Updated to add:
Something else I forgot to mention (yet another thing that I hate ... my gosh ... I am quite possibly the world's grumpiest person) is how much the acronyms and short-cut spellings that are used in IM'ing (yep, something else I refuse to do) and texting are ruining the plight of the English language. I've heard of teachers having to mark down papers because kids are using abbreviations instead of real words ... "that's just how they spell these days", which bothers me. So let's make that reason #4 Brayden doesn't need a cell phone ... the girl's spelling is atrocious enough as it is, why add to the confusion by letting her LOL and TTYL???
Someone asked: Oh as a footnote, I just sent my second text message Sunday (took FOREVER), and hubby still refuses to get a phone. Does Blaine have one? Yes, Blaine and I both have cell phones, and neither of us text. Blaine actually has a Blackberry, as is required by his work. Due to security clearances for military e-mails, his phone is given to him by the government because it's the only phone from which he can check his e-mails. It also has internet access which he uses very infrequently. I'll admit it's convenient at home because we only have one computer so he never needs on it (unlike my kids, who currently have obsessions with the Webkinz site and some weird warlord game that Kellen is addicted to**) My phone is a no-frills phone. It doesn't even have (gasp!) a camera! I use it to make calls only ... no texting, no internet. And I've never been anywhere that wasn't enough for me.
**PS I'm kidding about the addiction. Well, maybe not, he does love it an awful lot. But the kids have a 30-minute a day limit on computer time, so I'm not too worried it's going to get out of hand ... yet. :)
OK, so seriously, all kidding aside, I would love to know what you guys think ...
Brayden went to a birthday slumber party a few weeks ago. A girl from her class at school was turning eleven. There were approximately ten other girls from school there, all the same age (fifth going into sixth grade .... official middle school-ers this fall … excuse me while I weep into my hankie because my precious baby is not a baby anymore.)
Brayden came home from the party and informed me that she was the only .... ONLY .... girl there without her own cell phone. The birthday girl was given hers as a gift from her parents at the party. I said, "Do you mean their parent's cell phone that they brought to the party?" and she said no, their OWN, personal, private cell phone. Which they used to talk and text each other all night at the party, despite the fact they were all sitting right there next to each other. And text other people who weren't at the party. And Brayden was the only one who didn't have one. And how her life is in shambles without one. And could she have one, PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE, please please please, or am I going to continue my reign as the meanest mother in the world???
So. Although I could babble on for days (imagine that) about how I feel about this, I think I can sum up my opposition to this idea in three basic reasons:
1. She's ELEVEN, for goodness' sake. Not sixteen, not fourteen. It's not like she works, or drives, or goes on school trips, or away sports games, or over night camp, or is ever anyplace by herself that she might need one for security or safety purposes. She is either at school, or with me, or Blaine, or my mom, or my sister, or with someone we trust, at all times. She doesn't NEEEEEEEED a phone; she wants one. Big difference. Plus, she rarely talks to friends on the regular phone, why on earth does she need a cell phone?
2. We have told her (and Kellen and Kendrie, since they've both asked for their own phone as well) repeatedly that until they can help pay for it, the answer is no. When she replies she has enough in savings to buy the phone, I respond that *when* she gets a phone (because yes, of course I know the day is coming, I’m not a total doofus) she will also be responsible for a portion of the monthly cost. Since my kids have chosen the "we don't care if we get an allowance, we want to be lazy and not do any chores" option for this year's summer break, I know for a fact she can't afford to pay for any part of it. Even when they *are* getting a regular allowance, at this age, it's not enough to help pay any great part of cell phone service each month.
3. And this, I must admit, is the kicker. The real reason I don't want my daughter to have a phone, and why although I know it is an inevitability at some point in her future, I plan to push it off for as long as possible: I absolutely, positively, entirely, totally and completely, cannot STAND the sight of teenagers obsessed with sending and receiving text messages. I think it’s discourteous to do when you are in the company of other people (much like I think it’s also discourteous to talk on your cell phone in the company of other people) and I despise how preoccupied and fixated these kids seem to be with their phones.
Obviously, cost is not the issue as long as you have unlimited texting. My problem lies with how much TIME is spent doing it. At even only ten seconds apiece, sending six thousand texts in one month (which my friend’s daughter did a few months ago) is the equivalent of two hundred texts a day --- almost twenty hours a month of texting …. That’s five hours per week of time that could be spent reading, or on homework, or sports practice, or doing some kind of volunteer or charity work. Do I think every minute of every day should be spent constructively? No, of course not. Kids need down time, and to waste time, and I certainly feel texting falls into that category. But I find it weird, and a little silly, that kids are happy to spend so much time sending messages back and forth to one another. Just pick up the phone and CALL if you have something to say, for goodness sake! In fact, texting for one hour a day probably wouldn't even bother me if they sat down, did it for an hour, then were done. But it's the constant, non-stop, a little bit here and a little bit there insidiousness of it that makes me bonkers. And no, to answer your question, I do not send text messages, nor do I open them on the rare occasion I receive them. In fact, I had the texting option turned off my last phone and will probably do it to this phone as well. I DON’T have unlimited texting, and am charged ten cents apiece each time someone sends me one.
I’ve seen people text while driving (unsafe!) and while eating at restaurants (rude!) Last weekend, I saw them texting during a wedding reception, and this weekend, I saw them texting during the Aly & AJ concert I attended with Brayden. Which prompted her to point to the many, many teens and pre-teens around us, texting, and remind me again about how her life is incomplete and what a hag I am.
One friend told me the great thing about texting is that it’s so “non-invasive” because he can send a text without bothering or interrupting the person to whom he is sending, like he would with a phone call. I disagree. I think texting is terribly invasive --- if you’re sending hundreds, or even dozens of messages a day, how is your own time not invaded? I’ve seen very few people who don’t instantly open a text mail they’ve been sent, and who don’t immediately reply with a text of their own. How is that considered non-invasive??
I’m well aware that I’m probably just a cranky-pants who doesn’t understand “these kids today” … but I don’t. My friends with teens all laugh at me and tell me when my kids are older, and have their own phones, I will be sending and receiving text messages like crazy as well because that’s the only way I’ll be able to keep track of them. I hope not. I hope my kids will pick up the phone and call me if they have a question, or need to talk to me. The thought of being relegated as a parent to a brief SYS is a teensy bit insulting to me.
And there you have it. The reasons I don’t think my eleven –year old needs her own cell phone. At least not yet. It’s unnecessary; I’m cheap; and I see what happens when kids (and some adults!) get one. (Actually, this post turned out to be less about my daughter getting a cell phone, and more about my own personal distaste for text messaging. Hmmm, me, grumpy about something. Imagine that.)
Am I wrong? Crazy? Fighting the unavoidable? Do YOUR kids have cell phones, and if so, why? At what age? With what rules and restrictions? Giving her a phone with no texting, or limited texting??? Tract phones? Limited minutes? Free reign? Do they help pay for it?
I’d really like to know, because I have a feeling when school starts this fall, the begging will begin in earnest, and I need to be prepared to either fight or succumb.