Kids Don’t Need Cell Phones

My daughter won't get the chance to ignore me while texting anytime soon

I think I finally understand why parents buy their children cell phones. It’s because they’ve run out of other ideas for gifts. My daughter is about to turn 10, and I feel like we’re in no-man’s land. She’s too old for most toys and too young for serious electronics. The only thing she wants is a cell phone. And it’s tempting. Almost.

Of course, she has no one to phone. This child has never actually gone to our landline, picked it up and called up a friend to chat. She still asks me to make her play dates. I have to use a whip and chair to get her to call family members. She’s only ever called my cell phone to reach me one time when she couldn’t find something. We’re not apart a lot, and she’s not involved in any activity that requires her to reach me from remote locales. Need is not a factor here. [SIGNUP]

My daughter’s friends are the key to this problem. They all have cell phones. Most of them have had them for years. Some of them have lost theirs already or never really used it to begin with. Others get constant calls from their helicopter parents and some like to text constantly, like when I take them to dinner in a restaurant, which makes me want to reach over, swipe the phone from their sticky paws and hit them on the head with it. Who the hell do 9-year-olds text anyway? And shouldn’t basic manners precede advanced communication technology?

Speaking of texting, I can’t figure out any good that can come of my daughter ever having access to a form of communication she can engage in surreptitiously. Sexting, cyber-bullying, texting in class or other inappropriate places, the distraction from more important things and not actually having to speak to people all add up to NO. As in, no, I am not paying for any piece of electronic equipment that allows you to text. Nobody’s life has been saved by text messaging, as far as I’ve heard. Hlp Im in tgrs mth!? Unlikely.

A cell phone is really about a new level of freedom. The freedom to communicate without parental involvement. When faced with these issues, my only frame of reference is the age-old question, “what would I have done?” And unfortunately for my daughter, the answer is: phone people! To ask them if their refrigerator is running, of course. Or to call Bobby Lister and hang up with not-at-all obvious frequency. I would have done what all kids should do with too much freedom—abuse it. Which is exactly what I would expect from my child and, therefore, she’s getting another type of phone for her birthday; a pair of tin cans and some string (okay, and maybe a skateboard). Being a have-not builds character. And at least I have a reprieve until she turns 11.