An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wanted: Advice

So here's the thing: our oldest will start high school in the fall and to commemorate this event (his words, not mine) he wants a cell phone.

Here are his reasons:

  • he is the ONLY one in the 8th grade without one
  • he doesn't want to be the only one in high school without one
  • he can't talk to his friends because he can't text (insert my mental eyeroll)
  • he is responsible and mature (insert another mental eyeroll)

After discussing this at length, my husband and I agree that he probably does need one . . . not for his reasons, but simply for the fact that he will be at another school next year and with carpooling between two different schools it would be nice to communicate with him if I am running late (not that I ever am, mind you).

Here's my question: what advice do you have when giving a teen his first phone? We don't want him to turn into a texting fiend, we don't want him to be calling and/or taking calls at the dinner table, and we don't want him on the phone when we're on a family vacation.

So, advice anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller . . . Bueller?


:o) mg said...

Well, even though you've already decided to do it, I just wanted to tell you that he isn't the only kid now nor will he be the only kid at high school without one.
Number 1 never talks on the phone here at home, so unless I want her to get into the habit of mindless texting - which I'd rather her not.
Also, I figure the longer I can hold her attention without it being drawn to some device, the better off our family is.

Amy Jo said...

Both of my girls have phones. They do both have unlimited texting, but no Internet and their minutes are limited. They basically do not talk on the phone except on weekends. They do not use it after 9 pm. They are plugged in to charge and are not to be used until after school the next day.

It is extremely convenient to have though. Because they are both involved in so many school activities, communication is so much easier with a phone. I would imagine that your son will become involved in something at school, and you will probably find that it is definitely to your benefit to have it.

We just try to limit the use to the several hours after school until 9. They are not allowed to have it at school anyway. They can only turn it on after school.

I will be happy to add my son when the time comes and he is old enough. I think then we will get rid of the house less bill! :)

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Most schools do not allow phones during the school day, but this rule is routinely broken. Don't count on a school ban to keep him from texting during the school day.

Are you planning to put him on your family's plan, or are you going prepaid? It's easier to limit his use with prepaid. You pay for what he would need for occasional phone calls and texts; if he goes over that, he can pay.

I agree that no use after 9 is a good idea, as is no use during meals or other family time.

Or you could say that, since everyone else has one, he can just borrow one of theirs in an emergency!

We use 3 prepaid phones for our household - one for my husband, one for me, one for kids in general. Whichever teen is out has the phone. We may have to bump it up to 4, as sometimes both teens are out at once (separately). We'll give our college-bound son his own (prepaid) phone this fall. Once we see how many minutes he uses over the year, we'll maybe think about a contract plan.

Every single cellphone contract (aside from prepaid) that I have examined is a total ripoff. The only way they come close to being worth the money you pay is if you (or your teen) is doing a lot of texting - more than I'm betting you would think is good for him. Watch out for the hidden fees!

From what I have seen and heard, groups of tweens/teens stand around with each other and they are all texting. I do not call this positive social interaction. I would urge your son to find people to hang with that do not do this.

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El) said...

I thought it was important for my son to have a phone so I could reach him. When I bought him his first, I said, if you ever don't answer this when I call, there will be a consequence.

As for texting, my son (who is now 22, but still a fulltime student) does way too much. For a while we had a plan with some texting included, but he now pays for his own.

It's such a weird thing--in one call they could hammer out all the details, instead he and his friends text back and forth...

Thanks for reading my bad haiku! Too fun!

Kim H. said...

OH MY WORD! I'm gonna say it again. OH MY WORD!!!!! Bia, girl, have I so been here.

We allowed Madalyn to FINALLY (in her words) get a cell phone after she finished 8th grade.

And let me just say this -- she WAS NOT the only 8th grader in her class to NOT HAVE one -- NOR was she the LAST high schooler to get one.

All that being said -- we started with a pay-as-you-go phone. She had to be responsible for purchasing her minutes -- which she really didn't use -- it's the texting they want.

It allowed her to have to be responsible for when her minutes would expire or run out. She had to plan to have money when she needed more texting minutes (or whatever they're called).

She had to buy the new phone when she "dropped" hers on the bathroom counter. (Bad hair day -- she got mad -- and WHAM-O! Right in that moment she sobbed like her life was over.)

Anywho -- she is not allowed to text at the table EVER.

She has to turn it off when we have company. She's not allowed to have it out when we're visiting at someone's home. She may not carry it around on vacations -- she can check it once or twice in the evening, but other than that, it's put away.

She can't text on the way home from school -- because well, then we don't get time to talk to each other.

And it's a great little thing to take away when you need to go there. And I know that sounds awful, but she'd almost rather loose everything else before her "social hotline." So, for us, I think she's finally gotten it's a priviledge.

Let me just say too as a Mom, it has come in handy LOTS OF TIMES. If she didn't have one, do I think she'd be okay? Probably.

Would she ever be stuck somewhere and not be able to get a hold of us? Probably not. ANY decent mother out there would let a child in need make a phone call.

And again, where would we be dropping our kid that wasn't safe? Hopefully no where -- although I do periodically threaten to boot her out of the car -- but that's a whole nother story. :) (Really, I do LOVE my teenager -- just not the mouth!)

Bia, you are a smart Mom. You are a good Mom. You are intune with your kids. I know you will put down the ground rules and you will make sure he STICKS to them. Your son, my dear, I wouldn't worry about. He'll figure out it's a privledge real quick.


Ua said...

Oh, boy, I'm going to make Christopher read this... he wants a cell phone NOW and he is only 10 years old! I've already heard the "But I'm the only one in my class who doesn't have one!" bit... which I find impossible to believe since we're talking 4th grade here. I'll be glad to be able to say to him, "Forget about a cell phone until you are in at least the 9th grade like your cousin!"

Bacioni, Ua

Laura said...

My sister waited, like you, until giving her a cell phone.
He only has 500 texts per month.
I applaud you BIG time for having the courage to wait.

Tiziana said...

Qui in Italia TUTTI i ragazzi (e tantissimi bambini) hanno il telefonino. Secondo me è utilissimo se usato nel modo giusto. Come hanno detto anche alcune tue amiche, servono alcune regole precise: A scuola non si può accendere (altrimenti te lo prendono), niente telefonino mentre si mangia, mentre si studia e alla sera si spegne presto.
Però è così utile quando sono da qualche parte perchè in caso di necessità ti possono chiamare facilmente e viceversa.
Penso che i nostri ragazzi siano abbastanza maturi per averlo, non vedo grossi pericoli. Bisogna dar loro fiducia anche perchè stanno crescendo e devono fare anche loro delle esperienze. Chiara manda dei messaggini perchè costano pochissimo ed è un metodo per comunicare con gli altri (ne hanno bisogno).
Sarebbe proprio isolata senza il telefonino.
E' da due giorni in gita scolastica e, quando glielo permettoni ci telefona, ti assicuro che è bellissimo sentire le sue emozioni di quel momento.
Insomma, penso che Nicholas abbia tutto il diritto di avere il suo telefonino e vedrai che anche tu ne sarai contenta.

GrandmaK said...

My 2 cents worth! My freshman granddaughter doesn't have one. And according to her parents she won't get one until she is driving. Now, I work in an office with parents who have children with cell phones...They are texting Mom from class....What's wrong with this picture? I'm of the opinion that the cell phone should be banned from class. Must be left in locker or be confiscated. I hear some schools do that. It's a tough call, Bia, but our Kellie is no worse for not having one. It takes courage to say no to the "cell." I applaud you for waiting. Cathy

Tiziana said...

Penso che da noi i bambini di 8 anni hanno già tutti il telefonino, perchè siete così contrari?
Forse noi italiani siamo molto più apprensivi e vogliamo sempre sapere dove sono e cosa fanno. Io mi sento molto più tranquilla se Chiara a con se il telefonino.
Naturalmente se a scuola lo accendono viene sequestrato.
Ma cosa vuol dire bueller?
Non sono riuscita a trovare la traduzione.

Lisa said...

Wow ~ good topic, and so pertinent. LIke, this was not something that was an issue when we were 8th graders, huh? We only gave our 14+ boys phones when they went to boarding school so they would keep in touch with us and we could get ahold with them. HA! Right. They turned into texting fiends right away. So, we imposted honor-imposed limits, which they were hard-pressed to keep ~ Seriously, it is a huge temptation for a kid. (Like putting a Snickers bar in a dieter's purse and telling her not to eat it.) I'm pretty sure most companies can limit the texting minutes and Internet (which ours were never allowed to have at all), but I don't know how rigid the controls are. It'd be good to look into that. We decided, however, to continue to pay for the college age kids cell phones (as they've been responsible0, but buy the other two boys pay-as-you go phones. But, it's really a thing that needs to be dictated by your situation, your tolerance, and your kids. Like Kim said, though, you're such an awesome Mom and so on top of things, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you'll find the right balance.

Gosh, was life more or less complicated before we got all the technology?

Lisa said...

Sheesh. Have a typo or two... Pays to slow down and edit oneself sometimes... &;o'

E said...

I love that my kids have them. They call when any plans change. ..."Mom we are going to friend;y's for ice cream instead, okay?"
They call for quick advice..."Mom hannah is at he movie with Brendon and Molly is really upset. Should we stay or do you think s=we should go"? ...
And the call for help...directions, money....and to tell me that they just saw a moose.

This is one connection I love having. They know that t is governed by good manners which means no texting in class, or at dinner, or or or. They get it. And they will be ready not to be those boorish adults in restaurants, because they will have practiced.
You are a great mom. This is be way simpler than you think

Wendy said...

My ES begged for one with a camera for Christmas. Two weeks after receiving it, he walked across a frozen pond and fell in, with the cell phone in his pocket. Urgh. Still, it made for a valuable lesson and great argument on our part when we need him to be more responsible. After a month with nothing, we did allow him to purchase his own pre-paid cheapo.

I'm not sure I understand why cell phone users must pay to receive text messages. We had a limit for ES, but others kept continually texting him.

Still, I'm glad he has it. I can reach him when he is out in the woods at his fort or after school for an activity. He can call when his wrestling practice ends earlier than expected or when he wants to stay after and watch a swim meet. I don't know if I'd feel the same if we still lived in a big college town (back in IL, I don't think he would have needed it as much).

Soutenus said...

Wow! Lots of great advice!

I see a phone as a common sense security tool . . . the text feature? Not so much!

Verizon can disable texting - I am assuming all service providers can. So, if self imposed limits do not work you really do have an alternative.
We know this because my husband started receiving MANY texts about a "textbook he had listed for sale" at a nearby University. We do not have an unlimited text plan soooo it got to be costly!
Verizon disabled texting on his phone. Problem solved.