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.