The debate about when to get your child the first cell phone is not a new one. I had the same decision to make with my oldest son over a decade ago, although his generation was among the first to have the privilege for cell phones before adulthood! My attitude about when it is okay and what I will allow has definitely changed over the years though. When my oldest was a teenager, I decided that he could have a cell phone when he could pay for it himself, and not before he was sixteen. Since he started his first job at 16, the cell phone came shortly afterwards and the responsibility for it was entirely his.
He would probably call me a hypocrite now, because my next two children were given smartphones at the same time, when they were 11 and 12 respectively. I obviously paid for these phones, since kids that age don’t have an income and I’ve continued to pay even though they have earned their own money.
So you may ask, why the change in opinion? Eight years passed and technology changed dramatically in that time. Phone booths are not readily available anymore and I wanted the kids to be able to reach me if they needed to. Honestly, I wanted to be able to reach them as well. While my older son’s education included technology based learning, the younger children communicate with their teachers via text and find their school assignments online. They even submit them electronically and find their grades through a portal. It’s a different world than it was a decade ago!
We don’t make the kids pay for their phones, even in the summer when they are working, because we use the Rogers Share Everything Plan. It gives us a discount on their phones and an overall data limit for the entire family. We have set up their phones so that they get a warning when they reach a certain data level, and they can’t use the data anymore once they reach another level. It ensures we aren’t getting overage fees and they are learning to manage the data they use. That is an important lesson these days!
One of the nicest things that we’ve seen happen since the kids got their phones is the way they stay in contact with their brother. He is a grown man who lives on his own and we don’t get to see him as much as we would like, but they are able to text him and send pictures whenever they want. It has helped them stay close even with the distance between us.
When did/will you let your kids get cell phones?