Friday, October 9, 2009

Cell Phones, Tweens and Texting

Last year when my daughter entered the 6th grade. She asked me for a cell phone and I said no without blinking. I thought what does she need one for I pick her up from school and the activities she does after school are all very short. I never leave her at a mall or the movies by herself. Not to mention I barely use the one I have. Most of the time I forget it at home or if I do have it, it's dead because I forgot to charge it. The bottom line is I just don't get cell phones.

Well Christmas came last year and again she asked for one and my husband and I said no. I know we're mean, but as I said I just didn't get the point. She went back to school after the Christmas break and she was so grumpy and I asked what was wrong. She said everyone got a cell phone for Christmas and that's all they're talking about. Well that's a typical tween answer for anything they want. You know "everyone has one, but me." I wasn't believing it and so we went on. Then one day when I was waiting for her to come out I started to see one after another flipping out the phones as they walked out of school. I was shocked. I couldn't believe they really did all have cell phones. Then she went to a friends birthday party and all they did was play with their phones and talk about them. Well I hated that she felt like such an outsider for not having one. Yes, I know it's peer pressure and I shouldn't feed into it, but I felt badly. I started to ask the other parents and yes they had gotten them cell phones for Christmas. I guess it was the new cool toy.

Lucky for my daughter I'm not unreasonable and her birthday was coming up so. My husband and I revisited the idea and we thought she could get one so we caved. We got her a cell phone. We're not the first parents to cave and I'm sure we won't be the last. Not only did we get her a phone we got her a cool cell phone which is probably outdated by now, but it's better than mine. We have Verizon so we got her the ENV2 which is a texting phone. I figured if she's going to have one she might as well get a good one that has a GPS locator and all the other cool stuff. She was so surprised and so happy to receive one. We made her year and her life apparently. Did we do the right thing by caving? I don't know, but my daughters a good kid she works hard in school and helps around the house so if we have the ability to give her something she really wants I don't see anything wrong with it.

Now onto texting. I think it's important for any parents to know if they're getting their child a phone they should know that they are going to want to text with it. You should always get the unlimited texting. If you don't get the unlimited texting you're going to end up with the biggest phone bill of your life. Luckily when we got her phone we immediately signed her up for unlimited texting so it wouldn't be an issue. Some of her friends parents weren't so lucky. One of her friends told me she got in big trouble because the bill came and she had run it up to $350 from texting. Now that's not even that bad. I've heard of other bills that go well over $1,000. Bottom line you either pay an extra $5.00 a month or a ridiculous amount. Tweens love to text. I've seen some of my daughters messages because I keep an eye on what she's up to. Most of them are 3 words or less. So please if you are thinking about getting your tween a cell phone get unlimited texting. Save yourself the aggravation.


Rocky Mountain Memoirs said...

My daughter started 6th grade this year and her father got her a cell phone. At first, I didn't think she'd use it that much, but she does! And since her father and I are divorced, it has been nice to be able to call her on HER phone while she's at her dad's. I don't have to talk to him every time I call, which is nice. Also, being able to text her and her older brother nice little notes when they're at their dad's is a great way to let them know I'm thinking of them without interrupting their time with their dad.

aldon @ orient lodge said...

Well, it will be interesting when our littlest one gets a cellphone. She is already lobbying for one, and she is only eight. Yet we come from a slightly different family. My 19 yo and 16 yo both have cellphones, and the 16 yo now has unlimited texting. I'm a technologist so I use my cellphone extensively, and I'm always looking for interesting ways to extend the functionality. My wife is an organizer who uses her cellphone nonstop.

I write a lot about emerging trends in technology and heard one report that the average age that American children get cellphones is 10 years old. I think the biggest factor for me will be whether or my little one is showing enough responsibility so that I don't need to worry about her losing it.

In terms of unlimited texting, I think you are right on the mark on this. The average American teenager sends 75 text messages a day. It is part of how they stay connected with their friends, and I believe is an important part of social development. That said, there are many important lessons to be learned such as when it is acceptable to text or not. As a general rule, texting from the dinner table is not allowed, and the dangers of texting while driving is often spoken about.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a cellphone is more than just a device to use to talk or text. They often have games, programs, music and a camera. I have my cellphone set up to send pictures directly to Flickr, Facebook, and of course, my wife. Yet there is a danger in this for teens, when they send inappropriate pictures (sexting).

So, I encourage parents to get out and get cellphones for their children. Spend time learning about all the possible features and talking with your kids about these features and what the acceptable boundaries are.

My two cents for now.


Clairity said...

My 16yo and 13yo share a cell phone. ALmost all of their friends have their own phone but my girls don't mind sharing one. They don't use it much. My 16yo does some texting, not much and my 13yo almost none at all.

Kat said...

My 9yr old had his phone because of a 1-account-3phones promo. At first I wasn't sold he needed it, but later I found it was very useful, especially in coordinating schedules with me and advanced notices of stuff he needed in school. (As soon as the teachers assign items to bring to school, my 2 sons text it to me immediately. Pretty handy especially if these are impossible items that have to be brought immediately the next day.) They're good kids and the phones don't really disrupt the daily routine, so yes, cell phones are really part of daily living now.

Whiney Momma said...

I think cell phones seem to be a tween's best friend these days. I don't know any kids nowadays around that age that don't have one either. I always said I'd be steadfast to only get one for my kids when they absolutely need it but I can just imagine that peer pressure. And we all want to ensure our kids don't get teased unnecessarily. It's a hard line...but there will always be some bridge to cross.

Frugal Vicki said...

I hate it, but these seem to be the "thing" these days. I guess not so worried about it until they start driving, even with all the new laws. It is just so scary with all the "sexting" issues that are coming out. Sigh. why can't it be easier?

Joanna said...

Is it an invasion of my 10 and 12 year old's privacy to check their text messages?

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