Subscribe to this Blog
Today's Blogs
    The Checkup:

Why My Tween Does Not Have a Cellphone

By Jamie Mazza

If you asked my 12-year-old son why he does not have his own cellphone, he would tell you, “Because my parents are LAME!”

He may be right.

As I started to write this blog, I felt as if I were doing a written assignment, punishment for being a lame parent.

As a parent, I really don’t want to be lame. I want to be cool. But when I assess my values and beliefs, I have to say, I don’t want my 12-year-old to own a cellphone -- here’s why:

  • Too much responsibility too soon

  • Too much freedom too soon

  • Too much gear too soon

I know that many parents disagree with me on this issue. Parents tell me allowing kids to own a cellphone will teach responsibility. Parents say that they are able to communicate with their kids when they are out and about -- I get this. Sometimes I will let my son “borrow” my cellphone if he is out and will need to call me. But the phone still belongs to me.

I am a ‘70’s chick. I like simpler times, but I am progressive as well, and I do like many of the ways the world has changed. But sometimes things move too quickly and kids are required to grow up too fast. I believe that kids still need a childhood -- one that is protected by adults. A childhood that allows kids to make mistakes in an environment that is as safe and secure as we can provide.

“What do you mean it’s too much responsibility to own a cellphone? Everybody has them Mom, even 8-year-olds! You are so mean!” A local school allows kids to take their phones out on the playground with them for recess-----TO CALL WHOM? FOR WHAT?

Maybe I am “old school” but having to deal with texting and sexting, managing the number of minutes I have used, trying to figure out where I left my phone yesterday, and returning all of the calls or texts, would cause me a lot of stress. Not to mention the fact, “I don’t want some stupid standard phone I want an iPhone---$299.00.” Talk about responsibility. I can remember as a kid if someone wanted to call you, they called your house phone. Your parent knew who you were talking to, most of the time. Now even the cellphone owner doesn’t know who sent the text—for sure.

Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I know there are many kinds of cellphones and phone plans that are available. There are pre-paid phones, like the Firefly, phones available without texting, and phones with pre-programmed numbers. These phones give parents more control. But to me, this still opens a can of worms that I am not willing to live with, yet.

If I allow my son to have too much responsibility, too much freedom, and too much gear, too soon, I feel I have not done my job as a parent to protect his childhood.
A cellphone is a powerful tool. I don’t want my 12-year-old to be burdened just because the media says that “cool kids” have cell phones.

He’ll get one when he and his lame parents are ready.

Jamie Mazza is a parent coach. She writes the blog “Does this mean I have become my mother?” If you are interested in sharing your own parenting story, please e-mail parenting@washingtonpost.com

By Stacey Garfinkle |  March 17, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs , Tweens
Previous: Moving Women Forward | Next: Allergic Kids Find New Hope

Comments


I have no strong opinions either way on cell phones for kids.

We got 2 free phones when we upgraded our plan and gave them to our elementary school aged kids, basically because we won't reup our plan for another 2 years and by then one of the kids would be in Middle School. They were a novelty at first but that has worn off, and now they only take them with them when they need them. They aren't allowed to text and rarely talk to friends, but it is good to have the extra phones.

I don't really understand the "cool kids" comment. Cell phones are so standard (and essential for some kids) today that I'm not so sure they are a status symbol anymore. The constantly texting tweeners and teens are annoying, but I'm sure most parents aren't exercising any control over it.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | March 17, 2009 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Well Jamie, it's obvious that your son didn't hit the parent lottery. But to deny a 12 year old boy the ownership of a cell phone doesn't mean it's the end of the world for him. It's quite possible that he can overcome the lack of the most popular social tool known to the modern teenager in a few years.

Teenage daughters are different though. if a girl doesn't have one by the time she enters high school, the parents are asking for big problems. Ever see that Stephen King movie "Carrie"? That's what we're talking here. You may as well stamp the words "Nerd" in big, black letters on her forehead every morning before she goes to school. You can spew all kinds of responsibility and maturity garbage at her, but denying her a cell phone is on the same level as taking her social life away. She will hate you for ostracizing her from her peers. So, unless you are hell-bent on crushing your daughter's self esteem, please shell out the extra few bucks to get her a cell phone. It will save on the co-pay fees for her therapy and meds in the first year of independent living alone.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | March 17, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Oooo- let's focus the discussion today on "(other peoples') kids these days and their entitled attitudes" and compete to see which of us is the best parent based on what we won't let our kids do!

Posted by: bubba777 | March 17, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure where I stand on the issue of cell phones for young kids.

BUT when I was tween, in the early 80's, most kids (girls at least) had their own phone line by the end of middle school. I had actualy saved up enough money to pay for the installation and the first several months phone bill before my mom realized that if I paid 100% of the cost, she couldn't force me to let my younger sister also use the "kids' line", as she saw it. SO in the end, my parents paid for a 2nd phone line, and all of us kids' friends dialed that number.

I guess the question is: is that really so different from a cell phone? And the answer has many levels, especially if you consider the possibility of sexting, or other photos that may end up passed around and damage your kid, or your kid's friends.

Posted by: JHBVA | March 17, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

"A childhood that allows kids to make mistakes in an environment that is as safe and secure as we can provide."

My other question - how do you do this if you don't start stretching out the boundaries? If you buy the basic cell phone and your kid loses it, he knows HE lost it, and it doesn't get replaced until HE can replace it. At what age is this an acceptable mistake if 12 isn't it? I agree with the message - but not letting your kids try something, or accept the next level of responsibility doesn't sound like "letting your kid make mistakes" and learn to me.

Posted by: JHBVA | March 17, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

From the author's blog:

"Parent coach Jamie Mazza reflects on her parenting journey and gives her thoughts on leaving an emotional legacy for your children."

"parenting journey" and "emotional legacy" are code for someone who has waay too much money and free time for navel gazing.

Posted by: jezebel3 | March 17, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Bravo! Kids do not need a cell phone. Billions of humans have survived just fine without them. Person to person communication is pretty darn important, and I'm afraid that it is suffering these days among the young.

Most adults don't need one either. Really. Unless it's for your work.

Posted by: heather37 | March 17, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

I agree that 12 year olds don't need cell phones, although I don't see anything wrong with them having one. But I'm just totally not understanding where the author is coming from on her reasoning:

"If I allow my son to have too much responsibility, too much freedom, and too much gear, too soon, I feel I have not done my job as a parent to protect his childhood.
A cellphone is a powerful tool. I don’t want my 12-year-old to be burdened just because the media says that “cool kids” have cell phones."

I don't see a cell phone as being a "powerful tool" or a "burden" that is giving a child "too much responsibility". It's a phone. Kids use it to call and text their friends. As someone else mentioned, it is just today's version of the teen phone lines a lot of us had.

Seriously, how are you not "protecting his childhood" by giving him a cell phone?

I really hope the author can respond to the comments at some point and explain why she feels cell phones are so evil.

Posted by: dennis5 | March 17, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

While my middle school daughters who are on all sorts of sports teams, do not have a cell phone, I, too, do not feel strongly about it. It is a question of money for us at this point.

My big question is why do you think you are unable to put limits on the phone? Your writing lends me to believe that you believe your child will take over. Do you allow him to IM? To use the Internet? I am sure you put restrictions on these. Responsibility is there, and it is up to you as the parent to ensure that your child is responsible enough for anything.

Kids always test limits. It is up to us as parents to ensure that they stay within those limits. That is how we teach them responsibility.

Posted by: Stormy1 | March 17, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the author and heather37. It is not a necessity, it is a luxury. I suspect that many kids have phones because it makes things easier for parents. I hardly use my cell phone which makes some people crazy. I think as a society, we are losing the ability to be quiet and still with ourselves.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | March 17, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

heather37, there are a lot of things that people have that they don't really "need", but they make our lives easier. We don't "need" the internet either, but you obviously find it useful.

Posted by: dennis5 | March 17, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I'm wondering what a kid that age needs a cell phone for. My 7 YO keeps asking for one - but seriously, he's never somewhere where I don't know where he is - so um, who's he going to call? And when's he going to do it? Obviously 12 is older - but still...I'm thinking that's a bit young.
My parents (well, my mom) knew where I was, even if she wasn't home - and um, if I wasn't where I was supposed to be, then why would haven't a cell phone be any help at all? These kids are in school most of the day anyway - who are they calling? When are they doing it?
I don't think we'll consider the kids getting cell phones til they're in high school, and even then, well, I'm not so sure. We'll see, I guess. But I kinda agree with the author.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | March 17, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Just because you personally don't use your cell phone, assuming that other people don't "really need" one (wait, maybe for work) is condescending.

I like my cell, we have a very confusing schedule due to my husband's job, switching off kids, etc. Our kids have practices that we share rides with other parents, everyone is "on the go" and sometimes there are problems with someone getting there in time. I have a huge comfort level with my cell, so if someone doesn't need one, fine, but I find them extremely useful.

Do kids "need" them, no. Is it nice for them to have for scheduling, yes.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | March 17, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Moxie: I hardly use my cell phone either - I have a plan that is the least expensive, and I hardly use the number of minutes they give me. I actually NEVER use all the minutes they give me.

re: phone line - we had two phone lines my whole life - but we all used both. With a cell phone it is WAY more difficult to monitor who is calling. A parent COULD, I guess, go on line to look at a call log, but it's much easier when someone calls the home phone and asks to speak to 'janie' and you ask who it is.

I had to beg my parents just for a phone in my room - the reason being that it wasn't wired, so we had to get the phone company out, and get a phone line put in. It was just a hassle and cost my mom didn't want...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | March 17, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Oh yeah. You're really robbing a child from his childhood just because you give him a cell phone... *eyes roll*

...ends sarcasm

Posted by: Soguns1 | March 17, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

If the concern is that you, as the parent, won't know who your kid is talking to, there is a simple answer. TALK to your kids. Know their friends.

Sure, you can restrict the number of minutes on your kid's phone, the number of texts, prohibit picture texts, etc. But the truth is, if the phone rings in your home, and your kid answers, you still didn't get the chance to ask the caller who he/she is.

And for many of us, we no longer have a land line. I dumped mine years ago, when I realized that I was paying for something I never used, and didn't want to use. What that will mean as my child gets older is still unknown, seeing as how the kid has a couple more weeks to cook. But eventually I'll have to either pay for a land line again, or pay for my kid to have a cell phone, or some other option not yet available.

And for many of my friends, who are either single parents or where both parents work outside the home, giving their middle school and high school kids a cell phone makes it easier for the parent to keep in touch with the kid. Kid staying after school - you can check in. Kid on the late bus home, you can check in. Kid hanging out with friends after school - you can always check in. I guess if your family has a SAH parent who goes to pick the kid up after school, drops kid at friend's house, picks kid up, etc. you don't need to do as much checking in. But many families don't have that luxury.

Posted by: JHBVA | March 17, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I think we have become completely dependent on knowing everything all the time. My parents didn't speak to each other when my dad was at work - he was WORKING. Now we IM and text and call all day long - when are you coming home, did you do this? can you do this?
I think it's a crutch. And actually having that cell phone - FOR A 12 YO - is another crutch.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | March 17, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

actually, i think I disagree with the writer. She doesn't want to give her kid a cell phone cause it will make him too grown up? I actually think having a cell phone - to check in every minute, as jhbva indicated - makes it seem as if they are being treated more like a small child.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | March 17, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

dennis5 I appreciate your comment.
I don't think that cell phones are "evil" and I get that it makes things easier in our busy world. I am not trying to come across judgmental of parents who make the decision to allow their tweens to have a cell phone. I know sometimes it is a real necessity for some families. I had a feeling when I wrote this I would get these reactions. Good! Something to think about. I know lots of kids who are my son's age who have there own cell phone. Some are handling it fine; some are dealing with texts being sent at 1- 2am, kids texting mean things to each other, etc.
Actually, I am not a big control freak with my kids, most people who know me would be suprised that I feel the way I do on this topic. Typically, I allow my kids freedom to make their own mistakes. My 25 year old thinks I am insane to take such a stand on the cell phone thing. But I feel that to own a cell phone is a luxury and a big responsibility for a 12 year old. It is just one more thing to speed up the pace of our kids lives. I do want to keep up with the times, but I think my son can wait a little while.

Posted by: coachjamie | March 17, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I hardly use my cell phone which makes some people crazy. I think as a society, we are losing the ability to be quiet and still with ourselves.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | March 17, 2009 9:09 AM

It's fascinating that you see your cell phone, but not your constant Internet use, as a barrier to getting back that ability to be quiet and still with ourselves.

This argument is akin to the rant of someone who doesn't like ice cream, but loves ham and eggs, about how much better off Americans would be if only they didn't eat so much ice cream.

The cell phone's not your thing, so you condemn it as contrary to peacefulness. Let's talk about the impact of all technology on individual peace, love and joy. Shall we?

Posted by: anonfornow | March 17, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

My 10 yo doesn't have a cell phone because said child doesn't need one. If/when she needs a cell phone, we'll deal with it then. I think she is pretty mature and would use it responsibly. Other kids she knows have cell phones. She'd like one, but since we can't establish need, she doesn't get one.

My 7 yo doesn't have one because said child doesn't need one AND because I am not sure the she wouldn't use it to make prank phone calls (as a 7 yo did at my older daughter's apparently boring birthday party a few years ago, until I realized it and confiscated the phone).

I got a cell phone last summer. I hardly ever use it, but it does come in handy at times. No, I don't need it, but since 800 minutes and one year phone service cost $100, it didn't break my bank account and there have been a few times I was glad I had it. Just don't leave me a message that I am not expecting--it could be days before I think to check it. Like my answering machine, it is more for my convenience than yours. :)

Posted by: janedoe5 | March 17, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I think we have a ways to go before we have to worry about that. SS is 6 and not ready for a cell phone. I know this because I gave him some cars a few weeks ago. On the very first day, he took the cars to the playground and lost one. Not the first toy he hasn't been able to keep track of and likely not the last. I don't care about a few cars missing here and there but wouldn't want to be looking for a cell phone on its first day.

I don't know when the children would get cell phones. They live with their mother so ultimately... it might very well be up to her. I am fairly neutral on the whole issue but would probably start with a basic phone with no texting or internet that had some kind of limit on minutes. Assuming I had any say in the matter of course.

Posted by: Billie_R | March 17, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Here's something to think about:

The state of Virginia allows for 13 year olds to be babysitters of younger children, implying that a teenager has reached the level of maturity that it takes to be responsible for the lives of other human beings.

Barring special needs kids, for those who can't trust their teenager with a cell phone, here's a few selected verses from the Pink Floyd classic "Mother" from "The Wall" album:

Hush, my baby. baby, dont you cry.
Mommas gonna make all of your nightmares come true.
Mommas gonna put all of her fears into you.
Mommas gonna keep you right here under her wing.
She wont let you fly, but she might let you sing.
Mommas gonna keep baby cozy and warm.
Oooo babe.
Oooo babe.
Ooo babe, of course mommas gonna help build a wall.

Hush, my baby. baby, dont you cry.
Mommas gonna check out all your girlfriends for you.
Momma wont let anyone dirty get through.
Mommas gonna wait up until you get in.
Momma will always find out where youve been.
Mommas gonna keep baby healthy and clean.
Oooo babe.
Oooo babe.
Ooo babe, youll always be baby to me.

And here's the link to the song:
http://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DqHOSG7HNlFk&ei=VrS_Sab9D6Sytwe12fhc&sa=X&oi=spellmeleon_result&resnum=2&ct=result&cd=1&usg=AFQjCNHAQSaO1NKBGZKMT1ZH8ocEMHAsoQ

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | March 17, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: anonfornow | March 17, 2009 10:26 AM

Thank you for putting the self righteous Moxie in her place. She's practically perfect in every way, in her own mind.

Why is it all or nothing with cell phones, you'd think people were either on them all time or not at all from the comments here. There are moderate cell phone users.

And if your kid is obnoxious on the phone or texting, take it away. Doesn't anyone have rules they enforce?

Posted by: cheekymonkey | March 17, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Our 12y.o. doesn't have a cell phone because she doesn't need one. The 17, 18 and 19 y.o.'s do have them, as do DW and I.

The older kids got phones when they started being out on their own a lot - sports, jobs, etc.

Oldest DD went into Baltimore to pick up her younger brother from school, and got lost. Call Dad on cell phone; Dad pulls up Google Maps and navigates DD to school.

DS was leaving school and got rear-ended by a classmate racing to make the light. Call Dad on cell phone; Dad provided instructions for handling the accident and bailed out of work to get there.

Middle DD was at softball practice; she and friend were supposed to be driven home by friend's mother. Friend's mother had a tire blow out on her car - friend's mother called her daughter and middle DD; middle DD called her brother to get her and friend.

These things are VERY useful if you're going to have kids running around.

Personally, I find the asynchronous nature of texting to be preferable to voice calls many times - I can get a message without disrupting what I'm doing and quickly move on.

Sexting? Been going on in one form or another for years. Kids of the 70s - you mean to tell me you didn't know that one kid who could always liberate his parents' Polaroid camera, and who all sorts of "interesting" photos to show? What's changed is the scope and scale, not the situation.

It's all technology. It can be used for good or evil.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | March 17, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Jamie, I appreciate your reply. I still don't understand how you are protecting your son's childhood by not allowing him to have a cell phone. What exactly are you protecting him from?

Again, I'm ambivalent on whether a 12 year old needs a cell phone. It is a responsibility and some 12 year olds are ready to handle it and some aren't. I just don't understand how a 12 year old having a cell phone is endangering his childhood.

Posted by: dennis5 | March 17, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Most kids under 13 do not need cell phones but some do.

I have a cell phone that I use for emergencies only. I use it so that child care providers can reach me when I am neither at work nor at home. I don't use it while I'm driving, I rarely use it at home and never at work.

My teenager got one from his Dad (divorced). Prior to that, said teenager used mine when necessary to reach me often so I'd know when to pick him up from a place. We also used pay phones to contact Mom when child was at, say, Library.

Teenager, like me, no longer likes cell phone due to intrusion on peace. Prefers face time, email etc. Uses phone for games instead.

Sexting? Scary! Hope the Dad that gave said phone to child has a way of monitoring that.

I agree with Jamie Mazza, the blogger, cell phones are not necessary for 12 y.o.s. Wait a couple of years. The child won't ever need therapy for this.

Happy.

Posted by: TTCP | March 17, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

12 y.o.s don't need cellphones. No kid NEEDS a cellphone. Puh-leeze.

Posted by: Diner65 | March 17, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I don't care one way or the other. I don't think little kids need one because they are hardly ever if ever with out an adult. I hardly use my own cell phone.

But once a child reaches the age where they are going places with out an adult, like a party or an activity, it might be helpful for rides etc...

Teens pretty much will demand one. So if you feel strongly about it, make them pay for it themselves.

Overall 12 seems like a decent age to get a graduated cell phone; like limited hours, prepaid, no picture texting.

I think even middle to late elementary school students can deal with a firefly for emergencies or car pooling.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 17, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

It really depends on the kid and the situation. DD got a phone at 13 (end of 7th grade) because she was flying alone for the first time, would be away for a week, and DH and I did not want to part with our phones.
She was 12 when she started asking... and when several of her friends got them for Christmas. But they would treat them like toys, which is why we chose to wait.
On the other hand, DS is 11 (6th grade) and has ADHD. He cannot remember to turn in his homework regularly, so it will be a LONG time before we trust him with a phone.

Posted by: lorenw507 | March 17, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse


I agree that allowing your tween to own a cellphone is a decision that each parent has to make based on the needs of their family and each kid-depending on personality, maturity etc. I am not trying to hold my kid back and stop him from growing up, but I do feel like a cell phone is one thing,(there are many others), that can hurry a kid out of childhood. For example, in the community where we live the cell phone is more than just a communication tool. If you borrow your mom or dad's phone it isn't the same as having your own phone. Having your own phone means you have "gear" --a symbol of status. In some ways it can be compared to allowing you tween to dress provocatively.
I am thinking of this, when I talk about protecting my kid's childhood.

Posted by: coachjamie | March 17, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

For those who believe that their kids can use a payphone - be glad that at least a few of your kids' friends probably have a cell phone. Most telephone service providers are removing payphones, since there are very very few that pay for themselves anymore. It's very likely that the pay phones at the high school or library are no longer connected, because whatever Baby Bell company installed them doesn't want to pay for the maintenance.

As to comparing a cell phone to provocative clothing - does your child have an MP3 player? Do you have a video game system in your home? Do you allow your child to watch PG or PG-13 movies? When you're 12, EVERYTHING in life is a status symbol. Not just if your clothes are provocative, but the brand name on your jeans, sneakers, etc. If you have an Ipod or just a regular MP3 player. Or, horror of horrors, if your parents expect you to live without that. If you have Nintendo Wii or Xbox or whatever. A cell phone seems one of the more innocuous status symbols in a 12 year olds world.

Posted by: JHBVA | March 17, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

true-- you have to pick your battles!! but it is something to think about!!

Posted by: coachjamie | March 17, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

true-- you have to pick your battles!! but it is something to think about!!

Posted by: coachjamie | March 17, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse


Why?

Posted by: jezebel3 | March 17, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: JHBVA | March 17, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I agree completely with this. My girl's not even 8 yet, and she's already started hankering after "stuff" that the other kids in her class have -- not just the iPods and such, but even basic things like jeans (she desperately wants to wear them, but non-stretchy pants are one of the things she is ridiculously over-sensitive to). As parents, we're all going to face those decisions, and there's always something that is going to be a trigger for us -- some place where we draw the line. And mine is likely to be different from yours.

For us, the trigger isn't tech stuff, since I seem to be married to AB's evil twin Skippy, who sees all of those gadgets as (a) fundamentally cool and (b) useful and blameless tools. But I am a reforming Luddite, so I understand it. I suspect our battleground is going to be the sexualizing stuff like makeup and inappropriate shirts/skirts. But even there, you have to give them some leeway to make their own mistakes. Just this weekend, I let her pick out some sandals with like an inch heel, instead of her standard Mary Jane's. She really wanted them to be "like the other kids," and nothing else fit anyway. So I said ok -- and figured it might be a good lesson in how uncomfortable those things are, and how boring life is when you can't run around on the playground!

Posted by: laura33 | March 17, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"When you're 12, EVERYTHING in life is a status symbol."

And if you don't teach them that this is a load of crap, they become status-conscience adults who who rack of credit card bills and buy/lease cars they can't afford and mortgage themselves to the hilt, etc. Because, you know, it's important to keep up with the Jones.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | March 17, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

When you're 12, EVERYTHING in life is a status symbol."

And if you don't teach them that this is a load of crap, they become status-conscience adults who who rack of credit card bills and buy/lease cars they can't afford and mortgage themselves to the hilt, etc. Because, you know, it's important to keep up with the Jones.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | March 17, 2009 12:50 PM


True. It is a load of crap, you'd be better off telling them so now. If your kids are small you'll soon know which parents are promoting the "status symbol" stuff and which ones aren't.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | March 17, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

JHBVA,

Wow. You just revealed that my husband and I are woefully inadequate parents who failed to provide for our children (5 and 11):
No Wii/PSP/XBOX
No iPod
No MP3
No cable
No cellphone
No designer jeans (but this is my 11 yo daughter's choice, she doesn't wear jeans)

We have also arranged our work schedules so that I can drop off the children at school and my husband can pick them up when the bell rings (no aftercare). So, we *are* lucky in that we *do* have the luxury to pick them up and drop them off at friends' house (although it's more often that the friends are at our house).

Posted by: slackermom | March 17, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Cheeky and anon: for starters, I'm glad you know how I spend my days. Secondly, your inability to discuss the issue at hand without resorting to personal attacks speaks more about your inability to form a cogent argument than it does about your perceptions of the kind of person I am. The validity of your comments and opinions would be bolstered if you learned how to disagree without name calling. It has been my experience that people who are consistently nasty do so because they are unhappy. Therefore, you will benefit from my pity rather than my scorn.

Whacky - I don't know that I would look to Flyod for parenting advice!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | March 17, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

lots of anger today... nothing like a 'values' discuss to stir things up.

personally, i'm with dennis and his ambivalence.

if they want it and pay for it themselves, i don't see anything wrong with it per se.

i land more in the camp of punishing behavior, not demonizing the tool that makes the behavior possible.

Posted by: interestingidea1234 | March 17, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Jamie, again I appreciate the reply. I'm still not getting the connection as to how having "gear" pushes a kid out of childhood.

My 7 year old son has an iPod, which sounds like it would be considered "gear" to you. (For the record, he bought it himself with the gift cards and money he got for Christmas.) So does that mean he is hurrying out of childhood because he has a somewhat expensive electronic item?

And I certainly don't see having "gear" as being anything close to letting a kid dress provacatively.

Posted by: dennis5 | March 17, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I certainly agree with the general idea that tweener don't need cell phones. But I can see a limited case for a tweener having one.

"It's fascinating that you see your cell phone, but not your constant Internet use, as a barrier to getting back that ability to be quiet and still with ourself"

I will defend Moxie's comments. There is some difference between a cell phone and the internet. The internet does not command and demand our attention the way a ringing phone does. Sure, you can turn off the phone but then that defeats the purpose of having one anyway.

Posted by: anonthistime | March 17, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I don't really think that a cellphone confirs responsibility or freedom on a child. It's just stuff.

Get them one if you want, don't if you don't want.

But don't play parent wars with me over it. I'm not a stay at home Mom and I like to be able to talk to my kids and find out what's up. Sometimes they can even be talked into putting dinner in the oven.


Posted by: RedBird27 | March 17, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Moxie, If you weren't such an stick in the mud it wouldn't be so easy to tear into your arguments. Between your Holier than Thou comments on the parents of the children tragically left in cars, and your attitude that since you don't really need a cell phone we all don't need a cell phone, it's not hard to see who is truly picking apart people's opinions.

As for being unhappy, you don't sound all sunshine and buttercups. Quite frankly, you sound like you are a "know it all."

I wear your "pity" as a badge of honor.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | March 17, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

"I'm not a stay at home Mom and I like to be able to talk to my kids and find out what's up."

Guess who is a stay at home mom? The one that has the all the answers.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | March 17, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

The validity of your comments and opinions would be bolstered if you learned how to disagree without name calling. It has been my experience that people who are consistently nasty do so because they are unhappy.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | March 17, 2009 1:40 PM

Doctor, heal thyself. I called no names, and there was nary a hint of nastiness in the suggestion that the search for inner peace can be as easily impeded by the Internet as any other technology. Fiddle dee dee, though. Unhappy, indeed, is the woman who reveals over-the-top defensiveness whenever someone disagrees with her viewpoint.

Posted by: anonfornow | March 17, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Wow...after reading all the recent posts I'm feeling sort of "loserish" for thinking some readers are making this such a disputed topic. While I agree with cheekey that moxie is a bit over the top when it comes to parenting, I think holding off on a cell phone is no big deal. I also think giving one to a tween for purposes of checking in or knowing when a child needs to get picked up at an afterschool activity, sporting event, etc. is appropriate as well. I agree with Jamie that some kids will abuse their "power" when they constantly text, call friends for no good reason and basically just use it to be cool. My son is 12 and has one of the most basic cells out there. He has to pay for a prepaid card each month with his own money. He uses it when he's out with friends and needs a ride or has to check in with me. If he uses his 30 minutes for the month within the 1st 30 minutes, then he's done. Hopefully it will have taught him a lesson about planning and responsibility.
Jamie sounds like a resonable parent who faces the same struggles we all do everyday as parents. As for her son, I'm sure he gets a little grief about not having a phone. But hey, he could always hang out with a kid like my son after my son blows his 30 minutes within 24 hours. They could be lame together.

Posted by: eldin4me | March 18, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I have truly giggled this morning at most of the comments; thanks! I love debates. I guess I fall into the loser mom category. DD's (8 and 5) don't have many of the items listed by slackermom but we do have "house" items. For instance, we have a Wii but it's for everyone's use and everyone plays it together. We have an iPod but it stays in the house and every now and then we listen to the kids and actually let them play what they want to hear. Where I feel we are losers (according to most other parents around us at their school, for instance) are w/them not having cell phones or personal iPods or Nintendo DSs or a tv/phone in their room. For US, it's just a matter of feeling like those things aren't necessary just yet.

For us, there's just no need for our 8 yo to have a cell phone (even though "but mooooooooom everyone has one"). She's dropped off at school, picked up at school and doesn't leave in between. This is not to say I disagree w/the parents whose children do have them. Some of those kids use public transportation to and from school and it helps. Some of those kids are in afterschool activities and may need to call home if a game is canceled. Makes sense.

It comes down to personal preference. I don't condemn anyone for the choices they make for their kids. And guess what, we all get to choose what works best for us (whether it's moral, ethical, even (gasp) reasons confusing to even us). I'm not totally against cell phones for tweens and not totally for it. Our situation will let us know how to handle that age/stage when it approaches. BTW I'm one of those people who never goes over her minutes on her cell phone but that certainly doesn't mean it doesn't come in handy when I need it.

Posted by: 1herndon | March 18, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Slackermom, you're not alone! We don't have Wii, PSP, or XBox in our house either-the closest things we have are the Atari Reload, my Sega Genesis/CD, and several plug-in classics, none of which are hooked up. Our cable is expanded basic (no premium channels or digital cable), and our Internet access is dial-up. We still have a landline phone, partly because of the dial-up and partly because our area is prone to power failures due to the storms we get. My husband and I are the ones who have cell phones, and they're just the basic models-no Twitter, no keyboard texting-heck, we don't even have text capability because it costs extra! No name-brand clothes, except what I find at yard sales (I'd say about 95% of our kids' clothes are yard-sale purchases, except for shoes, socks, and undies, all of which get bought new-I think buying those items secondhand is unsanitary). Our kids don't have TVs or computers in their rooms, and they're not going to either. If they want to access the Internet, they can do so in the dining room where we know what's going on, and they won't get their own TVs till they go to college. If they want a cell phone, they can pay for it out of their allowance, and we're limiting what they can do with it as far as calls or texting goes. My sister and I grew up that way, and we turned out just fine.

NoVAHockey, I agree with you on all counts. This keeping-up-with-the-Joneses horse hockey is nothing but a form of economic slavery that does not give true happiness, is a constant form of one-upmanship, and will land you in debt up to your eyeballs faster than you can say "on sale now!" Our kids already know that commercials are nothing but a come-on to get you to buy clutter you don't need, and when you buy name brands, you're paying more for the label on the item than anything else. True friends will like you for who you are, not what gadgets you have or what clothes you wear. If those lessons last a lifetime, then we've done our job!

Posted by: dragondancer1814 | March 18, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

As a 5th grade teacher and parent of tweeners who DON'T have a cell phone, I applaud Jamie's stance. I can't tell you how many times I've driven tweeners places and instead of talking to each other, they are texting. Or, instead of studying, they are texting. Or, they ARE studying but they get a text every 5 minutes. I embrace technology and love the internet and reading blogs (like this one!), but a cell phone to a 12-year-old kid is just a distraction, pure and simple. A kid having a cell phone IS a status symbol...our students pull theirs out the minute they get out of school (and they aren't calling their parent for a ride!) Parents, how many of you know how many minutes your child spends on the phone? And who they're talking to? When was the last time you checked?

Posted by: notweencellphone | March 20, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Way to go mom! My 14 year old has survived middle school without a phone and I am sure she will survive high school as well. I briefly let her have one when she was in 6th grade due to circumstances with my commute to work and the amount of time she had to wait at school (both before and after). Once we moved and she was no longer spending a lot of unsupervised time in the city, her cell phone disappeared. As a 6th grade teacher in a public school, the damage I have seen caused by cell phones would fill volumes. (Don't even get me started on myspace) Cyber bullying is a very real problem and texting is a major cause. Cheating (texting test answers while in class) is also a huge problem with students having phones and a lack of maturity about how to use them. More parents should put their foot down and refuse to buy a phone for teenagers and tweens who are barely beginning to navigate into adulthood. By the way, even though my daughter does not have a cell phone (gets straight A's and is first chair flute in her band) she has not been labled a nerd. In fact, she is one of the most popular in her class(I know this because we are at the same school). Popularity really is not determined by the toys we buy our kids, it is based on their personality.

Posted by: theora_sensei | March 21, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company