Parenting Sucks!: The Great Cell Phone Debate

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jkimesBY JOANNE KIMES

Dear Joanne,

Many of my daughter’s friends have cell phones and she wants one too. What do you think about kids using cell phones?
Lisa

Dear Lisa,

Since you didn’t mention how old your daughter is so I’ll give you my broad opinion. I think cell phones should be given on a need to use basis. Notice I said “need,” not “want”. The whole cell phone thing has gotten out of control. I’ve seen kids as young as elementary school age sporting iPhones and rhinestone studded blackberrys that most grown-ups would covet. And I gotta ask why? They can’t use them in school, they’re very expensive, on the most part the kids don’t deserve them (more on that later), and where do the parents go from there when it’s time for another gift?

If you need to get a hold of your child, or your child needs to get a hold of you, go ahead and get a cell phone. For their first phone, I suggest the ones that don’t require an expensive contract. You just buy minutes and when they’re done, you buy more. (check out Firefly.com for several good options). For safety, get a phone that only allows your younger child to make or receive calls from a list of numbers that you’ve pre-programmed.

After the novelty of making calls wears off, kids then want to text (often to kids they see twenty times a day in school or to those sitting right next to them that they can’t be bothered to actually speak to!). To me, the idea of kids texting is crazy, and potentially hazardous. Not only can benign messages be misunderstood and cause tremendous playground drama, but anyone can send your kid a text and you’ll have no control over whom it’s from or what the message contains.

Kids also want phones with internet capability which allows them world wide access to world wide trouble. Assuming you have a computer at home with internet access, your child does not need to go online while they’re out. If they can’t log onto their favorite yogurt shop while they’re at the mall to check out the daily flavors, I think they’ll live.

On a final note, if your kid is desperate for a cell phone and you feel that they’re old enough to handle it, don’t be afraid to make them contribute towards the expense. Either they’ll backpedal when they have to help foot the bill, or they’ll do extra chores or odd tasks around the neighborhood and will learn the valuable lesson of earning things and deserving them. Don’t you just love win-win situations?

Joanne Kimes is the author of the bestselling “Sucks” series as well as “The Stay-at-Home Martyr.” Visit her at www.sucksandthecity.com.  Got a parenting question? Email Joanne:  jkimes@sbcglobal.net

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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