If you would feel better being able to reach him any where and visa versa then get one. I believe you can completely set the plan how you want. If you have a plan already adding a phone shouldn't be much and I believe that through Verizon now you can limit number of minutes and I know you can lock features such as Text messaging and internet. There are also special phones that can only call programed numbers and 911. Your teen may not be keen on that idea at all but it's out there. I think the best thing would be to lock the number of minutes so that your teen has to keep track of how much he is talking and if he uses it too much he's done for the month.

One other option would be to have a family cell phone that he can take if he is going somewhere that you would be most comfortable being able to reach him. You could then take it if you are going to be out and your family needs to reach you. My parents are sharing a cell phone right now so that they have one in case of emergency on the road but it's not their regular form of communication.

Good luck, I'm not excited about having to make these decisions when my kids are teens!

M.

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M.D.

answers from Boise on

Hi J., I am a mom of a 21 year old. She recently moved out of state and is attending college. She is getting married in April.. I tell you this because that is only 5 Years difference than your son. I am totally fine with all of her decisions. I bought her a cricket cell phone when she was in 7th grade. It's $50 no matter how much she uses it so there were never any scary bills.... they can be HUGE! There were rules with her phone. No calls after 10 on school nights and if I was calling she had to answer, unless she was driving. No phone while driving. Once she had a phone, I was able to give her more freedom. I knew I could reach her anytime, and vice versa. The thing I learned is to give freedom a bit at a time. Make your home one that kids want to come to... ie food, movies, a place where mom is not hovering. Once I got to know her friends I was ok with her going to their homes. She was only 17 when she graduated but by then she was allowed to be out until 2 a.m. ( for the most part they would go to each other's homes and watch movies or meet as a group at Denny's) She tried alcohol on her 21st birthday and it isn't for her. The thing is, your son will be out there in the real world very soon. You have to give him space to learn. The kids that were controlled until they went to college went wild once they got a taste of freedom. Why are you so concerned? Do you trust him? As for facebook, I have a site, as does my sister that lives out of state. It is so fun to visit her space and see that our whole family is connecting. My daughter leaves me messages and I keep up on the wonderful group of kids that she grew up with. My advice, give him a phone and make it a celebration. Make the rules clear and take it away for periods of time if needed. When he turns 18 and walks out the door for college or an apartment you will know that you gave him the space to learn how to deal with this world. Good luck!

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S.W.

answers from Pocatello on

HI J., I have a 16 year old son that I had the same problem with. I got him a cell phone and had a real problem with the texting. So I blocked EVEYTHING but actual phone calls. It was a good way to keep track of his phone calls and who he was talking to. I was also glad he had his phone because he was involved in a car wreck and was able to call me and let me know what happened and where he was. I can also call him to check up on him when I am at work or out somewhere. He is also able to update me on his whereabouts. I don't allow him to take calls after 9pm. There are restrictions we have placed on his using it. (not during school hours, after 9pm, etc.) I just really feel better knowing he has it.

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P.D.

answers from Denver on

I did not read too many of the other responses as there are so many, so I may be repeating some of the things already written. We have, until this point, told our teens 'no' because we simply can't afford multiple phones! We have one for the family that I primarily carry, (and rarely use) that we will let them use as situations warrant (they're going to be gone somewhere and need to call for a ride, etc.) We actually don't let them text. The phone is basically for emergencies or important necessary info. I just tell them we only have 150 minutes per month, and they don't need to use it to chat with friends. They don't need it at school as they need to be focusing on their work. When home, they can use the home phone for FREE. We will revisit the issue as they begin driving. I know it will be pretty limited then, too. My kids tell me they are the only people they know without a cell phone, but they have accepted it for now. (After all, what do you say when you're told there's not enough money?) When the time does come, they will probably be given minimal minutes and will have to pay for overages. I'm sure I'm different from most, but so many kids are so frivolous with them!

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D.N.

answers from Grand Junction on

I have an 18 year old son who just went out of state to college and an almost 16 year old daughter. The very few friends they have without cell phones get left out of so much. It is also wonderful to be able to call them anytime and find out where they are and what they are doing and with whom. I can get online and see what phone number they are talking to or sending messages to and from. It also shows how long each conversation lasts. I go through the list with my children and make sure I know who each person is. If I see that they are using their phones after bedtime then I make them give me their phone when they go to bed and I put it on their nightstand and plug it into the charger when I go to bed. They also get it taken away if they don't answer when I try to call them. As long as you treat it as a privilege that you control I think you will find it has many benefits to you.

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A.G.

answers from Missoula on

Part of the thing is just to HAVE a phone because "Everyone has one". It is also good to be in touch with our kids for rides and changes of plan. They are not used too often but extremely handy when they can't get to a phone. We have solved this problem with TRAC phones for our family.

We bought each of our three girls a phone when they got to the middle school because it is SO far from our home. THEY have to purchase their own minutes (on a card) and so are responsible for how many minutes they use. Texting costs one third of a minute so they often text us to let us know if they need to stay late or be picked up early. They do not often call or text friends because it is their minutes they are using.

We did buy double minute cards this year that are good for the life of the phone. They know they will not get another phone so they have to take care of it. In our family it is all about responsibilty and earning priviliges.

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J.E.

answers from Fort Collins on

I didn't get one until I was 16 - - Only because I had started driving and my dad wanted me to have it in an emergency. If you get him one that has a set amount of minutes that will control his calls.

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J.N.

answers from Salt Lake City on

How about a pre-paid phone? That way he can't go over on the minutes. You can also ask them about limitations on call time/texting for the service. I've heard of some phones that you can get where kids can only dial 5 or 10 numbers.

I agree with other moms that it shouldn't go to school. Too much of a distraction. But there were times when I was a teen and needed to call home (not from school but out with friends or on a date) and I had to find a pay phone - cells just weren't common back then. Pay phones are becoming harder to find and use, so it might be good to get him a phone with restricted use, at least.

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E.W.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Get him a prepaid phone. That way he still has a way of contacting you if there is an emergency or if he's out with friends and letting you know who when and where. And, because it's prepaid, he has to ration them so they last the whole month. Once his minutes are gone, they're gone until you buy more. Good behavior earns more minutes, bad takes away minutes. If texting is your worry, get him a plan that doesn't have texting. If he then uses the feature, he will have to pay for it. When it's not in the plan it's more expensive and he'll learn very quickly that he shouldn't do it. I do think it is a good idea for him to have a phone, for emergency purposes. The choice is ultimately yours.

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J.M.

answers from Pocatello on

there are cell phone plans (i think verizon has one) where you can limit the minutes they use and you can limit when they use the phone i.e. 10 a.m.. to 8 p.m. you can also set it to alert you when your kid goes out of an area..like school.
do some research on different plans with different companies. ask lots of questions.

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K.L.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I work with teens about his age. I know parents that have restrictions like listed below.

The rule is at any time, whenever asked a parent can view the phone. Photos (pornographic) are in every school and being spread around, especially in groups that are "going out" a lot. Girls and boys taking naked pictures of themselves and sending to girl/boyfriends. Talk about legal ramifications and responsibilities if someone EVER forwards that kind of stuff to him.

Texting is the main way they communicate. I've had youth grounded from their phones for a month because of over 10,000 texts or more in a month!! Also texting and phone manners... they need to be able to NOT have the phone attached to them. If a text comes through and your eating supper, then it waits (rules like that).

And the hardest thing for the teens is to turn it off during homework time. They really have a hard time getting their homework done without interruptions. Maybe he could give it to you during that time and you could monitor incoming calls and texts?!? Also, quite a few parents have all the family phones turned into them at 10pm every night. They charge in parent's bedroom.

Anyway, I only know one teen that doesn't have one, and she won't be getting one ever. Her parents don't have one either. The good thing is it's your decision no matter what!!! I know it sure inflicts a lot of pain to get them taken away as a form of pnnishment should you ever need something.

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T.T.

answers from Denver on

Let him have the cell phone. It really is the teen thing. You can get plans with unlimited texting so the bill won't get out of control. It's also good for safety reasons. You can get a hold of him when you want and he can get a hold of you. Cricket really has the best deal if you just want one phone. Otherwise, get a family plan. You can keep tabs on all of it, even look up and read his texts so you know who he's talking to and what he is saying. There's a way to do it online so you don't have to sneak his phone away to do it. Talk to whatever company you get service with to find out how to do that. You can also set limits on it and he loses phone privileges if he doesn't follow the rules. No calls after 10 pm maybe. Don't give your phone number out to someone you don't know. Things like that. My brother has had a cell phone since he was 14. I didn't, but cell phones were still pretty new when was I that age. :) I can understand the need to protect your son, but cell phones really aren't that bad. Set limits, keep tabs, and he will love you for it. :)

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J.N.

answers from Billings on

My only reasoning for yes is, teenagers are doing a lot more things now where they might need to get ahold of you. I couldn't tell you off hand which company it is, maybe its a service more than one offer, but they offer something where you can regulate how much they are allowed to use. Or maybe you could use one of those go phones until you can see how responsible he is with the cell phone. Have him do things around the house to "earn" the minutes you'd need to buy.

GL either which way
J.

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K.H.

answers from Salt Lake City on

If your concern is safety - I like the 4-button phone that I read about from one person. If anything else, what about an incentive NOT to have a phone. Like something else that your son really wants that you'll put the phone money towards instead and let him choose which he wants more? I don't know what I'm going to do when the time comes, as I know it will, so I've enjoyed the responses here. I'll probably cave in to that's just the way things are and give him one but with restrictions - just like with a car (he'll have to pay insurance and gas, at least, if he wants it, and he'll lose it if he breaks rules or standards of family behavior).

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S.H.

answers from Salt Lake City on

My husband and I decided to let our 16 year old son get a cell phone this year. Conditions are that he pays for it himself, (he bought the phone he wanted and pays $10 a month for the extra line), he must be responsible with it, (no late night phone calls, no using in school, etc), and he must keep his grades up. (A's). I don't mind him texting as long as he follows the above condition, (we have unlimited texting... very important). If he meets all of the conditions, he gets his phone privilages. I do check the bill every month, so I am aware of who he is talking to and when it's being used. If I don't recognize a number, we'll check it out. I am not at all concerned about him having problems with interacting with people one on one, he learned those skills long before we agreed to let him get a phone. We also have an extra line for our two younger children to use. (When they go to the park, for example.) We've found that it comes in very handy to check on them and for them to let us know when they need help. They know that they are only allowed to call Mom and Dad (or big brother) and that they will not be able to use it if they don't follow the rules. They also both understand that they can get their own phones when they are 16 as long as they meet the conditions we have set. We have taught our children that cell phones are PRIVILAGES not NECCESSITIES. I think if your son is responsible and willing to pay his way, let him try it out. (If he doesn't have a job, find something he can do around the house every month for the extra $10. (Clean refrigerator, oven, things he normally doesn't do.) Hope this helps and that you all can work something out. :)

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E.J.

answers from Boise on

We have seven kids ages 21, 19, 16, 15, 12, 10 and 7. We have had the cell phone debate many times in our family, and have tried teens with cell phones three different times with three different teens. The conclusion we have come to is that teens having cell phones is a bad idea. Especially now that texting is rampant. We have now made it a family rule that our kids will not have cell phones until they move out of the house and can pay for their own.
The biggest problem we encountered will the cell phones is that the kids are in CONSTANT contact with each other through texting. It becomes the most important thing to them. Also, they were carrying on relationships with people that we, as parents, had no idea of. And, believe it or not, you can still function just fine without a cell phone!

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K.P.

answers from Boise on

I am so not big on kids having cell phones for recreational use i.e. texting and blabbing to the friends they have seen all day. I think texting makes kids stupid. Besides, did you hear about the kid who was 10 I believe that stepped into oncoming traffic last week and was killed because he was looking down TEXTING!? Can you imagine how guilty those parents feel for giving him a cell phone? On a little different note just for a piece of info, my husband has been looking at cell phones designed for little kids that only have 4 buttons on them. The parents program the phone with only the numbers they want the child to be able to call, like home, work, grandma, mom or dad's cell, and there is a 911 button on it. As my kids get older, and are riding the school bus, it might not be a real bad idea for them to have something like that to be able to contact us or 911 if the bus breaks down or gets into an accident. I'm still leery, but you just never know what might save or help your kids. It's almost like the story we rolled our eyes at when our parents said they walked 10 miles in the snow to school because they didn't get a car at 16. It's weird being on the parent side of that.

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J.S.

answers from Colorado Springs on

Well at 16 I had a cell phone. However, I had to pay for it. At 16 he can get a job in the summer and pay for some of the expense. Now if you are willing to pay for it, than I would say you have an understanding with him and boundries. There are plans out there which he can just call 5 people or however many you want him to be able to call. I think he is old enough to get a cell phone, but he needs to know you can look at it whenever you want. Maybe once a week check the phone to see the texts and pictures sent back and forth. I really do not think you are hindering him by not getting him one, but I know at 16 I wanted one in order to contact friends. Put limits on it. When he goes to bed at night it sould sit on the counter so you know if someone is calling him in the middle of the night. (I never really received those calls). If he is a good kid like you say, there will not be an issue. I would pay for it, but if he goes over it gets taken away and he needs to earn the money to pay the extra. Where people go wrong is they let them loose with unlimited use and they do not understand how much it really costs. Good Luck! Hope that helps! :)

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S.S.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I knowthat Tmobile now offers phones that you can disable the texting on to not incur fees. Also, my friend has a little basket in the kitchen that her teens have to put the cell phone in whenever they come home and then they can use the home phone if needed. That way she knows they aren't on it all night. With this as the rule for them to get a phone, her kids agreed to it. If you haven't heard about the cell phone group at Farmington Jr. High where kids were sending pictures of their body parts to each other. Some are still facing criminal charges and I guarantee most of their parents never thought 'their' child would get into that. good luck!

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R.G.

answers from Grand Junction on

We have 2 daughters that play competetive soccer, and travel on some weekends without us. For us it was a safety issue. Many of their friends go to different schools that are on their teams. They text their friends a lot, but we have controls. No texting after 8:30 pm. ( They can do it later on weekends.) Keep the phone out of their room at night. The phone stays home while they are in school. We know every person they are texting, and sometimes check their messages. They have to keep their grades up or we take the phone. If we catch them txting after 8:30 pm. the phone is taken for a day or two. It is actually a good bargaining chip. They really want to keep their phones and they know it is a priviledge. They try hard to keep them. We buy their first phone. They have to pay for the next one. They buy the accessories. If they lose it or break it, they have to buy the new one. I think it is good with teaching responsibilty. Good luck!

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C.B.

answers from Denver on

I will make this short and sweet. How well do you know and trust your son? If he is trustworthy set the boundaries and get the phone for emergencies ONLY.

C. B

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C.W.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I'm a single mom with 4 teenage daughters. They have all wanted cell phones. My rule has been that they get their own when they have 3 months worth of payments in the bank and they pay the monthly cost of it. I do have 1 line that they share until they can get their own. I decide who takes it with them when they go somewhere. I also put time limits on it. They are allowed to have it for 2 hours on school nights (only after school). They give it to me each night to charge in my bedroom. I've had to resort to hiding it after it is charged so that they don't take it school with them. I don't like them having a cell phone at school because they tend to text during class. When they have taken it, it has inevitably been taken away by a teacher since it's against the rules.

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K.I.

answers from Denver on

My step mother makes her 17 year old twins leave their cell phones on the kitchen counter at night. Also, you can get a plan that only covers minimal texting - he would have to pay for any overages. If you do get him a phone, I would definitely not go for all the bells and whistles. They are more expensive, and more of a distraction. It would be nice for you to be able to contact him and know where he is (I know there were times my parents wished they had something like this when I was a teen). I would just make sure you stay in charge of the whole phone situation one way or another. I am not in favor of overly controlling parenting, but being informed and in charge (especially considering what teens are exposed to today) is important. Good luck! I don't want to imagine what I will be asked to buy when my little ones are teens!

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S.W.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I'm not as experienced as some of the other moms who have responded, but here's my issue with teens and cell phones. . . it seems like one more method of becoming totally peer-oriented and less family-oriented right at a time in their lives when maintaining good relationships with positive adult mentors is of the highest importance. I'm not comfortable with teens ahving their own phones and numbers, because it's one less opportunity for paretns to know friends and filter contacts a bit. If friends call the house to ask to speak with your teen, you are in the loop. If they call your child's cell phone directly, you're out of the loop.
Your family is probably good at compromise (noting your childcare situation) and I'm not out to be mean to a kid who is generally cooperative. Perhaps you can have a family cell phone and he can take it occasionally? That way, you've got the emergency contact/mom-can-you-pick-me-up/socially fitting in thing, without surrendering your opportunity to be in the know, and your son will be conscientious about not using the phone inappropriately.
(My nieces are often receiving suggestive comments through texting, and don't always pick up when their mom calls. It's not always the perfect "leash.")
It's not a matter of distruct as much as it is a matter of needing to maintain your status as an important relationship in his life.
I got a lot out of the book "Hold on to Your Kids" by Dr. Gordon Neufeld. I highly recommend it.

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J.N.

answers from Denver on

I guess that I am taking the opposite stance from most of the people who are responding. I am part of the generation that uses social net-working, text messaging, etc. to communicate. I don't think that it has been detrimental to my social skills, it is just an easy and convenient way to keep in touch. Like it or not cell phones and text messaging are part of being a teen/young adult today. I don't think that kids should get a cell phone in kindergarten, but 16 seems old enough to handle the responsibility. If you are worried about the cost, Cricket has phones with unlimited talk and text time for less than $50 a month.

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C.S.

answers from Denver on

Hi J....loos like I'm in the minority along with Jamie...my daughter has had her cell phone since the age of 13. I was against her having one, but alas her dad decided to get one for her. (we are divorced) I was okay with it as long as she did not take it to school with her. (She is 17 now and takes her phone everywhere!). I know at the High School my daughter goes to, the teachers have strict policies regarding the use of cells phones during class time and seem to have a handle on it so I don't worry about that. Her phone has come in quite handy many times over, both when she needs to contact me (or her dad), or vice versa. She's a good student (honor roll) so her usage time is not restricted. She is also hearing impaired as are most of her close friends and as for text messaging, its their only way to communicate by phone. (She can hear to talk on the phone but seems they all prefer text messaging anyhow!) Your son is 16 yrs. and responsible so why not give it a trial run? If cost concerns you, tell him if he wants a cell phone that bad, get a job and pay for one himself! That just may be the deciding factor!! Whatever you decide, good luck!

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R.B.

answers from Grand Junction on

J., I have two teens and we did break down and do the cell phone ting this year. It actually has worked out quite well as they are both involved in extra curricular activities. When there is a meeting or practice is going longer they can call.I also have to say when things are uncomfortable they have also called for us to bail them out of certain situations.(They are not driving yet) They did have to pay for their phones and the unlitmited texting - we have a family plan (free to call each other and other people with sprint)but they are paying for the texting part. The phone comapanies have online parental controls and we have the phones shut down at 11pm. Online you can track who, what, where, when and how many minutes they are using. You can also shut the phone down at certain hours or indefinately if you have to take it. They can always call 911 even if the phone is shut down. In our house it is their responsibility to charge it and replace it if they lose it. Overall it has been a very useful tool in communication for our family.

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J.G.

answers from New York on

you know, there are interesting advantages to smart phones for teen agers. obviously there are some concerns, but none in excess of a typical cell phone.

plus, there a rich amount of apps out there for smartphones - particularly iphones - which can spark your teen's creativity and keep them preoccupied. parents all over have remarked how straightforward iphone adoption is for teens.

there is also an opportunity to create your own app, which would expose your teen to a whole new horizon. check out this guide on how to create your own iphone app - so easy a parent could follow it! http://unbouncepages.com/create-your-first-iphone-app/

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C.M.

answers from Provo on

Hi, our oldest son also begged us for months about getting a cell phone. I like that he has one because when he is outside in the neighborhood or at friends I can get a hold of him. We had one condition for him getting the phone though, he had to pay for it in advance(the whole year). The phone was free with activation, or add on to our account, but it is $10 month for that new line. He worked this summer mowing lawns, babysitting and housesitting for neighbors and he gave us $120 up front. We told him every June he owes us $120 to put towards HIS phone line.

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J.O.

answers from Boise on

I really don't see anyone addressing your real issues with why you don't want him to have a phone. In my house they don't get one until 15 and then it is a pay as you go and they are responsible for how much time they use. I only put so much on per month and now they can even add a texting feature for a few bucks more. It has worked out great, I have 4 teens and 3 small one.

If you are concerned about the useage at night put the phone up after whatever time you no longer want him on it. When you start questioning ever aspect of their live's I think it can be a bit to much (I know I have had to reel myself back) 2 years from know he will be an adult, he needs to start looking out for himself.

I like my kids having one so that we can stay in touch, so that on those days where nothing goes as planned I have a way to reach them and vice versa, I also like that I will NEVER hear out of their mouths "I couldn't find a phone", come on how many of us used that on our parents :)?

Remember cell phones can be great bargining tools with teens, lay out what you expect and what will happen if he doesn't follow the rules.

I see no real reason why a kid at his age couldn't have one.

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J.R.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Ummm...yes, get him a phone. The novelty wears off quickly. Make sure you get unlimited text (learned that quick). And, he is old enough to have a job, so why doesn't he just get a job and get his own? Why do you have to do it if he wants one?

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C.H.

answers from New York on

I fall on the pro-cell phone side. I got my now 12-yr-old his first phone when he was 9, and I'll be getting my middle kid a phone next Spring likely.

Both my husband and I were working back then. I was a little reluctant too, but ultimately decided that I preferred that my child always had a way to get hold of me as he became increasingly independent. It was only after I bought the phone and I was inputting his address book, that I realized I had 5 phone numbers just for me! When I was a kid, all I needed to know was my home number...somebody was always there. Then it dawned on me that my kids (all three) new my cell number by heart (they hear me give it out all the time) but known of them new our home phone consistently.

It turned out to be my best parenting decision ever. I can get hold of him wherever he is at, he always has ever number he could need in case of emergency, and there were other benefits too. We are Verizon customers, as are my in-laws and parents. My son can call his grandparents, cousins, aunts, friends, etc for free in-network whenever and for however long he wants. They can text him back. Verizon has family locator, so I can track the location of his phone (and theorectically him) at anytime (but I've never used it). The first phone I bought him had a lockable phone book so he could only receive calls from and make calls to numbers in his phonebook and today he has a open phonebook so he can add, and I just control certain other accesses from our account.

I still control his phone; I pay the bill. 1. We have unlimted minutes and texting for my husband and I so caps are not an issue. 2) We choose his phone with his input. He wanted a media phone, he didn't get one of those but still a nice upgrade when we got our Droid X's. 3) Some friends do text at night. We have curfews for the phone too, and we help avoid this by charging phone in the kitchen overnight. If someone does text regularly too late, they will eventually bore of not getting an answer. 4) We also have regular phone moratoriums, for instance during dinner. 5) Grounding him from his phone is effective but very inconvenient for us. He gets grounded from friends first which helps. 6) if it gets necessary, I can always d/c his phone for awhile (I still have to pay the contract fee though).

Disney used to make a product that you could control time of day and length of call, but it was economically imprudent to pay $25 for that service when his extra line is $10 as Verizon. I encourage you to do your research on instrument and account options and find a reasonable solution now. He's 16, very soon, even a good kid would learn to embrace the fact that you can't get hold of him at a moments notice...

Best,
M

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S.B.

answers from Denver on

Personally, I am against phones for kids. I taught HS and it was illegal...quote unquote at school. I had to take them away all the time. I also know our county has about three teens die each year due to phones in the car and stupid mistakes. So if you do it, how about sharing one and he has one in the nights he goes out with friends or is at work, etc. Or if you get him one, get a $50 unlimited calling plan with no camera or texting. I have that and it is perfect for me. there is no need to text at his age except for cheating in school to friends..sharing answers on tests, etc. Or a go phone and he has to pay for minutes over a set amount of maybe 20 minutes (enough to call home and check in) each month. then he will have to work to pay for it or it is gone. Make this his choice and responsibility.

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L.W.

answers from Colorado Springs on

Hi J.!

Here's what we are doing. They are not allowed to have FACEBOOK, MYSPACE, or IM. Seriously, why??? It's nonsense and it backfires. The cell phone, however, is a different story. We need to be able to reach our kids and vice versa. Especially when they start driving. Cell phones cannot be used in the middle of the night; otherwise, they must be left in the kitchen at night. If the phone is lost or confiscated by the school ... too bad, you buy your next one and your social life is seriously impaired because we cannot reach you.

Hope this helps!
L.

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H.W.

answers from Provo on

I have a very basic phone from cricket that doesn't allow text messaging anyway. You can get him a cell phone with no texting ability if that is the main concern. I would sit down and talk with him about some guidelines if you get the phone. Tell him that the phone needs to be given to you and your husband after curfew, so there is no temptation for late night calls. You can control how many minutes he has. Just research some different plans and companies. At 16 I used to think that there was no reason for teens to have a cell phone, but I like being able to know where they are and being able to call if there is an emergency, or if he finds himself in an uncomfortable situation and he didn't drive. It does happen, even for boys.

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J.S.

answers from Provo on

I'm sorry to add one more note to it all, but the ones I read where kinda against it. My oldest is 11. We are considering getting a phone for her only because she crosses two main roads to get home from school. There have been days that I didn't see them leave to go to school in the morning and it was a few hours after school before I saw them...too many hours that I didn't know where they where. We will get it for her to call me and her Grandma. On the bill, you will see a list of all the numbers the phone makes...text and calls. You can keep track of this yourself and limit his calls. It requires trust on your part and responsibility on his. For us, it is going to be "my phone" that they are borrowing and they will be expected to get their own when they are old enough to hold a job. Kids today have no way of working for trust and gaining those experiences that our ancestors did working a farm. But work with him, keep an open mind, and then set the rules together.

That's my two bits

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P.L.

answers from Salt Lake City on

J.:
We've gone the rounds for years, and I finally broke down this year...my son is 13. I will tell you this, there are definitely more advantages than not,a nd your son may surprise you how little he really does use it, as mine has. I am glad he has it so that I can know where he is at all times and he feels secure he can reach me at all times. Yes, they text, but he knows my rules: Turned off at school and in locker. Turn on the second you get out of school so I can reach him and turned in at night so there is no late night texting...and that's when we can read his texts to make sure they are appropriate!) I say do it, as he is developing his communication skills and just set up some rules!

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K.P.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Hi J., I know exactly how you feel. My son is also 16. My husband and I discussed it very thoroughly with him and agreed based on conditions. Our phone carrier will allow us to deactivate the texting and web-access. Since I am the primary holder of the account my son would have to have me call in to make any changes. We also have a "family" plan so he understands that there are four of us that share minutes and that he cannot talk whenever he wants, I can also monitor it online. We strongly encourage him to talk to friends that have the same company (verizon) and if he wants to talk to others he has to be brief or wait until he's home. We've been doing it now for about 4-5 months and it is working really well. It is also nice because he can call to let us know if he has to stay after school or sometimes he just wants to talk to dad when we are away from the house. It has also been a good trust builder. Good luck.

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A.

answers from Denver on

I gave my 15y a pay-as-you-go. I put $10 in every month. its a boring model, no text or camera. and I put it under my account. so I can check online at any time to see the phone activity. he wants more, he can buy it. I'm not giving him a car either. I'm mean that way.
A.

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J.L.

answers from Provo on

I know you have a lot of responses already, but I just wanted to say, good for you for saying no to begin with. I was a junior high/highschool teacher before being a stay at home mom, and I think so many kids are just handed everything. We always had to take cell phones away. The only reason why you yourself might want him to have one, is if there was an emergency. I remember when I was a teenager my mom gave me one, that had almost no free minutes, it was just to be used if there were an emergency. But that is dangerous because your child may or may not be obedient to that rule. I was, so he might be, it just depends. I imagine though he wants one for more than just that. I don't feel he needs it for that. If he does feel that way, then make him buy it, and make him pay for the minutes. Don't buy it for him. Then still you can request that it be monitorable.

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J.L.

answers from Pocatello on

My husband and I discussed this because we have daughters that will be teenagers soon. First of all, your son does not need a cell phone to communicate with his friends any more than you needed a Cabbage Patch doll when you were a little girl. My husband and I are concerned with safety when our kids go out because we want our kids to be able to call us when we need to. We decided to get one or two pay as you go phones that the kids can use when they go out. They are only to be used to tell Mom and Dad where they are or in case of emergency. If you don't think you can trust your son to follow the rules there are phones you can buy that restrict how it is used. You can make it so there is not a texting option and also so that he can only call certain pre-programmed numbers. Your son's argument seems like the same argument to get an iPod or a new computer. If he feels he really needs a cell phone to communicate with his friends he can pay and take responsibility for it and himself. However, if he is supposed to be saving for college I don't think I would allow that either.

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M.S.

answers from Boise on

You can get a cell phone they call track phones. You can buy them at places like Shopko where you load how many minutes he gets each month. It is prepaid so that you do not have any overage charges, etc, and once he uses the minutes up for the month, then they are up until you reload it the next month.

Cell phones are good for communication between you and him, especially if he is going out on dates, driving home late from work or games, etc. That way if something were to happen, and we all pray it doesn't, that he is able to contact you.

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C.J.

answers from Colorado Springs on

I'm of the camp that says no to the cell phone unless the child is responsible enough to handle it. I personally don't find it necessary for a teen to have a cell phone. In some cases, maybe, but for most it is just a peer pressure thing because "everyone else has one". We've all been there. Usually, at some point in those conversations, I got asked "if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you follow?". I don't think it has anything to do with the new century of communication at his age - it really isn't necessary for his friends to be able to get ahold of him 24/7 no matter where his is or what he is doing! Is he responsible enough not to use it at school, driving, etc? As far as the night time use you were concerned about, I liked the suggestions others had about leaving the phone in the common areas of the house only. Now, on to the cost issue. Personally, I find even an extra $50 a month to be a rather large expense, especially for something that is really not necessary (because if it were, you would have already let him get one) - that is just me. The cricket phones are probably on the cheaper end, as far as cell plans go, but it would still be a sizable expense when you add that up over the course of a year. Does your son work? If so, then he should be responsible for the all the cost associated with the phone. And you would definitely have to set ground rules and if he breaks them the phone goes bye-bye. It could be a way for you to teach him to be responsible with his money to have a bill he has to pay every month. And it could gauge his interest in the phone...is he willing to pay for it? Even if he doesn't have a job, he could still "pay" by doing extra things around the house; if he doesn't do them then he doesn't have his phone. Could be a way to reinforce that you can't get something for nothing in this world. As far as the texting thing, you can get plans that don't allow it. But you would have to read the fine print on those as far as if it is able to be blocked completely or if he would be able to send them and it is just not included in the plan - I know those kinds of texts are pretty expensive. There are also plans that allow it, but only up to a certain number. Good luck!!

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K.M.

answers from Boise on

You have a lot of great feedback on this issue and a tough situation to tackle. If you decide to get your son a phone, make sure to talk to him about appropriate use of communications in different situations. For instance, it's fine to text your buddy about what time he's picking you up for the game, but if you're calling in sick to work, you make a phone call. As parents, we can't assume that our kids will know what to do in different situations. Good luck!

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L.W.

answers from Casper on

My kids aren't old enough to go through this, but I've learned some things from my brothers kids. They make their kids pay for anything over their allotted minutes from their jobs. The live in the country so they have them for driving/emergencies to and from town/school which is at least 15-20 miles one way. They also make them give them the cell phones from 10pm to 7am. That way they don't have those worries about what they are doing when they should be sleeping. If they don't play by their rules, they don't get them. I've heard you can also call your service and as a discipline manager you can ask to have service suspended for no charge for any period of time if your child is not cooperating by your rules.

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M.C.

answers from Salt Lake City on

J. - Every situation is different, but my husband and I have talked a lot about what we are going to do with our kids and cell phones. (We are both educators.) We aren't big cell phone users ourselves so when they go somewhere and need one they can take one of ours. If they are responsible and kind, when they become juniors in high school they will get the long awaited phone, with strict guidelines. We are big fans of giving them certain things when they are still under our guidance. (checking account, cell phone, driving, etc.) With all of that being said.....if they break any of the guidelines that we will give them, they lose the privilege for a certain amount of time. The whole e-mail, my space, instant message, and texting thing makes us nervous but that is where we are at in the world so we are hoping to guide them and help them become responsible. Good luck!!!

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A.W.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I can understand your worry, as I'd also have some worries. Is it possible you and your son can compromise? I'd come up with some terms you both can live by and if you come to any agreement, put them in writing so he is clear on the rules. You can choose for him to not have internet on his phone and not have text messaging (he could still text so you would have to check the bill). If you are worried about him being in his room alone at night on his phone, then go ahead and have him give you the phone before bed. There are the pluses to cell phones as you can see on the bill who he was on the phone with and for how long. You can see if they called him or he called another person. You can also get cell phones that a parent programs to only call certain numbers the phone can call. My opinion is you can both win with the cell phone and some ground rules. Your sone is 16 and it is soon he will be making his own decisions. I think you need to give him some amount of decision power while teaching him cause and effect as well as right from wrong and responsibility. You don't want him going into the world sheltered. Now, I'm not saying you need to give him a cell phone, this might be something you feel strongly about, but I feel you do need to give him the opportunity to make mistakes and this is one that you could watch over.

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J.S.

answers from Salt Lake City on

A 16 yr old does not need a cell phone. When he goes out on dates or with friends, let him take yours or your husbands. That way you can check the call log and duration of the call. Teenagers didn't have cell phone when I was growing up. (I'm only 27) and I don't think that they need them now. My experience with who have them act rather rude and dismissive to adults.

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J.F.

answers from Denver on

Get him a phone, but there are ones out there that you can control EVERY aspect of it!
You can have NO texting and you can limit who he calls and who calls him.
Just be up front with him on what the phone is for... emergencies and that you are monitoring it every day.
The first time he goes beyond what the phone is for, it is gone...
Just do some research on which plan is for you. Trust me there are ways to get him the phone AND have control over it.

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S.B.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I think you're going to get arguments that go both ways. My sister has cell phones for her teen girls. The one was pretty responsible with it, but her older girl started getting inappropriate messages. My sister monitored all the stuff on their phones, so found out and talked to the boys' mother and got it all straightened out. She has since eliminated the texting for both because of the inappropriate one and also because her daughter went way over her limit and ran up a $150 texting bill. It is important to her to be able to get a hold of her children, so she has the cell phones. I see her point, but I do not see the need. My children are not old enough to even want cell phones yet, but my husband and I both feel that children have lived without cell phones just fine for centuries, they can continue to do so. They may have cell phones when they are 18 and can sign their own contract. I think it's just a matter of personal choice. I do admit that it's nice that I can call my nieces when I'm trying to get a hold of my sister!

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C.N.

answers from Salt Lake City on

J.,
I personally feel that cell phones can be very useful for teens. They come in handy for emergency phone calls. I would recommend if you do decided to give one to your son that you set ground rules about it. Texting can be a problem. Be clear what works for you and your son. Establish a budget that you feel comfortable with and make sure that your son understands the rules and the budget with both minutes and texting.
With my whole heart,
C.

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D.S.

answers from Denver on

My sister is still a teenager ( at least for 2 more months) and I don't think you're being too strict. I'm not much older.

But, I would say that yes, at 16 he should have a cell phone, BUT you should buy it and it should be a family line. You can then easily monitor how many texts he's sending, when he's sending them, when he's making calls and to whom. Early on you can ask who the calls are too and why they need to be made a 1am, but as long as you EXPECT him to be responsible, he should be since he's a good kid.
Otherwise, he could have bought a pre-paid one on his own and you would know nothing about it.
Our basic rules were no texting/ talking while driving. No calls/texts during school. And know what our minute /text limits were. If we went over, we paid for them.

Hope that helps.
D

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M.M.

answers from Pocatello on

I have three daughters in my house. Two of them, ages 12 and 14, have cell phones and have had for awhile now. They are very trustworthy, dependable girls and have done nothing to get them taken away from them. Before they got them we set up some rules.
1. I have passwords to voicemail and check it whenever I want.
2. I have access to look at the phones anytime I want, and do on a regular basis. (Don't want them to think I am slacking off!)
3. We are with Alltel, but most services have great texting plans, my girls get 1000 per month and unlimited texting to our my circle people. They have never gone over their texts.
4. They are allowed to talk unlimited on the weekends (unlimited free time), as long as homework, chores, etc. are done. They have never pushed our plan over our minutes.
5. We look at the online account for minutes used, text messages sent and received, etc. and make sure we are all in line to avoid pricey overages.

You can make the rules to fit your needs. I make the burden of responsibility fall on all of our shoulders and because they feel like they are part of the solution we have been two years free of overages or any troubles at all with the cell phone issue. If he is a mature, dependable son then I agree with him, he needs a cell phone.

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K.N.

answers from Denver on

I saw the other morning, I think on GMA, that there is a potential for brain tumors on the rise in kids with blame put on cell phone use. It has been reported that the skulls of kids are much thinner allowing the frequencies to penetrate more readily. The incidence in people 18 years and older was suspected to be not as high due to the greater degree of ossification (bone formation) in the skull in this age and older.

FWIW---it made me think twice about considering a cell phone for elementary age kids.

Best wishes.

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P.W.

answers from Provo on

My husband and I have texting turned off and you could do that. I think texting is rude and does not teach children how to talk to each other face to face (let along how to spell since everything's abbreviated.) My sister is always texting boys and she's not allowed to call boys, so it's kind of like skirting around the family rules, and being rude during conversations in person and in class. I know a family that has a common cell phone for the kids when they go places so they can call their mom, which seems very reasonable. Good luck, obviously this is a tough issue in some respects.

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M.H.

answers from Missoula on

I don't know if you are even still reading responses as you have receved so many.

I have a 15 year old son who we just got a cell phone for in Sept for his birthday. My husband and I utilize the texting feature so we set up a family unlimited texting as we have a shared family plan. We have Verizon and also use a feature where we can manage his phone usage on line. We can make it so that he cannot call or text during certain hours, such as school hours or late at night. He can only call me or his dad if he needs something important or the emergency 911 line.

We set up certain restrictions with it for the weekdays vs the weekends and also attach a grade stipulation to continued use of the phone privalege. My husband and I were totally excited to learn of the on-line control feature and it has really worked out well so far. I haven't fully explained all the options with this so if you are interested in learning more I strongly encourage you to call or go on line to Verizon, it made the difference with us deciding to get our son a cell phone.

I hope this is helpful.

M.

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C.E.

answers from Denver on

We have two children who are now 19 and 21 as well as two who are 4 1/2 and 7. Having "been there, done that" once already, here is my advice (for whatever it's worth!)...

Monitor the phone. You can track all the calls - times, to/from who, length..and all the text messages as well.

Get a limited plan and if they go over the plan minutes, they pay for it. If they can't pay for it - the phone goes away.

The phone gets turned off (not silenced - actually OFF) at a certain time each night and turned on at a certain time each day. - you could even have it off all day at school. By checking the records, you'll know if it was used during the times you've designated it to be off an it so - the phone goes away.

Any damage or replacing of the phone is their responsibility -they have to purchase a new one if necessary.

Since he is 16 and probably driving - it's a good way to keep track of him, but make it perfectly clear that if you see him using it -in ANY way - while driving (even answering a call from you without pulling over first)---the phone goes away.

So, that's my two cents - take ir ot leave it! :) -- Good luck teenagers are definitely challenging!

Many blessings -
C.

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C.Y.

answers from Denver on

My Aunt and Uncle have a great rule on this that I plan to use with my children (if I even decide that they can have a cell phone). They did finally give in and get the girls (who were 16 at the time) cell phones about 2 years ago. That allowed them to keep tabs on them when they were out and about.

Their cell phone plan has NO text messaging. If text messages or overages or any other unauthorized-in-advance-by-the-parents charges occur, the girls have to pay for it. Also, if the phone is lost or damaged and needs to be replaced, the girls are soley responsible for the cost of the new phone and must have the cash up front.

They were telling me a couple weeks ago that they've found with this approach that their children are more responsible about using the phone and taking care of their belongings than many of the other children in school.

And the girls (who are now 18) told me that they are actually grateful to have these restrictions because it has taught them to think before engaging in an activity.

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T.R.

answers from Nashville on

My 11 and 9 year old both have one. Mainly because we don't have a landline. We all just have cell phones. My kids have limit on how much texting/talk time they have. Both have to leave the phones in common living areas. This includes when they are talking to someone. I might give them more privacy on the talking when they are older though - but the phone will be in a common area at night for sure. So far they have been very good with it, they actually rarely use the texting feature, but I am sure that will change when they are older. Good luck on your decision.
tam

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M.K.

answers from New York on

you know you can get one of those pre paid phones that you pay as you go so it does not cost mom dad money

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M.C.

answers from Denver on

I say pick your battles. And for this situation, this is a new century of communication. Blocking him off from something this innocent, especially at his age is actually pretty sad. (no offense to you at all!) I know it's so tough to raise teenagers, it's one of the most difficult stages of life ever. Put yourself at 16, would you want a phone? Basically everyone has one unless they can't afford it. It enables you to always get ahold of him whenever you need, and likewise for him. Especially if he's in sports or activities.

As for texting, get an unlimited text plan, it's way to impossible to try to monitor how many texts he sends or receives. If your really worried about content, check his phone every once in a while. It's your right, you pay the service, he resides in your house, your the parent. Keep the phone out of his room if your concerned with late night phone calls.

As long as he's not drinking, doing drugs, ditching school etc, then I think a phone is least of your worries. Let him grow up in an age where technology is the key to survival (for these kids!) and like I said before, Pick your battles, luckily this one isn't so bad.

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D.H.

answers from Grand Junction on

I believe that kids should not have cell phones. I know that times have changed, but I have seen the problems that they create. My mother-in-law gave her cell phone (that's under my plan) to my niece for 1 wk before. With in 2 days she had racked up 500 min and $2.20 in text. With in the next 2 days she racked up 1400 text at .20 a text. She texted day and night, in and out of class. It never stops and it happens in school, while our kids should be learning. We all have done just fine growing up with out them, so can our kids. This is why I don't believe in kids having cell phones.

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D.K.

answers from Denver on

You know I see even Elementary age kids walking around with cellphones and it is ridiculous! I see if there was daycare or them going home by themselves the need for a cell in case of emergencies only. However, until he can pay for the bill himself, you set clear boundaries and rules around the cellphone I see no point. If he can pay it himself, why not? Teaches him early on to be accountable for his choices.
There are cellphones you can get that charge per text, that only allow like 6 numbers and so on. I would also have him check the phone out from you in the morning and back to you before bedtime. Tell him you will check the bill and if any calls or texts are made during school hours it is gone.

My 7 year old daughter has a friend that has one! It is crazy! Teaches them nothing about reality in my opinion. I told my daughter when I go back to work next year, I MAY allow her to have one with four pre programmed numbers in it so I can get ahold of her at daycare, make sure all is well and she can reach me. Otherwise she will wait until she has a job and can pay for the bill herself!

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