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Preteen - is a cell phone a neccesity? - Page 2

post #21 of 110
Originally Posted by nd_deadhead View Post


I don't think kids "need" cell phones, but I can see where they would make parents feel more comfortable at times.


I think this statement is pretty much the line between people who live in urban areas and people who don't.  If I was living now in the town I grew up in, where there is no public transit except the school bus service that runs door to door for every kid up through high school, and we had a land line in the house, and DH and I didn't both work full time, I wouldn't feel that my kids needed phones.


We gave up our landline the day that the line fell to the sidewalk across the street, and the phone company told us it would take five days to get it repaired.  I live in a city where kindergarteners are routinely assigned school bus stops half a mile from their homes.  I have arranged for my elementary school child (age 6) not to be on that bus, but if he was on that bus, he would carry a phone now.  Twelve year-olds in this city take the city buses to school, and I will want my child to have a phone when he reaches that stage.

post #22 of 110
Originally Posted by nd_deadhead View Post

My neighbor, a high school teacher, told me a story yesterday about a young teacher at his school. He was complaining to my neighbor that he needed to contact someone, but wasn't able to do so because his cell phone was dead. Neighbor said "Dude, there is a telephone in EVERY room in the school!" This young guy was so stuck on his cell phone that using a land line simply did not occur to him.

If I were the young guy in that scenario, having a land line available wouldn't help because I don't know anyone's phone number anymore -- they're all stored on my cell phone! redface.gif I swear, that thing is like my brain's external hard drive.
post #23 of 110
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by limabean View Post

If I were the young guy in that scenario, having a land line available wouldn't help because I don't know anyone's phone number anymore -- they're all stored on my cell phone! redface.gif I swear, that thing is like my brain's external hard drive.

LOL! This is so me! I can't remember anyone's phone number at all.
post #24 of 110
Originally Posted by MeepyCat View Post


I think this statement is pretty much the line between people who live in urban areas and people who don't.


Funny, I live in the "outlying suburbs" and I feel like my kid needs a phone in part because we're so rural, lol.  There is no public transit so if her ride flakes she's stuck wherever she is, there aren't a lot of businesses that might have a phone she could use in an emergency, etc.  We do agree that phones are potentially very useful for teens/tweens, though.


And as I wrote above, my kid does not have a fun phone with apps and a camera and a data plan and all that good stuff.  She has a plain phone that talks and texts and doesn't really do much of that since I'm only willing to pay for the minimum number of minutes.  It's not a distraction or an amusement.  It's purely functional and it has come in very handy in situations that weren't quite *emergencies* but had the potential to go bad.

post #25 of 110

We got one cell phone for the kids to share when they started becoming more independent. One of my kids has special needs, and the notion that she is going to *ask* to use someone's phone, be quickly able to figure it out (they are all different) and then remember my number was just more than I was willing to wager on, so handing her a phone, programming the numbers in, and making sure she knew how to use it made sense. Our other DD is a totally different kid, but there have been lots of times when I am quite happy for her to have a phone with her -- such as spending the night at a friend's house who we don't really know the whole family. Yes, this is about me feeling safer letting her have freedom, and no, she has never needed to use it to get an emergency ride out of a bad situation, but I'd rather give the kid a phone and freedom than to limit her ability to move about OR make myself crazy with worry.


When we got to the point that the needed a phone at the same time, we got another phone.


We have a family texting plan, and I love it. I love it that we all so easily can let each other know that we are running late, or need to pick up something from the store. Is it a need in the true sense of the word? no, but it sure is nice.

post #26 of 110

Okay, I see my point of view is unpopular, but maybe this is worth mentioning: The times when I am "relying on strangers to provide assistance" and "dependent on others' goodwill" are extremely infrequent, have never seemed to annoy the people, have never made me feel the slightest bit at risk, and generally increase my faith in humanity and sense of interconnectedness.  I live in a relatively friendly city where cell-phone thefts are not very common, and I'm apparently a non-threatening-looking person, so I'm sure those are factors.  But honestly, the last time I borrowed a phone from a stranger was more than 3 years ago; it's just so rarely necessary to make a phone call away from home or work.  My child has never borrowed a stranger's phone; where I mentioned him borrowing a phone to ask permission to go to a friend's house, that's the friend's parent's phone--and if the friend's parent didn't have a cell phone, he's surrounded by other parents and older kids who do (people he knows, not strangers) or it's possible to go into the school and use the phone in the office.


It's true that by occasionally borrowing a cell phone I am taking advantage of the fact that other people are willing to put their $50/month or whatever, their electricity, their diligence in carrying and maintaining the phone, etc., toward their having that phone that I can borrow.  I don't want to pay for and bother with that myself, so maybe it's wrong for me to ask them to share?  But a lot of people don't carry Band-aids with them at all times, and I do, and if I see someone who just got a small injury I'll stop and offer them a Band-aid; that seems like about the same kind of thing, and I don't resent it in the slightest; I actually like helping.  My impression when I've borrowed phones is that the people felt good about getting a chance to help someone.  If I'd encountered a lot of resentment or suspicion, I wouldn't be considering this a viable option.


I didn't say that the strategies that allowed all of us to survive in the pre-cell-phone era are BETTER than using cell phones, just that they still work and I don't think using cell phones is always better than using those other strategies.  In particular, a lot of people I know these days do not make plans about when and where to meet, assuming they'll locate each other using their phones--and then if there's no cell service in the area or a phone goes wrong, they're completely lost.  As for not knowing anybody's phone number, that idea terrifies me--what if your phone gets lost or stolen or broken, and you can't contact anyone you know?  Nothing to LOL about, I think, but I guess I'm just afraid of different things than you are.


Clarification: My child doesn't go to the PARK alone.  He stays in the schoolyard playing with his friends for a while after school, then walks home, sometimes alone and sometimes with his friend who lives across the street.  He and his friends like to go to the park after school on Fridays, but they always have parents along for that, and we expect to keep that up for another couple of years.  However, if I saw a 7-year-old in that park alone who was not causing any trouble or in any distress, I certainly would not call the police about it.


It seems to me that problems like JollyGG detailed are the fault of organizations that are supposed to be supervising children and taking them places in a predictable manner, failing to do it correctly.  I can understand deciding that you want your kid to have a phone so you can avoid the confusion and worry that result, but even so I think it's crucial to ALSO expect and demand that the bus company (or whatever entity is being irresponsible with your child) get their act together.  (It's great that your son's principal was directly involved in resolving the problem and took a strong stand.)  It bothers me that I hear some parents these days assuming they can't expect that, for example, a coach who decides to end practice early will stick around until all the kids are on their way home, or that if their child is going to a friend's house they don't dare ask for the friend's parent's phone number in case they need to reach their child.


I have commuted by public transit every workday for 16 years.  For more than 3 years my toddler/preschooler and I rode 2 buses each way every day.  Yes, I sometimes get home later than expected because of transit problems--or a tree fallen across the road or some other obstacle between work and home--and once in a while that causes significant inconvenience, like we're late getting to some evening activity and I didn't get any dinner before it.  That's life.  A cell phone wouldn't get me home any faster; it would only let me tell my family to go ahead without me--a convenience, not a necessity, and something they can decide to do at a certain point without my contacting them; they can leave me a note.  We are pretty good at not worrying when someone is a little late.  Again, I think it's a matter of what you choose to fear.


I do agree that if there is no land line in your home, your kids need a phone if they are home alone, in case of emergency.  Same thing with living in a dorm where there is no land line.

post #27 of 110
I don't feel cell phones are ever *necessary*. Phones are not *necessary* - food, water, shelter, warmth, and love are necessary. But, cell phones are very useful. The extent to which that is true, and the age, is different for each family. It's totally possible to get by without one, but no reason not to if it would make your life easier.

We bought our oldest a cell phone when she was 12. Her other mom doesn't always have a phone, either landline or cell, and we didn't want to be unable to contact our daughter for days at a time. Now we don't have a landline, and I wouldn't want to leave the kids home without any kind of phone at all.
Originally Posted by MeepyCat View Post

If my neighbors saw an unescorted 7 yo at the park, they'd call the cops. So would I.

Wow, where did that come from? No one in this thread said anything about sending a 7yo to the park alone, and even if they did, what's up with the judgment when you yourself are talking about giving your kid more independence by giving them a phone?

If that's how you respond to a child playing in a park, I hope you stay out of my neighborhood, where kids as young as six (mine and others) enjoy the park without adults all summer and all weekend. Of course, if you did call the cops on my kids, they and CPS would probably say the same thing they did last time, which is that we did nothing wrong, and they wish people would stop overreacting so resources could be focused on kids who actually need them.
post #28 of 110
Originally Posted by EnviroBecca View Post

As for not knowing anybody's phone number, that idea terrifies me--what if your phone gets lost or stolen or broken, and you can't contact anyone you know?  Nothing to LOL about, I think, but I guess I'm just afraid of different things than you are.

Well, I exaggerated a bit -- I know the phone numbers of a few close people. It's just that I don't dial numbers anymore (I just tap a contact name) so the numbers don't stick in my head like they used to. I also keep a physical address book at home, and my cellular contact list backs up to the cloud, so I could access it from any computer. But if I needed to get a hold of a specific non-close person, like the parent of one of DS's friends, and my cell phone got stolen, I was away from home, their number was unlisted, and I didn't have access to a computer, yeah, I'd be unable to call them. But that's not really different than it used to be in the old days -- you wouldn't typically carry your address book around with you, so phone calls to those outside your inner circle would have to wait until you were home.

That said, I think you make a lot of good points. My kids don't have cell phones (but they're only 5 and 8), and I have no intention of getting them phones any time soon. The whole "I'll call/text you when I get there so we can meet up" annoys me, although I do see its usefulness. I hate having to have my phone handy so that someone can give me a play-by-play of their drive instead of us just setting a time/place and me assuming there's a 15-minute window to allow for traffic, etc. I don't need 7 texts explaining that you're leaving, oh wait the littlest one had to go potty so NOW you're leaving, ugh there's traffic, oh wait it seems to be clearing, by the way should you pick up some snacks, you forgot change for the toll booth so you had to go the long way, and now you're pulling up. And after all of that, you still get here within the same damned 15-minute window during which I would have expected you anyway!!!
post #29 of 110
Thread Starter 
All my phone numbers are in my google contacts list, so I can get them from The Cloud or wherever Google keeps them from anywhere if I lose my phone.

I've never been good at remembering phone numbers, or any numbers. I mix up the digits all the time. I have trouble with PINs too.
post #30 of 110
Cell phones are pretty much required for my work. I hate talking on the phone, I'm not sure I could even be friends with someone I can't text lol
post #31 of 110

My 13 year old has a prepaid cell that gets 100minutes per month.  If she goes over and I don't have a way to reach her, she must put minutes on with her own money.  If she doesn't have money, she must do chores to earn money to put minutes on.  She's had it about a year now.  It doesn't do anything other than call or text.  It doesn't have any games and she really has to watch her minutes so she doesn't go over so she texts infrequently.  I got it originally because of all the places she's been going without me recently like after school programs, walking to the bus stop alone, helping watch her sisters for 15minutes or so and we don't have a home phone.  This summer I've tasked her with watching her two younger sisters(8 and 5) for 10-20 minutes every morning while I drop off two children I watch at camp.  It's less than 2miles and so I feel safe doing that only if she has a way to contact me.  There are strict rules of course but having no home phone I wouldn't feel safe leaving them alone.  The phone has also been great for times she wants to ask me last minute if she can attend an after school program or when I am stuck in traffic trying to get home to get her off the bus.  

post #32 of 110
My 13 year old does not have a cell phone and it has never been a problem. He takes the school bus to school - a couple of times the bus has been delayed and I got a text from the school system. When he is not with me, he is usually at school (with teachers/phones), at sports practices (with coaches/phones), at a friends house (with adult supervision/phones), or at our house with our landline. He does have an IPod and he uses it to text his friends because texting seems to be how they make plans and he bought it with his own money and there is no montly expense because it operates off of our existing wireless. A couple of times he has gone to the frozen yogurt place or generally riding his bike around the neighborhood and I gave him my phone. Honestly, my husband who commutes into DC from the suburbs on the train everyday for nearlyl 20 years has only had a phone for a couple of years. We will get him a phone next year for Christmas so that he has one going into high school because I do think that he will have more social freedom and that it will be convenient for afterschool activities. I don't roll my eyes at anyone who has decided it is convenient, but I do sort of roll my eyes at the idea of it as a necessity.
post #33 of 110

Dylan just got his first cell phone; he's 15.  His sister got a smart phone and gave her old phone to Dylan.

post #34 of 110
Michelle, the 7 yo at the park thing was a response to EnviroBecca's first post on this thread, and really wasn't about judgment. It was intended as a partial illustration of the fact that different things are safe and appropriate in different places.

Like EnviroBecca, I've commuted via public transit for my entire working life. My experience differs from hers, however, in that if a bus breaks down here, they kick you off to just wait for the next bus, even if that's not scheduled for a long time. There are plenty of places where, if my teen or preteen was off the bus there, I'd want to get a cab and go get them. There's also a big difference in my reaction when dh or another adult is delayed, and my reaction when a child I'm responsible for drops off the radar for a few hours. The cause may be the same, but my reaction is not.
post #35 of 110

I think, in most cases, young kids getting cell phones is the result of parents being willing to pay for the convenience and peace of mind that comes with being able to contact a child directly. As others have said, it's a benefit to the parents as much as it is the kids.


I have nothing but respect for EnviroBecca's stance on the issue. Clearly she has reasons for not wanting to have cell phones and so she has found ways to get around it. All families have different values, and I do believe it is entirely possible for kids to get along without them. 


Me, however, I love technology and anything that makes my life simpler. I have no issue with kids using smartphones, etc. and I see how they use it as an issue that is more about where the child is at than the fact that they have a phone. My daughter just turned 11 and we are going to get her a cell phone because she is now engaging in activities where it would be handy for her to be able to text us and she is a pretty responsible kid. It is more for my peace of mind than anything else. She will be required to pay for some of it, probably the data plan since I want to be able to phone and text her. And that is because it is a good life experience to do so, good practice for having bills to pay, etc. 

post #36 of 110

I also think a 'preteen' at 10-12 is different than a child at 7-8 getting a cell phone.  At 7-8 my kid wouldn't be responsible enough for a phone but at 10-12 he is just fine with it.  He has way more freedoms now that he is older etc.

post #37 of 110

With pay phones and land lines in general becoming rare, I can see cell phones for any child old enough (as defined by the parents and local/state laws) to be without supervision either at home or in public.  It just was a non issue with our girls simply because when they were children, land lines and pay phones were the norm.  We still have a land line at home (it's my work phone) so Dylan being home alone wasn't an issue.  But last year, Dylan started needing to use other people's cell phones to contact me so we said yes when his sister offered him her old cell phone.  All of our cell phones are on pre-pay plans.  Dylan and dh can text on theirs but mine can't and none of us have internet access. 

post #38 of 110

As a parent you must weigh in the health ramifications of cell phone use by children and teens. Yes, they are convenient and there is a safety element involved. However, excellent independent studies and even some industry funded studies have shown that cell phones are causing cancer wherever they are held. The World Health Organization classified this radiation a possible human carcinogen based on an increase in lethal brain tumors associated with mobile phone use.

So while your may think you are keeping your child safe by giving them a cell phone, you may be jeopardizing their future health. And children and teens do absorb more of the radiation that an adult. The American Academy of Pediatrics has expressed their concern recently as have many doctors worldwide.

If you do give your child a cell phone it should be with strict stipulations. They should use it only for emergencies and they should never hold it to their head or keep it on while in their pockets or bra. Read the user manual with them as each one does say that in order to not exceed the exposure limit the phone should be held a certain distance from the body. The iphone now hides that info in the phone and does not give the consumer a manual! According to Pew Research 87% of teens sleep with their phones under their pillows or near their head- THE PHONE SHOULD BE TAKEN OUT OF THEIR ROOM AT NIGHT.

Many countries have banned the marketing of cell phones to children; some have banned the use. The United States is far behind as they continue to allow industry to call the shots. Similar to GMO labeling- we want the hidden warnings posted at the point of sale so that parents can make informed choices for their families. The telecom industry is vehemently fighting this and unfortunately because they have money on their side, they are winning.

So, please try to strike a balance. And stress to your children about how things they use now can affect their health in the future. Brain tumors have a long latency period. Please err on the side of caution. For more info go to www.ehtrust.org and www.cabta.org. We do not advocate against the use of this valuable technology- we do advocate for the industry to make safer equipment and for our government to step to the plate also- this is a ubiquitous device used by millions and as advertised and used now they are not safe.

post #39 of 110

I decided to pass on my obsolete but functioning Nokia phone to my 8 year old when she started catching the bus to and from school.  For two reasons: if the bus breaks down (and it has) and is left stranded and secondly, if she's ever in a situation that she finds uncomfortable, she has the peace of mind that I'm just a phone call away.  It is pre-paid, and I top up the account every 12 months.  It is not turned on and it is just there if she needs to use it as precaution.  She's not permitted to call her friends or use the credit for any other purpose than in an emergency.  It is a comfort to me to know that she can reach me if she needs to.  As she gets older, we will be more relaxed with how she can use it, but as a 9.5 year old, I think this arrangement works well for us. 

post #40 of 110

My older two are 12.5 and almost 11 and I am considering either getting one for them to share or one for each of them.  Future shop (Canada) has a basic pay as you go phone on sale for $30 right now so I could pick 2 up very cheaply.  My son (the oldest) doesn't really have need of one bc he doesn't do any lessons, someone always drives the kids to school (private school 20 minutes away), and he isn't allowed to walk through the neighbourhood by himself but I wouldn't feel right about getting one for his younger sister and not him.  My oldest daughter is involved in tons of activities (competitive gymnastics, choir, theatre, student government, etc) and it would be very beneficial for her to have one.  It would just be a basic phone for sure - no texting or internet access.  They are going into 6th and 7th grade and I have told them when they get to highschool I will get them a phone with texting and data.

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