Mommy, I Want a Cell Phone

My 10-year-old daughter, who turns 11 this summer, has noticed that a lot of her friends have cell phones.

“Mommy,” she says. “I want a cell phone.”

I wish James and I didn’t have cell phones. Every time I hold mine up to my ear I think of Ted Kennedy who died of brain cancer. Every time I multitask—talking on the phone while exercising, which is something I love to do, for example—I think of how Thich Nhat Hahn and other Buddhists believe that we should be where we are in any given moment, mindful of what we are doing instead of distracted by other things.

Though I held out for many years and I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, I like my cell phone. I appreciate that I can reach my husband while he’s traveling. I like that I can catch up on phone calls and go for a bike ride at the same time. I feel safer knowing that my kids can reach me wherever I am by just dialing a ten-digit number.

I am deeply divided about cell phones, though. When my battery recharger was misplaced and I couldn’t use my phone for several days, I noticed that the quality of my life, and my focus, improved.

There is little doubt that cell phones are bad for your health.

As Alexandra Grabbe, who writes Chezsven, a blog about living on Cape Cod and running a Bed & Breakfast in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, mentions in her post today, the forward thinking city of San Francisco will require cell phone manufacturers to put warning labels on cell phones because the radiation emitted may be harmful to your health.

Despite the powerful lobbying groups trying to keep this information underground, we know that cell phone radiation is harmful and we know that cancer in the United States is on the rise.

We also know that texting and talking on the phone while driving is responsible for thousands of car crashes a year.

There are many reasons to worry specifically about children having cell phones, as this mom points out in an article from last year in the New York Times: the cost, for one thing; downloading inappropriate or even illegal material onto the phone from the Internet; playing video games on the cell phone; texting at night instead of sleeping.

Maybe it’s time for me to model better behavior for my children and turn off—or get rid of—my cell phone…

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11 thoughts on “Mommy, I Want a Cell Phone”

  1. Thanks for linking to my post, Jennifer. We need to discuss such things in blogs since the media shies away from anything controversial related to health. Moms need to get the word out.

    As I wrote in my post, my ex had access to inside information, since he worked for the cell phone industry in France, say 10 years ago? And, even then the industry already knew about the risk of brain cancer but its policy was to keep mum.

    I can only imagine what a tough move it is to make to give up a cell phone once used to the convenience. I admire anyone who succeeds, especially where children are concerned since holding the phone to the soft tissues of the developing brain cannot be a good idea. I worry about my granddaughter who will soon feel the same pressure from her peers to have a cell phone as your daughter.
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..Hurray for San Francisco! =-.

  2. Every time I talk on my cell phone, I think about the health implications. But it’s really hard to give it up. I make sure I use a wired headset so the phone is not resting against my head. I wonder if you’ve considered that option?

  3. I almost never use the “talk” feature of my phone. 😉 It’s all texting for me (which I never do while driving). For me, it’s a safety net. My home phone auto-forwards to my cell. I am out and about all day long taking someone somewhere. If one of my little someone’s gets hurt at school (which has happened many times) and the school calls, I immediately get the call. I do not have to worry. If my car breaks down (has also happened more than I like to admit) and my kids are with me or I have to pick someone up, within minutes I can make necessary calls and get it handled. The text feature is SO handy for me and my husband. I really don’t know his schedule by heart and don’t want to call when he’s in class. So I can text him, “Please bring home milk tonight” and he gets the message when it’s convenient. My eldest (12) has a phone. I resisted but it was necessary when he had so many sporting practices that I couldn’t stand around for–so I knew that if it got cut short or he was hurt, he could contact me immediately.

    The other benefit is that he’s not a talker. And when he texts me during the day saying, “Hi Mom.” or “How is your day going?” I instantly get a huge smile. But I have to admit he’s not a classic tween and many times the phone is just sitting on his desk.

    Anyway, long winded comment as a “pro-cellphone” person. But I have to admit I almost never use it to talk (and the radiation does make me anxious).
    .-= Claudine´s last blog ..Quick Summer Dessert for Your Next BBQ! =-.

  4. I have a pay as you go phone. It’s rarely charged. If I’m going to need to be accessible to my kids, I’ll make sure to have it with me. But as for making calls? Rarely do I use it. I’m worried about the people who have switched over to ONLY cell phones, giving up their land lines.
    .-= Kris Bordessa´s last blog ..Baking Portuguese Sweet Bread in the Traditional Way =-.

  5. When I’m in the US, I use a cell phone more often, though not really that frequently. When I am in Japan, I don’t at all, and I rather enjoy that. My son asked again just yesterday for a cell phone, but he didn’t ask very hard, because he knows what my answer will be. Some children here have them, because they walk to school by themselves from age 6 (my children included), but many schools have banned them because they open children up to cyber-safety issues. I do see the convenience factor for the children I know whose parents work or split custody.

    Here’s a recent article in the NYT that talked about children and cell phones but neglected to mention the radiation issue.
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..Back home =-.

  6. slippery slope, and texting worst of all! Still, nothing like them for rendezvousing, though, like at an airport when you forgot to make a plan…

  7. This has been a big dilemma for me as well. We did ditch our land line and home internet this year because it was just redundant. My daughter is seven and carries a phone (husband’s old one) on days when there is a change in the usual schedule for school/work. If we are using mass transit, she needs the phone because it is a 20 minute delay if we miss a connection. If she is on a field trip or on a playdate, I like her to have the phone in case of emergency. So far, she has been quite responsible with it. I did have to remind her once not to text the work phone, or send me pictures from recess 😉

    For increased radiation safety, we just don’t do a lot of phone calls and we don’t carry the phones around with us everywhere. I would not ever use a headset, because I won’t put any electronic device into my ear. Glad to see more people finding out that just because a product is everywhere and used by many people, it doesn’t mean it is safe.

  8. A cell phone is my only phone. However, I’m not much of a talker and prefer the email/text function. When I do talk on the phone, I put it on speaker mode which eliminates having to hold the phone to my ear.

    Just because you use a cell phone does not mean that your children should have one. I don’t think you are modeling poor behavior to your kids. If it were me, I’d tell my kids that cell phones are for adults and that they aren’t a play toy. But, then again, I was considered a mean mom when my children were growing up.
    .-= Donna Hull´s last blog ..Saturday

  9. I have a serious love/HATE relationship with my cell phone. While it can make life easier, I hate talking on the phone. My blood pressure goes up when it rings and I feel like people just won’t leave me alone, so I usually just ignore it. Silly, I know, but I feel much more relaxed when I’m in a place where I can’t use it. The computer functions, on the other hand, have changed my life. Being able to look up directions and other information on the fly is awesome.

    And when I got my hair cut the other day, my hairdresser’s 8 year old was running around the shop for the day. That child has a brand new iPhone! My hairdresser can barely make ends meet, and her kid has a $200 phone? Seriously?
    .-= Stephanie – Wasabimon´s last blog ..Simple Birthday Joys =-.

  10. I think of cell phones as useful tools, and just because you have one doesn’t mean your children should. I mean, would you let your kids use a chainsaw or a jackhammer?

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