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Comments about ‘Growing number of children with cellphones adds pressure to purchase’

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Published: Sunday, April 22 2012 8:25 p.m. MDT

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Jeanie b.
Orem, UT

We have waited until until our kids are seniors in high school. Yes, our kids have asked and put the pressure on, we have been called Amish parents, but for us it seemed the negatives outweighed the positives. There really was no "need" except the social pressure and we really weren't interested in bowing to it.

About 2-3 times a year we have wished they had one, but the other 362 days we have been glad they did not.

Here's our reasoning -

First, as a high school teacher and an elementary school teacher we noticed that the majority of conversations (texting especially) were either trite or full of emotional drama. We felt our kids needed a chance to have some space for themselves and not be tied socially 24/7. There is enough emotional churning in one teenager - being tied to the emotional churnings of so many others just adds unneeded turbulence when kids are trying to figure themselves out.

Second, we really like that their friends have to call on our home phone to get a hold of our kids. This keeps us in the loop as parents.

Jeanie b.
Orem, UT

Continued-

As far as being able to get a hold of them, usually there is some sort of phone where they are. We also let them borrow ours if they are going on a date, or will be late at work.

It really has worked well for our family. It has been hard on our kids at times due to the social pressure. They have missed a few events not being able to get texts, but they are no worse for the wear and we believe they are actually better off for it.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

If "But my friends all have one" is somehow a pressure to change your parental decisions- then you are doing what seems best for you and not your child.

If you want one, great. There are kids who would have valid uses, who'd act responsible, and so on. But most children don't really need one. The truth is that no one really "needs" a cell phone. The human race certainly survived these thousands of years without them. Oh but wait, unless we get our kids every toy their friends have we aren't good parents.

-

I can only imagine how horrible this world would be if all decisions were made this way. "No officer, I only gave him pot and beer cause his friends's got some from their parents. And you can't tell me you wouldn't do the same thing!" The sad truth is that there are actually parents out there who do this sort of thing. It's self love, not love for your children.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

I gave my kids phones on the sixth birthdays.

SomeClarityPlease
Quiet Neighborhood, UT

I guess my concern is with the easy access to pornography or people that would abuse children under 18.

I understand that phones that can only text (i.e. not smart phones) can still download pornographic screens. Is it possible to get a cell phone with texting ability without the easy access to pornography?

luv2organize
Gainesville, VA

I too worry about pornography being so accessible to young innocent children but did you know that IPODS can hold porn too! There probably are phones you can buy that would eliminate the option of pictures being transmitted but I'm not totally sure. Phones also have games on them that are complete time wasters. If a child wants a phone so badly - and they are at a responsible age - perhaps they should purchase a pay as you go phone and they are responsible for buying more minutes when needed. This could reduce the unnecessary texting and drama when the child knows they are paying for this stuff! As a parent I have no problem saying no. I say no to game boys, DS's and more even though everyone has them!

SomeClarityPlease
Quiet Neighborhood, UT

Didn't know about the IPODS. Thanks for the tip.

I know some parents temporarily take their kids phones at bedtime or when they are home during the day to have a little more control. Anyone have any tips in this regard? Fortunately, my kids are still young and I have time to mull this over.

Kalindra
Salt Lake City, Utah

I disagree with the notion that no one "needs" a cell phone. While it is true that we used to be able to get along without them, there are a lot of other things that we used to not "need" that play integral parts in our lives now. With my job, if I didn't have a cell phone, I would need a pager and quarters for the pay phone.

My husband also needs a cell phone for his work. With both of us having cell phones, it was cheaper to get our child a cell phone than to have a home phone - and this way our child always has a way to contact us (if she remembers to charge her phone, that is!).

As for accessing inappropriate things - if your child is interested in that, they will find a way. Let them know that you are going to be checking their devices on a random basis and if there is inappropriate stuff or signs that stuff has been deleted, the device will be confiscated and they will be grounded.

Also, many plans have parental oversight where you are sent an email report of your child's activity.

What about?
Plainfield, IL

SomeClarityPlease we don't have cell phones for kids yet but all of their electronics, ie 3DS, are charged in our room. Those devices go to bed also.

Brave Sir Robin
San Diego, CA

Are you kidding? Cellphones for kids is a great idea. Can you imagine saying to your kid "here, I want you to voluntarily take this device that will triangulate your location 24/7 so I can know where you are at all times"? Of course no kid will go for that. Now all we have to say is "here's your cellphone" and they'll gladly tote that thing around all day.

With the bad comes the good...and FYI, you can block texting and picture messaging to/from their phone.

SqueakyWheel
Salt Lake City, UT

Brave Sir Robin

You really are brave if that is what you use it for. My sister's 9 year old daughter had a cell phone for that same reason. Her number got into the wrong hands and she started getting phone calls from old men wanting to meet up with her. One of those older men was also very tech savvy and found a way to track where her daughter was. He would mysteriously show up at parks, malls, etc.. until they finally caught on after seeing this guy 20-30 times, that somehow he must be following them. They discovered it was her cell phone, and they have since gotten rid of the phone. No stalker anymore.

Beware what you ask for. There is always someone who will use the same good technology for bad. As for me, my 11 year old daughter is not getting a cell phone until we feel she actually has a need for one (probably around high school). For now if she really needs one for something, she can take mine or my wifes.

Western Rover
HERRIMAN, UT

We have a phone that we call the "third phone" (Mom & Dad having the first two) that we will lend a child in a situation where the child may need it, e.g. being dropped off at an event with the ending time unknown. Eventually we may decide to get a fourth phone if we find that we have too many simultaneous events. But these phones never exclusively belong to a particular child.

SomeClarityPlease
Quiet Neighborhood, UT

Great ideas here! Keep em coming. I like your tip Western Rover.

millercarlita
RIVERTON, UT

Anyone else notice the article mentions the totally creepy practice of making your child send you a picture of where they are so they can prove they are where they say they are? (that was a lot of "they are's" - sorry!) How about teaching your kids right vs wrong and letting them make their own decisions? Must be the same parents who don't allow their kids to watch the Disney channel because they think their kids will want to turn into Hannah Montana or Sonny (look for that article in the DN articles - no, seriously). Kids need to be allowed to learn about the world themselves, and then choose their own way - you can definitely influence them for good or evil, but we all have our agency.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

luv2organize,

"As a parent I have no problem saying no. I say no to game boys, DS's and more even though everyone has them!"

I hope you aren't saying no to having a wii, internet, or tv also. I can't imagine what you meant by "and more", but taking away all 'fun and games' isn't the answer. You take away internet and when they are on their own and have a computer they won't know how to say "no" for themselves.

I grew up with every gaming system out there. I chose of my own accord to play good and family friendly games. Allowing your children a degree of choice, and more as they get older- is far wiser than taking it all away and expecting them to just 'turn out alright'. And fyi, when I was a kid I had a friend who couldn't have video games at home. He played them everywhere else and did all the stuff his parents didn't want elsewhere.

I agree, porn is a huge concern with electronics- but taking every last electronic away isn't wise. Are there things you do allow them to choose?

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

luv2organize,

Regarding my previous comment. I wasn't intending to attack your parenting approach. I only meant to illustrate that I don't think taking away everything is necessarily good (or at least effective). I don't even know that you suggested that or not as I don't know what you meant by "and more". Either way, I agree a lot with the idea of "less is better"- I was simply thinking of some extreme examples that I've often seen.

Personally, I don't think children and cell phones typically mix very well for various reasons.

---

Kalindra,

Sorry, but until my heartbeat requires a cell phone- I don't need one. Rich or poor, we don't realy need them. Some jobs require them, and they are very useful with how our 'electronic culture and work culture' have been changing. When I say "need", I only mean that it is possible to "get by" without them. And I believe that is especially more true with children. Ipads don't make for great education, the human will to learn does. That's proven every day by intelligent people who can't afford such luxuries.

Jeanie b.
Orem, UT

millercarlita - at what age do we turn kids over to parent themselves?

While the brain is developing parents are wise to closely monitor their child's choices and then slowly, as kids get older, allow more and more freedom. My husband and I use the term "pay out the leash". When they are full adults we have done our job and then they govern themselves. Happily, we don't have to be responsible for their decisions at that point, but we would be negligent to abandon them before then.

KinCO
Fort Collins, CO

We live in Colorado, location of two high school mass shootings--Columbine and Bailey. The Bailey shooting occurred when our oldest daughter was in high school, the same age as the young women who were assaulted and one shot and killed. We got her a cell phone the next week, as the students in that school had used theirs to contact police and parents to tell them what was happening. I'm sure those parents did not anticipate a crazy man (or two crazy students) to invade their child's school, but when it happened, it was providential that those kids had phones. Our daughter is married now, but her youngest siblings, both high school students, have had phones for years as well. Makes them feel safer, and is wonderfully convenient for me. We aren't going backward people--just as a laptop is now standard college equipment (and is becoming so for high school students too, btw), cell phones for kids will seem perfectly normal in a few years. Today's teens will be parents in a decade or two, and they will hand cell phones to their kindergartners!

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