Why do kids 'need' cell phones??? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 02:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, I am only 38, not that old and I REALLY do not understand why kids need cellphones. I didn't have my own cell phone until 6 years ago at the ripe old age of 32. Somehow I managed to get through life.

I see so many parents that have issues with cell phones. It definitley seems like more trouble than it's worth. There are enough issues with pre-teens and teenagers adding cell phone abuse just seems to be fueling the fire.

My oldest is 14. He plays sports, goes to a public high school and has friends. Of course he wants a cell phone but he doesn't have one yet. I know where he is at all times. I know the phone numbers of his friends houses. I know when sports practice begins and ends as well as his Sunday night Life Teen.

Don't get me wrong I'm not condemning anyone who gives their kids cell phones just like I don't condemn anyone who has video games or other gadgests. I just don't see the need and it seems to create so much drama. I managed to get through my teen years without a cell phone. Heck, I got through my 20's without a cell phone

When DS asks when he can get a cell phone we tell him he can get one when he can afford to buy his own pre-paid phone. We wouldnt' even consider having him on our plan. He is a good kid and has never given us cause to be concerned BUT I'd hate for him to get the phone, charge up the bill and then we'd have to deal with the consequences. I just don't have the energy. Seems so much easier to just say no until he can buy his own.

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#2 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 02:11 PM
 
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Convenience. We live in the city, both parents work, and we don't have a car. I give my kids more freedom than seems to be the norm on MDC. The cellphones allow us to keep in touch, change plans if we want, and I feel that they contribute to safety.

If my dd 13 needs to get a taxi to or from an activity, she can call a cab easily. Then, when the cab comes, she phones me from the cab, and gives me the medallion # and driver name. I feel that any driver knowing that he has already been indentified is highly unlikely to try anything inappropriate.

So far we haven't had any problems with gigantic bills or inappropriate cell phone use.
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#3 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 02:34 PM
 
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I love for my kids to have a cell with them. We appreciate the ability to be in touch quickly. It's convienent. Right now we only have two cells and Dh takes one with him, but the kids take mine with them a lot when they go somewhere so they can call me (on the home phone) if they need or want to. We hope to get the kids their own soon. We haven't had any issues at all with abuse.

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#4 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 02:42 PM
 
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I'm a single parent and both of my kids are actively involved with in and out of school activities. If there's a change in plans, someone's running late (or early), a bus doesn't show up (or breaks down), etc - it's convenient for us to be able to touch base. They've had phones for 4 years now (prepaid) and I've yet to have a problem with excessive or inappropriate use.

My daughter was on a bus once that broke down. I was at work (just started a new job). My son was expecting her to be home, and called me when she didn't show. I couldn't rouse anyone at the bus garage or at her friends'. They got cell phones the next day.
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#5 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 02:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's good to know that you guys haven't had any problems I guess people only post when there are problems

I have been on a city bus that broke down so I know it happens but back in the olden days one would just walk to a pay phone to let their parents know they needed help and then walk home if they were not available. All through high school I rode the city bus to school, work and home and sometimes it meant I had to do a lot of walking between bus stops or if the bus never came or broke down.

I guess my pressure comes from my kids and part of it is peer pressure on me too. I'd say about 75% of my high schoolers friends have cell phones and I have to justify to him why I don't feel they are needed. We live in suburbia so I think that makes them even less necessary.

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#6 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 03:00 PM
 
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Just reading this thread out of curiosity as it's not an issue we'll have to deal with for a while, but I wanted to comment that it's much harder to find a working payphone nowadays that it was in the past.

Mommy to two boys, ages 4 and 6.

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#7 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 03:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kerikadi View Post
I have been on a city bus that broke down so I know it happens but back in the olden days one would just walk to a pay phone to let their parents know they needed help and then walk home if they were not available.
There are FAR fewer pay phones now that there used to be! With the lack of working pay phones, I feel best with them having a cell phone with them when they are away from us.

For awhile our kids had cell phones, but they just didn't use them enough to warrant the expense, so now they just take mine. Sharing works fine for us. When the get to the point that sharing becomes a hassle, we'll get them their own.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#8 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 03:18 PM
 
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I figure it's easy enough to customize the features on a kid's cell phone to eliminate the possibility of abuse, so no reason not to have one to use for emergencies once they get old enough that they're spending a significant amount of time on their own away from home.

That said, I was terrible as a kid about calling home even when pay phones and the phones at friends' houses were easily accessible, so I don't think having a cell phone would have made me any more reliable or let my poor mom worry any less!

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#9 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 03:20 PM
 
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Yeah payphones are harder these days to find. Even if there were just as many as there used to be I would still prefer a cell though. Easier.

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#10 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 03:25 PM
 
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Hi Keri!

I'm a single mom of three and I got my oldest (almost 14) a cell phone a year ago. She has a prepaid TracFone - the original purchase was $20 and I've put another $25 worth of minutes on it for her, and she has enough minutes to last another four months or so, I'm guessing. She's involved with volleyball and band, so she has something gone on every day of the week except Sunday. Her dad is not at all involved, so she has to be able to get in touch with me at any time. Does she "need" a cell phone? Probably not. But I need for her to have one for the sake of my sanity. I have three different kids in three different schools, and knowing she has that phone really eases my worries.
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#11 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 03:25 PM
 
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My dd is 17 and I've never had a problem with cell phone use. She doesn't have one anymore but that just only because she wasn't using it at all so I got tired of paying the bill I just give her mine if she needs it as I'll either be home or with dh and he has a cell for work.

I liked her having one in case she needed a ride home, or in case plans changed ect.

ITA the reason you see all the problems is that those of us without problems don'[t have any reason to post about them
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#12 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 03:48 PM
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Rain has had her own cell phone since she was 10. It's never been a problem, and we haven't had a landline for years. She's not in school, so she's out and about in the community a lot more. I don't want my kid to have to ask someone else to borrow a phone, and be dependent on their good will - I want her to be empowered to take care of things herself and run her own life. I really appreciate that I can call her when I'm running late, or plans change, and she can call me for the same reasons. I'm also glad she can talk to people long distance for no extra $$$. If she were ever in a situation that made her uncomfortable, again she would be empowered to call me, or another adult, or 911, without having to ask someone if she could use his phone.

Most of Rain's friends have cell phones, without any problems. I think the posters here are the exceptions - if it's going well, there's no reason to post about it.

Dar

ETA: What Arduinna said... if it didn't take me 20 minutes to write a post I could have saved myself the trouble!

 
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#13 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 03:54 PM
 
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I also bought my daughters a cell phone for being honor roll students....it was 2 for one deal. They are 13 and 11 years and they were thrilled with it for the first month. Now they forget about it and leave it off or forget to charge it. It hasn't affected the quality of their ( or my ) life as much as some kept saying it would.
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#14 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 04:11 PM
 
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We'll be getting my DD1 a phone with our service provider for her 11th b-day next month. She's in 5th grade and still goes to school in the neighborhood so either I, DH, or her BM pick her up, but next year she'll be riding a bus to junior high. She's been going to lots of sleepover/after school extracurriculers laterly too.

Also neither house she lives in has a land line, and she's at the age where she likes to communicate with her friends. She mainly e-mails but we restrict her time online, so she's been begging for a phone.

The phone we're getting her has the option to pre-program in the number of minutes she can use, and which numbers she can call. We're going to allow her to put a few friends onto her contact list, but once her minutes are up she can only call us or her BM since we all use the same service provider, and get free mobile-to-mobile minutes. She'll also have a pre-set number of txt messages she can send/receive.

Also, the phone has a GPS on it, so we can find her if we need to. Love that.
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#15 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 04:20 PM
 
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I don't yet have a teenager, but I taught HS before DD was born, and I'm only 27, so I actually got a cell phone when I was 18.

I don't think kids *need* cell phones at all. I absolutely see how parents like for their kids to have them - it makes the kids available at the touch of a button 24/7. So, when a kid is running late for curfew, they can just call and let you know what's going on. If you're running late to pick him up from a practice or whatever you can call and tell him. If he remembers that he needs something he forgot at home he can call and tell you....

However, I also see how they get abused in a school situation. I regularly had "good" kids using their cell phones during my math classes. The school district rule (and we live in the same area, if not district, I'm in your API group, though we've never met) was that during the school day phones were to be turned off and in their lockers (meaning that any time I saw a cell phone in my room I was supposed to pick it up). I regularly had kids and parents mad at me because the child was "just talking to my mom". : In the middle of Algebra, the child should have no need to talk to mom unless there is an emergency situation. This was the good kids. We also had kids texting friends for fun, taking pictures of tests to cheat, etc. It was a serious discipline problem at the school, even when the kids were staying within their plan minutes and such.

Of course, not all of the kids with cell phones were behaviour problems. I found that the students expected each other to use the phones during the day. It's a real social issue if your friends are texting you and you have to be strong enough to tell them "I don't text during class".

Just my 2 cents.

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#16 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 05:08 PM
 
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well, I'm THAT MOM who "had issues" with the cell phone.

I got by without one, too, but we had payphones and my parents knew my friends and their parents. Life is very different in 2007 in the city. I want my kids to have cellphones so I can reach them when I need to, so they can call when plans dramatically change, and so if they encounter a problem while moving from one place to the next they can call for help.

We've had a big issue with flagrant abuse. We took the phone away which consequently takes much of his freedom away, he is working off the bill and when it is paid he will get the phone back with some new restrictions built in. Kids screw up (especially teens), that doesn't mean it "isn't worth" teaching them how to responsibly use a cellphone or other privlege so it is an asset to our family life and sanity. It means I have a bigger job of making sure it is handled well.

I dont care if you give your kid a cell phone, buy him a Lexus, or make him earn everything outside of board and food. But I want to keep my kids safe, in touch, and give them the ability to learn to be responsible adults.
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#17 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 05:34 PM
 
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I don't think they are "needed", but sure have made life easier on many people. I technically don't need one either, but I think it is easier than a pager.

When I was in high school, cells were just becoming more affordable, but still almost no one had one, at least in my community. (1999) But I can think of so many times when it would have been a wise thing to have! Twice in the winter in MN I found myself in a ditch, once I hit a dog with my car and had to walk to the nearest farm (after dark, in November, MN, didn't know the people) to call my dad to come and help me with the car, quite a few times when my parents had to guestimate when our bus would be coming in from an event and either they wouldn't be at the school yet, or they would have been sitting in their car for over an hour waiting.

My kids are too little for phones now, and won't need them for awhile, but once they cross into a time when it would make my life easier for them to have one, they will get one.... probably a prepaid one.

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#18 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 06:29 PM
 
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I got my kids cell phones because it made me feel better - that's the long and short of it. My best friend in high school went out on a date with a "nice" boy and was driven out in the country and told "Put out or get out". It was a LOOONG walk home, and I never wanted my children to be in a similar situation.

Less dramatically, our phones have been handy when the kids were on bus trips, and could call and say they were 20 minutes away from home, giving us time to be at the school waiting at midnight. Now that they drive, it is great to know they can contact us if they run into trouble, and it is really nice to call and ask them to bring home a loaf of bread!

If my kids abused their phones, I would take them back and only dole them out in emergencies, but mine have been responsible users.
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#19 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 06:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
There are FAR fewer pay phones now that there used to be!
Good point.

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#20 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 06:36 PM
 
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Here is the other spin on it. We don't have a landline at home. So, when my dd (who is 9) wanted, last year, to start staying at home by herself a bit - an hour or so when I am at the grocery store, there was no way to do that. Why? Well, if I left her my cell, then she couldn't call me, she would have to be able to find the grocery number, have me paged, etc.

ABsolutley if she is staying by herself, she needs a way to call 911 or me or whatever. So we added one with limited features to our plan. Guidelines are she can call only those people listed in her phone book. She doesn't answer a call unless it comes up as listed in her phone book. That sort of thing.

Now, we haven't hit the phase of extended phone use yet by her. But it is a safety issue at home as well as outside, if you see what I mean.
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#21 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 06:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I can definitley see how it is helpful when you don't have a land line. That isn't something we would consider where we live. We are far enough inland not to worry about a direct hurricane hit but the last time we had a major tripical storm most of the cellular services were down, not so with land lines. I know people that only had cell phones and they couldn't get service for days and were obviously without a phone to call family to let them know whether they were ok. So it isn't something that had crossed my mind.
Thanks for all the replies it does help me see how they are more 'necessary' for some families.

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#22 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 06:51 PM
 
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I had one as a teen, one of the only people I knew at the time (I'm 26). It was mostly for my single mothers sanity after I started driving She still always knew where I was and everything, but it gave me a lot more freedom and her a lot more ease of mind. She had a long commute, so she could call from work to know what I was doing after school if I wasn't home. I could call the home phone and leave a message for her that she could get from work. If traffic or weather was really bad and I was going to be much later than we agreed to, I could call and tell her where I was and what was going on. It was Much easier on her to know that I was passing exit 12, but due to the snow I'm only doing 25mph on the highway so will be an hour late on a typically 25 minute drive, than to only know there is this massive storm and her daughter isn't home after work when expected. Or if a movie ran later than expected, or after a concert I stopped to get food, or if plans changed at all I could let her know.


My son is much too young for me to think about this yet, we'll evaluate when he gets older, but that was my experience as a teen who had a cell phone.
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#23 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 06:53 PM
 
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They don't.
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#24 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 07:03 PM
 
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Because bad stuff happens to good kids and a cell phone can mean the difference between life and death, not being raped, kidnapped, etc, etc. Cell phones, as horrible as they are for bees, are IMO, one of the best inventions ever.

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#25 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 07:14 PM
 
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It's funny how times change.
Pagers were the 'cool' thing in high school when I was a teenager.
Payphones were everywhere.
I lived in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, so the public transportation was a great thing, and I had a bicycle for getting around.
Lots of biking and walking for me.
I didn't need a cell phone. I didn't even have one in my 20's, either.
I have one now, but only pay $1 a month plus tax and I have a landline.
As a SAH tandem-nursing momma, if I have the van, and I'm on the road, I enjoy the security of knowing I have a cell phone in case of emergency.

I just don't see how a teenager needs one.
I can see it is certainly a convenience, and easy, for some families, but I don't see it as a necessity.

I was in so many after school activities: Track & Field, Swim Team, Marching Band, Earth Club, Amnesty International.
I was a busy teenager, but I never needed a cell phone (but they didn't exist, anyway).

If you feel your teens could use them and will be responsible with the cell phone, and you can afford the luxuty, then why not.
My daughters are so far from being teens, so I can't possibly know if I would allow them or not.
In fact, cell phones may be extinct by then.

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#26 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 07:31 PM
 
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They don't.
: Not only that, the jury is out on whether they negatively affect the developing nervous systems of children/teens.

http://www.vote.com/magazine/editori...l1653001.phtml

http://www.commercialalert.org/issue...ll-up-research
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#27 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 09:02 PM
 
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My two have them for my peace of mind, and sometimes for theirs. A couple of times I've been late to pick them up and they've just called to find out how far away I was. Sometimes the bus runs late and they call to tell me they won't be on time. We have not had any abuse problems because we told them if they use them improperly the money will come out of their savings accounts.

They don't know it, but I've never forgotten the news stories about the kids from Columbine who used their cell phones to call 911. I won't scare them with a recap, but it makes me feel a little better knowing they have the phones just in case they need to make an emergency call of any kind. Odds are we'll not encounter that particular situation, but if anything happens where my kids feel like they are in danger, I want them to have the option of calling for help.

But the reality is, they don't need them so much as I need them to have them.

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#28 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 09:29 PM
 
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I can't imagine not having cell phones. I think they are one of the best inventions, ever!. My older teens use cells, and they have been worth their weight in gold. DH and I hace often laughed at how we ever go along without them. Some families may not 'need' them (although ours does) and there is no reason to have something one doesn't need.
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#29 of 160 Old 09-07-2007, 09:36 PM
 
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I can definitley see how it is helpful when you don't have a land line. That isn't something we would consider where we live. We are far enough inland not to worry about a direct hurricane hit but the last time we had a major tripical storm most of the cellular services were down, not so with land lines. I know people that only had cell phones and they couldn't get service for days and were obviously without a phone to call family to let them know whether they were ok. So it isn't something that had crossed my mind.
Thanks for all the replies it does help me see how they are more 'necessary' for some families.

Keri
Yes-- if your family doesn't have the need, your family doesn't have the need. No issue.

I'll throw this in: We have friends in NYC, and even younger children have cell phones. But trust me, if my kids went to school in Manahattan and was taking public transportation home etc., I would be thinking about ways to attach cells to their bodies. I don't think there is a parent in NYC, given that hey are always goin to be a 'Ground Zero" , who doesn't want their child to have a cell phone, or immediate access to one.

Sometimes we forget that our particular needs do not extend to other people. We can all decide for ourselves what our personal comfort communication levels are, kwim? You don't need to justify your decision to not give your kids cells, and I don't have to justify our family need to make sure our teens have cells. End of story, that.
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#30 of 160 Old 09-08-2007, 02:03 AM
 
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We just gave a cell phone to our teen around his 15th b-day this past spring just before he went on a trip to Boston with his religious ed class. The peace of mind for me alone is worth every penny. I knew I could reach other kids or the facilitators on the trip, but I wanted to be able to reach him directly. He rarely asked for a cell phone before that, but we knew he wanted one, we were just trying to figure it into our budget. He has been very responsible with the phone, and I am grateful that he has it. I think we will get ds2 a phone around age 13. There have already been times that I wished he had one.
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