Cell Phones and Teens

We agonized long and hard before getting our son a cell phone. He begged for years before we finally gave in. In the end, we decided to get him a phone last November for his 12th birthday.

It actually wasn’t really for him at all, although it was a lot of fun to wrap it up and hide it and then surprise him by calling it and making him find it.

But I really got my son a phone for me — for my peace of mind.

He was beginning to stay after school frequently for play practices and intramural sports, and I would often wish I could call and double check pick-up time, or just make sure he was there.

Plus I would drop him off at the ball field for sports games and practices and let my husband pick him up afterwards on his way home from work. I couldn’t see the field where he was practicing from my car, and I would always worry that perhaps we had the wrong night or they might end early and he’d have no way of getting in touch with me.

And then there was the night that he walked down to the church across from our development for youth group, and it was pouring rain when it was time for him to come home. I wanted desperately to be able to contact him but couldn’t.

I think that night was the final straw.

I remember laying in bed, with my two girls asleep beside me and my husband away at a meeting, while the rain pelted down, wondering what on EARTH I should do. I didn’t want to wake up the girls, but I didn’t want my son walking home in the downpour.

I wished desperately to be able to call and make sure he could get a ride home or to tell him to wait there until the storm passed or let him know I could come get him if I must. (In the end, he walked home in the rain and was totally unfazed. But my mommy guilt was fierce.)

After that incident, my husband and I started seriously discussing getting our son a phone.

We didn’t want him having unlimited internet access, and we didn’t want to pay for it either, so we opted for a feature phone with a slide-out keyboard for texting.

He loves it. And so do we.

I love being able to get in touch with him when he’s outside playing in the neighborhood or when he’s at the youth group or band practice or an overnight at a friend’s house. I don’t call him often but just knowing I can gives me great peace of mind.

Our rules are simple. We pay for the phone plan, and he pays for his texting. He is required to carry it with him when he’s away from us so he is accessible. (And he is required to answer it.) During school he must keep it in his backpack.

There have been several times when I was running late to get home to meet the bus, and I was able to text him and tell him to wait outside for 5 minutes and I’d be there, or to go down to a neighbor’s and wait. It gives us a great deal of comfort to know we can get in touch with him, and that if he needs us, we are only a phone call away.

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7 thoughts on “Cell Phones and Teens

  1. Thanks for sharing your rules! My daughter is still a toddler, but having some ideas in mind will help us decide later on. I definitely like the idea of having him pay for texting. My only concern, if I did that with my kids, would be feeling badly texting them and having them pay for the text(s) I send. Or is that not a big deal?

  2. We waited til my son was 13 but we are in a smaller area. He got a phone for ME as well. It had very little to do with his “want” and a whole lot to do with my “need”. He’s now almost 16 (omg) and he still has the same rules your son does – and no internet.

  3. When we got cell phones for our kids, it was also largely for my peace of mind. Much to my son’s dismay, his younger sister got her phone very soon after he did. (You can hear it can’t you? “That’s not fair! I was two years older than her. She should have to wait, too!”) Since I was working at the time and my son was no longer at the same school as his sister, she was walking alone at times and I needed to know that she was okay.

    We opted for the Unlimited Texts from the get-go because that’s what we heard about how kids communicate and it’s so very true. In addition to the kids and I, we also have my husband’s parents on our plan. Although we visit with them on the phone nearly once a week, we get texts from them, too. They are little snippets of communication that we might not otherwise have with them.

    Our rules have been more along the lines of etiquette. They are often hard to enforce because we’re not always with the kids and I don’t think other parents have had these same conversations with their kids. Ex. Do not give “Sarah’s” phone number to “Ryan” without Sarah’s permission. No texting after 9 PM on a school night. This has been very hard to enforce! There is no more respect for quiet time in the morning and the evening. Anyway, those are just a few. 😉

  4. So glad it has worked out so well ! If you have a kid with a good head on his shoulders and parents who are involved and push self-responsibility, it really becomes a non-issue. Ours was more for our piece of mind also.

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