I’m guessing that the average age that kids start pestering their parents for a phone is about 12. Or maybe it is better defined by the point at which they enter middle school and have the potential to eat up copious amounts of minutes and data by texting and sharing pictures (more on that later).
For us, the trigger point was my son attending a birthday sleepover with one of his friends who turned 13 earlier this year. Evidently, every kid at the party had their cell phone with them. When the birthday boy’s mom asked Alex, “did you forget your phone Alex?”, his response was “I’m not allowed to have one.”
Way to throw your mean old parents under the bus, kid. Well, actually, his mean old mom. His dad thinks he should have a phone.But I refused to give in because my philosophy has always been:
I still have to drive your ass to everything, so you aren’t going to have any roadside emergencies for awhile. And as long as the school principal’s office has a phone, you don’t need one. Besides…if I do get a call from the principal’s office, you have bigger problems than being the only kid without his own cell phone.
We had this same argument when it came to zombie/blood/guts/guns/war games for the Xbox. I was the last mom on the planet (according to my sons) to let them have Call of Duty. But I was the first mom to let them watch movies like Wedding Crashers, Dodgeball, Role Models, and The Hangover. I should earn some cool mom credit for that, right?
The case for a phone was not getting any stronger after I spent a night out with the moms of two eighth graders and another seventh grader. They told me about the big scandal at school during the basketball season. Eighth grade boys were allegedly taking pictures of themselves, texting/snapchatting them to girls, and asking the girls to send pictures of their boobs back. And the girls were agreeing to it.
Well, somebody get me to the cell phone store so I can get my son a phone – STAT!
The next day I asked Alex if he had heard of any kids getting called to the principal’s office about inappropriate texting and picture sharing. He responded, “not that I know of.” His father then said “Alex, were people sending naked pictures around?” Alex quickly responded, “oh yeah, that. Mom you didn’t ask if it was naked pictures.”
But this past week, I had to take my son Nick to lacrosse practice on Wednesday while my husband was out of town. Alex’s friend Ty came over just before we were going to leave and asked if Alex could come play. I said yes, and before I had a chance to ask where he was going and give him a time to be home, he was out the door and gone.
Nick and I jumped in the car to head to practice. We drove thru the neighborhood to see if we could find Alex to tell him what time to be home. But we didn’t see him, so I left in order to get Nick to practice on time.
On the way to practice, Nick said “you know mom, if Alex had a phone, you could just call or text him what time to get home.” Which made me feel like this:
While I was at the lacrosse field, I got this text from Alex’s iPad at 7:00pm:
So after sitting down with my husband and coming up with a list of what Alex isn’t allowed to do with this phone, we visited the Verizon store on Sunday, and purchased him one. While we were there, my husband and I upgraded the iPhone 4’s we have had since 2010 to iPhone 6’s.
And the whole thing probably cost us less than all the replacement retainers his brother Nick has lost in less than a year — three of them at $300 a pop! Nick will probably not be eligible to join the family phone plan until the iPhone 13 becomes available, given his track record with retainers. However, his orthodontists are making enough bank from the Rices to upgrade their phones every month or so.
So, we can now send Alex and his brother to the pool by themselves during the Summer, and still be able to reach them. We can have them go play with friends and have a way to check in with them periodically.
And middle school girls…in case you think I’m a pushover because I caved on getting my son a phone, here’s some advice. You want no part of a momma who might find your booby selfie on her son’s phone.