“The Family Plan” marketing strategy for cell phone users is impressive. Cell phone companies make it sound like each person in your entire family must have a cell phone. My kids would probably be thrilled if we (their not-smart-in-the-least-bit-parents) bought into this marketing-mayhem, but we just can’t. This question has yet to be answered:
Do kids really need cell phones?
They may. But they may not. Consider the following statements parents give regarding cell phones for their kids.
My kids have to have a cell phone so they’ll be safe.
If your kid is getting kidnapped, abducted, or attacked having a cell phone in their procession is not going to keep this from happening. You may feel better or more in control but that alone is not a reason to have one. GPS on a phone means you’re not the only one who can track your kid. And, can you say “helicopter parent?” What happened to trusting your kids? How about kids letting parents know where they are or where they’re going? What about communication, expectation, and trust? How about making a plan and sticking to it? NOT providing a cell phone can present the opportunity to develop these skills.
I need to be able to reach my kids and know where they are at all times.
If your child puts their cell phone down somewhere, and you can’t get a hold of them, do you know where they are? Kids get busy doing things and don’t have their phones on or with them, and what happens then? How about if they just don’t answer the phone? What if they answer and tell you they are somewhere they are not? In most cases, there’s a phone around (at the minimum their friends have one…). Can kids call from school? From a friend’s house? Do you call and check in with the parents of where your kids are going?
My kids need to text their friends.
Really. They need to text? Everything in moderation. Kids also need to have face to face communication skills. Are you making sure that is happening between your kids and their friends? What about kids and other adults? What about phone skills? Can your kids answer a phone call and take a message with pen and paper? Are they learning good phone skills? Face-to-face communication and good phone skills are still required in the working world.
Why shouldn’t they have a cell phone?
Phones and phone service cost money. Children can learn responsibility and planning ahead if they’re not so reliant on the ever-present cell phone. What if they lose their phone? What if they drop it and it breaks? What if there’s no coverage? We need to teach kids to conduct themselves regardless of technology. We all survived childhood without these so-called “necessities” and are still able to use our thumbs for texting and searching the internet on very, small screens.
Kids need to learn independence. They need to grow up, leave home, and live in the world, without parents hovering around. They need to learn basic communication skills and not be told by companies with savvy marketing campaigns how their lives should be run. Kids should have to, at the very least, contribute financially, toward the privilege of having a cell phone. With privilege, comes responsibility. That’s one lesson I hope we can all agree on.
What do you think? Do your kids have cell phones? Do your kids need them?
Go Gingham related links:
Parenting: Children’s Allowances
Social Networking and Parents Behaving Badly
Piano Lessons – they’re an indulgence at our house – time and money
Time tested family rules - who knew these would work?
Take the night off and let your kids cook dinner every week
Our weekly ritual - Technology Free Sundays