Oh, how quickly they fall.
A few months ago we talked about cell phones & kids on the KOAB Facebook wall. (I wish I could find the link because that was an awesome and informative discussion. Anyone save that chat?)
Even though many parents I totally admire and respect said that they got their children their first phones in 6th or even 5th grade, I’ll admit now that I was all smugly positive that I’d never get my kids a phone before *at least* their Bar Mitzvah.
Part of it was money (not a small part, mind you). And part of it was concern that giving a phone to a pre-teen would lead to his being over-screened and possibly over-entitled.
But then we moved. And instead of being homeschooled (and in my line of site 20 hours a day), our children attend a brick and mortar school.
And at that school, my 6th grader landed in a class of 21 boys,
he is one of only two boys who doesn’t many of whom have a phone. (Edited to Add: I clarified this with him and some friends this afternoon. Apparently it’s not that 19 kids have a phone — only about half have a phone. Most, however, do have some kind of device – such as an iPad or iPod.)
My ever reasonable husband suggested that perhaps my hard-line against cell phones for kids might need reconsideration. “He’s new, Mara. He wants to fit in. That doesn’t mean we have to throw our values out the window. But you need to be sensitive to what that feels like to an 11 year-old boy. Plus, he’s got away-games for sports and goes lots of other places by himself now — which means he is often away from us, without any way to communicate, other than borrowing a friends’ phone. It’s not like there are pay phones all over the place anymore these days.”
Darn. I hate it when he’s right.
Of course, the Kosher-on-a-Budget-refuse-to-fall-prey-to-keeping-up-with-the-Joneses in me still wants to run for the cell-phone-free hills. Or, at the very most, buy him a 5 year old, refurbished flip phone.
Despite these instincts, though, we’re actually considering giving him my unlocked iphone 4 when I upgrade later this fall to an iphone 6. It would still be one of the older phones among his friends (in a nod to the no-keeping-up). And technically it would be free. Since we already own it.
But an iphone? For an 11 year-old? I’m still not 100% reconciled to it. (Heck, I didn’t get my first iphone until I was 40!)
If we do decide to do this, however, here’s what we’re looking at:
- We’d add him to our AT&T plan, which would be $25 per month for the service.
- We’d block data, so he doesn’t run up our meager 2 GB limit.
- We’d make him sign a contract about reasonable and responsible usage. If he violates the terms, he’d lose his phone for a week. If he violates it a second time, we’d shut off his service.
- We’d also make him “earn” the fee for his service plan. We’re thinking that would mean shoveling our front walk in the winter and moving our lawn in the summer. (Truth be told, we’d be coming out ahead – since we often outsource those “services”, for far more than $25/month.)
Life was easier when he was five.
So, that’s where we’re holding. Conflicted, but considering our options.
I’d love to hear from you guys on this issue: Do your children have cell phones? How old were they when they got them? What plan do you have them on? What restrictions do you put on their phone usage? Did you make them sign a contract? Let’s talk down in the comments section!