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When Do Teens Need Cell Phones?
There are three types of people in this world: people who are late, people who are early, and people who show up at 1 minute past the designated time.

I am the latter. I am never early because what's the point? There's too much to do! So I time everything down to the last detail, so that I can leave at the last possible moment. Hey, you can always throw another load of laundry on, right?

I know the schedule for all the traffic lights in the area. I know which ones to avoid at what time. I don't even take the same route around town, depending on the time of day, because it may shave off a minute or two. I'm a little bit neurotic.

But I'm also rarely very late.

My daughter is early. She is always early. It drives her nuts that I don't want to leave when she is ready, even if I'm ready, too. This throwing one last load of laundry on is completely beyond her comprehension.

So she is extremely responsible. Nevertheless, that does not always stop her from being late. Such is the lot of teenagers.

Let me explain.

Last night was Youth Group night. Our junior high daughter was with friends at
church, but our senior high daughter wanted to go with friends to the mall (they were accompanied by an adult). We said sure. They said they'd be back at 9:00. We should have known better.

So we dutifully showed up at 5 to 9 to collect said senior high daughter, but she wasn't there. We waited for a while, and then decided to go get gas. We got back, and still no Becca.

Then Keith's cell phone rang. They were running late, and she gave us instructions on where they were. We picked her up. No problem.

It wasn't that she was in any danger, it was just aggravating. We knew she was with responsible people.

But at what point should we take the plunge and get her a cell phone? She should have just called us the moment she knew she was going to be late, but she doesn't have a watch, and she was relying on someone else's cell phone. That someone got talking to someone else (hence why they were late), and she didn't want to interrupt.

She really doesn't go off on her own around town very often, but I'm wondering if maybe it's time. Or perhaps we should just get her a watch so she knows what time it is! But that's not always that helpful because she's not the one driving, so she's not the one who determines whether they'd be late or not.

I'm not particularly fond of cell phones. I have one and I hardly ever use it. We never use up all of our minutes. I just use it for emergencies, or if I need to check in at home while grocery shopping.

Teens, however, as soon as they have them, seem to be on them all the time. They text people constantly (HIYEEE :) :) :)). It gets really annoying.

So any advice? What have you decided, those of you who have teens? And most importantly, how can I do this cheaply?

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At 11:22 AM , Blogger Tara said…

Here's my idea. When Teen can pay for a cell phone, Teen can have a cell phone. And, since Teen is still under my roof, cell phone usage can be dictated by Mom. :) If cell phone becomes a problem, Teen loses cell phone.

Our household has one cell phone. DH usually has custody of it. If I'm going out for the evening I take it. I would say that if Teen is going out for the evening, Teen could take it with her.


At 1:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

My husband and I only have cell phones, we do not have a lan line in the house. It worked out to be cheaper this way. We have not encountered this dilemma yet with our children since they are only 3 and 1. We know that it will become an issue eventually though. Fortunatly since my husband used to work for Nokia he knows a lot about cell phones. There are many different plans these day that are geared for just this situation. I don't know which service provider it is, but one of them even has a way to give your teen minutes the way you would an allowence, and you can adjust the minutes online very easily. Then there are always the pre-paid phones. You give the teen a certain amount of minutes and when she goes over that then she needs to pay for more. You can also set up the phone so that it can only call certain numbers, your cell, home, etc... and can only receive calls from those same numbers. That helps limit the time spent on the phone.

I would also bet that if your daughter is already pretty responsible that she would also be responsible with the phone.



At 1:53 PM , Blogger pedalpower said…

Our kids wanted cell phones and we added them to the plan under the condition that they pay the extra dollars a month each it was going to cost. It cost us about 15 extra a month per kid. We also have a ton of minutes each month that never get used....however, I told the kids that if we reviewed the bill and it looked like they were spending too much time talking on the phone the would lose the phone. It came with texting too....but you could go online and turn that feature off...which we did.

We've always been big on nice phone manners, but we also ran into some things we never anticipated....when we got the bill we could see that dd was making and receiving calls late at night. So we had a talk with her about phone manners (which apparently are nonexistent anymore with the cell phone set)and when it is unacceptable to call someone. Then we had them start leaving the phones downstairs on the desk at night.

All in all it worked out well. The added bonus is of course that they can call us at any time to let us know where they are, change of plans, etc. And if we need too we can get hold of them quickly. Oops...that is another rule...if Mom or Dad is calling, you BETTER answer.


At 6:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

We are still working through this also.
Our oldest, at 14, does not have a cell phone. There have been occasions when it might have been helpful (like the time she was dropped off at flute ensemble rehearsal at night, only to find that her groups wasn't in the right room, and she couldn't find them, so she sat in the dark for an hour until she was picked up! yikes!).
But I can't help thinking that *I* didn't have a phone when I was growing up, and travelling to and from school a long distance, and going out with youth group and such, and I survived!
Not having a phone can teach them to be creative about managing a situation - actually needing to think through alternatives, and manage other people (to borrow a phone), or find another way to get out of a situation, or contact home. That hour in the dark was probably not fun, but it was an experience that she has learnt from. And she was quiet safe (other music classes around her).
I like that she can't just 'phone home' to be rescued.
I like that she needs to wait for an email response to a question to a friend (really! When I was growing up it was snail mail!!), rather than expecting the instant gratification of a text or phone call.
I like that she isn't clocking up large bills through all those texts or calls.
I like that she isn't tempted to stay up late to make or receive messages, or even just waiting around 'just in case' someone tries to contact her.
I like that she is still somewhat dependent on us for a little longer.
At some point, we may allow her a phone, with strict boundaries. But for now, I just don't see it as an essential item :)


At 7:03 PM , Blogger Karyn with a Y said…

I've worked in the cell phone business for many many years. Well, not *that* many.. but 8 or so.. Every year the children, and yes I mean childre are getting younger and younger who get phones. Each year it always surprises me to see just how young they can be. I think the youngest has be 7 that had a phone. And I mean a monthly service plan and all. Now really, who does a 7 year old need to talk to? If I can't keep up with my 7 year old then ~I~ have a problem!

Another common occurance is when teenagers run up the bill. I kid you not, one 15 year old boy sent 15,000- yes THOUSAND text messages in one month. That comes out to be about 500 a DAY! A DAY?! Does this kid not go to school? Does he eat, sleep or shower? I just can't get over that. Have we really lost that much control over our "kids". I hope not. I have a ways to go before I get to that point.

Although, my 3 year old does know how to take a picture with my cell phone.

My stance on when to get a phone.
1. When the child can pay for it themselves; be it a pre-paid plan ot monthly service plan.
2. When they begin to drive and I NEED to know when they are coming home. Those types of things.


At 8:48 PM , Blogger Jen said…

Kids and phones...we have never been big on the phone addiction phones in kids' bedrooms here, that kind of thing.
We'd seen and heard the horror stories with teens and cell phone bills as well and have remained hesitant.

Last year when our oldest was 15, became our intro. to teens and cells.
He was involved in football and basketball at school and worked a part time job, which he was some times done early or late at depending on how busy.
It became a matter of our sanity to give him a cell.
He pays anything above the basic of being on our plan...and had to learn just how expensive texting and browsing fees can be; but he is a very responsible kid too, and we have had no real issues.

The next oldest (12) thinks he should have one, but until he is in high school where the schedules really do get insane...we won't even discuss it.

He'll need a job by then as well, so that he can cover the expense if he wants one.


At 11:31 PM , Blogger Tracye said…

I have to say, just about every single teen I know has a cell phone. It's a little ridiculous. I say as long as they're responsible, give them one. I would probably make them pay for a portion of the service cost (since they'll be calling their friends far more than calling me!) and ALL overage charges. If they can't, they lose it.

My daughter was in kindergarten last year. My neighbor's son (in my daughter's class) got a cell phone for Christmas. My daughter told me he got in trouble because he was calling his grandpa during class.

Can anyone give me one good reason why a kindergartener would need a cell phone??? We can see the school from our house, so it's not like he doesn't know the way home. Not to mention the fact that his mom or grandpa pick him up each day.

Now that's ridiculous!


At 8:53 AM , Blogger Dena @ Green Acres said…

My kids have had cell phones for quite a while, however with them came strict rules. You see, we live out on a farm and around here kids can get a driving permit to drive to and from school at age 14 (after taking driving classes). I don't like the idea of them driving alone without a phone in the event of an emergency. Also, we had a medical issue where my son wanted to call me from school, but the teacher wouldn't let him. But, they can go to the bathroom anytime they want, no questions asked. This issue resulted in us being in the ER later. Therefore, he had one in his backpack from 2nd grade on so he could call me if it happened again, but it was given to me as soon as he got home from school.

I do think in todays times they are a valuable tool. But yes there do need to be restrictions. Although, I have seen adults texting during church, so I guess irresponsibility isn't just a teenage thing. :)


At 2:30 PM , Blogger Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said…

Don't have time to comment extensively, but we have decided to not allow cell phones for our teens. They can be a valuable tool, but they also open up the door to poor choices and a drain of time...similar to the computer...ha ha. Since they are still working on balancing their computer time, school work, sports etc, we aren't adding cell phone to that mix untill the rest are all in order. Fun topic.

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Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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