January 15, 2012

Stop buying kids a phone

Listen, I'm not qualified to call you bad parents; I made four parenting mistakes of my own before breakfast this morning (No. 4: "Yes, yes I do think smoking cigarettes will make you look cool to the other fourth-graders").

Tell me why, though, an 11-year-old needs a cellphone? Because your kid's phone is making my kid want a phone, and I don't want to give him one.

I realize that waiting until 11 already puts me on the fringe of society. There are hundreds of thousands of 8-year-olds already texting their hearts away. Still, even at my son's advanced age, I don't understand why the cellphone is a necessity.

Who does he really, really have to call at any hour of the day? He can reach his friends using our home phone any time. If he's at school, he's not supposed to be using a cellphone. That accounts for more than 90 percent of his time.

He can't use a phone during practices or scout meetings or swim lessons. If he's at a friend's house, it's almost certain that his friend's family owns a telephone.

We feed him, so he doesn't need to call for pizza. We rarely let him drive alone, so he doesn't have to worry about calling AAA when he breaks down on a deserted road.

The modern cellphone is an amazing technological achievement, but it doesn't seem like my son is really ready for an advanced form of communication.

Heck, we're still not completely comfortable with him answering the home phone. Sometimes when it rings he'll pick it up and just listen. A simple "hello" would be fine, but often if he says anything at all it's "What?" "Huh?" or "Who is this?"

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