Cell Phone Dreams

My daughter, who is nine, keeps pestering me about a cell phone. 

 

As in, when can she have one.  As in, so many of her friends have them (so many equaling three, and they all have divorced parents who want to be able to call them directly). 

 

I keep telling her that we’ll discuss it when she’s older, because right now, I don’t really see the point of her having a cell phone.  I mean, who is she calling?  And where does she think she’s going all by herself that would require her to need to make phone calls? 

 

In what I imagine she thought was a subtle attempt to persuade me otherwise, she recently asked how old I was when I got my first cell phone.  Twenty-five, I informed her.  I left out the part about how that’s because they hadn’t been invented before then, because it was just more fun to watch her mouth hit the floor and the wheels spin in her head as she tried to come up with a different approach.

 

But then here’s what happened: we went skiing over winter break, and one afternoon we decided to ditch ski school and lessons and just ski together as a family, which isn’t something we do very often because we’re all at different skill levels.  My husband is an expert skier, my daughter thinks she’s an expert skier, I’m a fairly decent skier, but I’m slow and I’m scared of anything steep or icy or bumpy or crowded, and my son is somewhere between advanced beginner and crying every time he falls down, which is often. 

 

So anyway, we decided to ski together on a pretty basic blue run, which happens to fork off to another run in the middle of the mountain.  My husband stayed with my son so that he could follow his turns, I stayed behind both of them because, as I mentioned, I’m slow, and my daughter, who was frustrated and annoyed with all of us, took off down the mountain ahead of us.  And by the time the rest of us reached the fork, she was nowhere to be found.

 

Now mind you, my daughter has skied at this resort at least a dozen times, and it’s a point of great pride for her that she knows every run and every lift like the back of her hand.  She also wears a black helmet cover with an enormous hot pink and neon orange synthetic “ponytail” sticking out of it, so she’s kind of hard to miss.  My point being, that I was not at all panicked.  There were only two ways she could go, they both led to lifts, and we knew she’d be at one or the other.  So my husband and my son and I picked a side, which, of course, turned out to be the wrong way, because she wasn’t at the lift when we got to the bottom.  Still, I wasn’t panicking.  The three of us got on the lift with the plan that we would ski the same run again, except this time we’d go the other way and we would find her.  We asked the lift operator to radio over to the other lift where we knew she had to be, and ask them to look for a girl with a crazy pink ponytail and to let her know we were on our way.

 

connie1118
04.05.12

a phone that only calls mom/dad and maybe a couple friends would be good enough...NOT one with unlimited texting and the internet. The pay as you go phones are great for this, make her pay for the minutes out of her allowance. She'll learn that these things are luxuries, not always necessities.

JM
01.26.12

No she does not need a cell phone. 9/11 is over. Most of us got our kids cell phones with 9/11 and then everyone got them so your kid had to.So many of us could not contact our kids and worse they could not contact us. My bill for me and my 2 girls is $250/month as who wants a cell phone without apps as their friends all have them and they are ostracized for not having them. Don't get started on it at the age of 9; 14 will be here before you know it

happycampa
01.25.12

I was in the same situation a year ago and finally temporarily let me daughter, then 10, use a mobile phone (belonged to an Au Pair and was more expensive to cancel than to keep for 2 extra months).

I found that I came to rely on it and appreciated being able to communicate with and know her whereabouts with various carpools, etc., especially as plans change. In talking with other parents, it seems that the most common reason kids get phones is for the convenience of the parents, so if you don't need it, then for sure wait. But I can say that I see very little downside of her having it (besides the extra $9.99 per month). Kids these days don't "talk on the phone" with their friends. That's a behavior of a diff. generation. Now it's texts and IM's and maybe google chat. But mostly the phone is used for talking to parents.

sea-mom
01.24.12

We decided to get our 9 year old daughter a phone due to safety issues. Often coordinating pickup was an issue with extracurricular activities. We disabled text messaging and Internet so we do not have extra costs. 9.99 on family plan. She normally uses phone to call Mom, Dad or big Sis. Phone is turned off in backpack at school and her teacher knows she has it. No problems at schools and she rarely uses it when we are together. It's worked out for us, our biggest gripe- she forgets to charge it.

gemdeluxe
01.24.12

:-)

jennapalermo
01.24.12

I love the article and the reasoning. I have a 7yr old and she just started to request a cell phone and I have also told her no.

gooberchick
01.24.12

Excellent post. Thanks for sharing you experience! I can't wait to use your strategy on my 10-year-old twin girls!

mommydiva79
01.18.12

Great article! Such a creative way to avoid annoying requests!

MHBurts
01.10.12

Awesome post. I love that reasoning and will try to keep it in mind when it comes up with my son.