As my mom always reminds me, life was simpler when I was growing up. Don’t I know it. For one thing, there was NO cel phone debate. To get your child, tween, teen a cel phone or not? That is the question (among many,many others).
What is the right age?
What is the right phone?
Which plan is best?
What are the rules of use?
Do they need a smart phone and a data plan?
Are they going to keep the phone in their room?
Does he/she need to take the phone to school?
The questions could go on infinitely.
Are any of these thoughts, questions, or anxieties sounding familiar? If you are anything like my husband and me, you have and will continue to spend many hours going over these questions with one another early in the morning, late at night, and whenever else you are sitting around discussing the ups and downs of raising children right now in this world we live in.
I should say this: Every family does what works for them. No judgement here.
This is our story:
Last summer, my oldest son who was 10&1/2 at the time was attending a number of different basketball camps in various locations. He was taking a school bus to some and getting dropped off at others. If that was not confusing enough, he was also in charge of his little brother tagging along for a few camps while he was solo for others. I decided it was time. Time for a phone.
Mainly because I could not be waiting at a different bus drop off location or parking lot every week without knowing when exactly the gang would be back or if they were early and waiting on me. I try not to be a helicopter parent, but thinking that my kid was sitting in a parking lot alone waiting for me – threw me over the edge. A phone – it was.
My husband who typically defers to me when it comes to major parenting talks, came up with what I feel was a brilliant talking point in introducing the phone to our son. We presented him with the phone, but explained that it is not ‘his’ but rather ‘ours.’ We were responsible to pay for it, our names were on the contract, and we were obviously the parties who legally owned the phone. Therefore, our son understood that he was borrowing it and his actions with the phone not only affected him, but us, too.
I have to say, the cel phone experiment went great. I enjoyed a worry-free summer regarding pickups and drop offs, and went on to see my son learn responsible phone manners (both texting and gasp – calling – which they only do once in a while) over the last year. The phone resides in our kitchen when not being used out of the house, and yes – I periodically glance at the texts. Who knew that there could be that many texts over the NBA finals?
This summer, the dynamic changed a bit. At 11&1/2 and 9 years old, we were beginning to allow the boys to go out on a bike ride together or run their lemonade stand around the corner themselves. This came with a whole new set of worries and difficult decisions. I feel strongly it is important to teach our kids independence, yet a phone seems to be a necessary evil for these scenarios. With this thought came thoughts of a smart phone with a GPS tracker. Either that or an undercover spy.
Summertime ushers in a new school grade and increased freedom each year for our kids, except as a parent I never let go of my safety concerns!! Which is why I am dabbling with the idea to get a smart phone for JB at almost twelve years old (like the HTC One S, I am trying it and I like it), and truthfully, I need to know more. Which is why when I was asked to host an event for T-Mobile during which they were going to show-off their suite of safety apps and products, I jumped at the opportunity.
This Wednesday (6/27), I am excited to host and ATTEND an event at T-Mobile in Pittsburgh (at East Side) and demo their Family Where app that allows parents to set alarms to remind their tweens that it is time to do something (like come home), the Mobile Family Life Organizer with shared grocery lists (hello!!!) and Web Guard apps . I would love to see each and every one of you there (you can register for the event here). There will be apps-style food and fun with apps, and of course, swag bags and prizes.
Don’t worry if you don’t have kids (yet), there is a whole host of apps to protect our data on our phones that T-Mobile will also be sharing, like Lookout Mobile Security to backup your photos (hint!!).
How do you use wireless devices to keep your kid(s) safe during the summer months? (in the pink comments section below)
….for a chance to WIN a Springboard Tablet ($429 value – which if I won, I could watch Mad Men all day streaming through Netflix). Ok, I would work a bit on it, too.
Winner selected at random on Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 10 p.m. EST.
Disclosure: I am being compensated by T-Mobile to participate in the Safe Summers Campaign, which is of great importance to me. All photos courtesy T-Mobile.