What Happened to Plain-Old Talking?

I had a great conversation with friends the other day about the current craze of children and text- messaging. 

I must admit, I am so CLUELESS when it comes to using this feature on my cell phone.  If I had to text to save my life, I probably wouldn’t be here right now.

But the discussion was mostly geared towards what each person felt the appropriate age was to allow our children to:

a) Have a cell phone


b) Use the texting option with friends

Since my kids are only six and eight years old, I’ll have to admit I haven’t thought about the whole texting phenomenon much until now.  I must say it kind of worries me and freaks me out.  But the conversation was very intense and provocative but mostly interesting.  It made think about something I had not been considering as a parent.

One of the concerns was texting potentially allows children to say things to each other they may not have said otherwise.  Is this good or bad?  If it’s sexual innuendos, predatory or bullying I think it’s horrific.  If it’s genuinely telling each other how they feel about something in a constructive way, it’s good.  But are kids really doing that?  Honestly, I really don’t know. 

It seems texting has become the modern-day channel for communicating instead of the old-fashioned methods of note-passing, whispering in someone’s ear or just talking. 

I think texting and cell phone usage has put another twist on parenting.  To text or not to text? 

Allowing a child to use text messaging may vary for different reasons and that’s okay. 

You may have a child who is mature and responsible or this might be the only method you have available to keep in touch.  It’s going to be very different for everyone.

Do you let your child have a cell phone and text because everyone else has one and is doing it?

Has anyone had a good or bad experience as a result of using the texting form of communication?  

I would love to know at what age you feel it is appropriate to give your child a cell phone and if you let them text or not.

Does cell usage depend on the child or is it a rite of passage to have this technology at their fingertips?

I know so many questions!  Sorry.  I’m just really curious about everyone’s overall experience.

Of course every generation looks back at the previous one as if living during those times was less than civilized.  It just seems like kids are more precocious with technology yet may lack responsibility in its usage.

I just know my hooligans are going to ask me for a cell phone someday and want to use it to text all their buddies.  I want to respond with a decision that is rational and keeps them safe.

I would probably allow them a cell phone and put certain restrictions on its use, with no texting allowed.  But by not allowing them to text am I then setting them up to be an outcast?  I lack all the answers here.

Hopefully those of you with experience can shed some light on this debacle.

I love conversations that make me think about things I hadn’t previously considered.

Post a Comment


  1. I had to learn how to text so I could talk to my kids. I fought it as well, but eventually gave in to unlimited text plans. Otherwise you get $800 bills. No joke. I just pray I’ve taught them enough to behave and honor their own boundaries. Pray.

  2. I let my daughter have a go phone when she turned 8….it has a tracking device in it, and I honestly felt that her having this phone in her back pack was a very safe thing to do. With the state of the world today, I want to make sure she can reach me or 911 at the drop of a hat. If something happened at school imagine how much help it would be if some of the kids had cells. I know most things happen in high schools, but she goes to a private school that is 1-12.. she was so responsible with the phone that she never used her minutes and they all expired….( I told her when I got it, I would buy so many minutes a month, after that she had to pay)

    I’m actually going to add her to my phone plan before school starts so that way I can text her, I text a lot with friends, my husband :P, and even for work. Sometimes it’s just easier for me anyway.

    I choose to pick my battles…in the grand scheme of life will a cellphone or texting cause harm, in my opinion no, I’ve instilled values and beliefs in my children, and at some point I will have to trust them to be the little people that they need to be. Now of course there will be limits and consequences if those limits are exceeded.

    I just think texting is part of the new age…it’s like when I first started instant messaging and my parents thought that was crazy! lol

  3. Marcy 3

    Well, Nicole is 9, about to be 10 in November and we got her a cell phone around Easter time. She is on the family plan and we can pretty much set on her phone what she can and can’t do.. She doesn’t know how to text, and I just learned last year, lol.
    The main reason we got it is that she is going to her uncles then summer camp and will be gone for two and a half weeks. The camp counselor will hold their phones and check them periosdically to see if they have messages, then they will let the child check their phone. She is allowed to call me ( mom), her dad, both grandmas, and 2 friends, thats all she can call on her phone. So far it has worked well. She remembers to keep it charged and everything, but that is also the first thing to get taken away when she does something she isn’t suppose to. It is a privilege and not a necessity ( except for camp).
    I’m sure as she gets a bit older she will learn how to text, but hopefully not too soon.

  4. My kids are only two and unborn so is it wrong that I’m kind of hoping the texting phenomena disappears before I have to worry about it?

    Although I’m not sure the future holds anything with lesser parental/ethical implications.

  5. The goals that I set for raising my girls were basic. By the time they got to the age to have risky behaviors, I wanted to have made a greater impression on them than the pressure their friends might exert. In other words, the early years would be prime time for helping them form standards to live by and it would see them through the peer pressure teen years.
    I think it worked pretty well, especially with number two, who was very social and hung with cheer leaders and did drill team… She had a good foundation, and I think she risked a little less and was a good communicator. We talked openly about drinking and sex and drugs and she was very clear that the issue was safety first.
    While there wasn’t much texting with her, there was instant chat, and yeah, it allowed them to communicate in non verbal ways. But I don’t think it made things any worse in terms of harassing or flirting with each other.
    And yes, she was flirting with the uncool label until we got her a phone. And I totally think that’s a kid by kid thing, not age related.
    Now that she’s in college and buys her own phone plan, she texts a lot. She texts me a lot. I’ve learned to enjoy it. It’s not as loud and disruptive as a phone call when I’m at work and I can easily get the facts: “are you home”, “How was the test” and “what do you want for dinner”!

  6. In January of this year, I finally gave in and replied to a txt from my sister on my cell phone. I actually called my cell phone company first to see what my plan was, and whattyaknow…unlimited texting. Pretty cool. So, I jumped on the bandwagon. My sister and I communicate a lot that way, but we also talk to each other often. (She lives in another state.)

    My other sister has four boys: ages 8, 6, 4, and 1. (They live way out in the country where txting and cell phone service is spotty at best.) When we saw them last week, I asked the oldest if he wanted a cell phone. You would have thought I asked a used car salesman if he had any good deals he could show me. He started rattling off the different types of phones and their plans and how SO MANY of his friends had them. His mom and dad were shocked that he’d done so much research. (They knew he wanted a phone, they just didn’t know how prepared he was with the info.) They said he can’t have one yet. “Maybe when you start driving.”

    Oddly enough, my hubby is a tech guy and doesn’t have a cell phone. He refuses to carry one. He hates them. When he travels overseas, he has one, but not when he’s stateside. Personally, I get jumpy if I don’t have mine with me and will usually turn the car around to go back and get it. :)

    What will I do when Claire is older? She’s 2. I don’t know. Maybe by then, phones will be like a cochlear implant, a chip they install in your head, and it will be easy for me to tell her no. No surgical procedures until you’re 18…and you can have a friend drive you…and you have a job so you can pay for it yourself. Kidding! I don’t see a problem with cell phones. I see a problem with people who put ALL of their trust in a cell phone. I think it should be viewed on a case by case basis. Phones should be a tool to aid in communication, not replace it. I’m not saying she can’t have one when she’s 10. (And, I’m not saying she can. We’ll see.) I just don’t want it to trump her or my responsibilities.

  7. I don’t have kids, but I was one, and I do think about technology and its social implications a lot.

    I think texting is, as you alluded to, the modern equivalent to note-passing. It’s a murky world being a kid anyway; there’s tons available to get you (mostly the influence of friends) but it’s not going to be the technology that determines the trouble.

    Parents worried about the home telephone just as much, and then the car, and then beepers and text-free cell phones. Anything that provides kids a little new freedom is naturally scary.

    As long as the kids have smart parents like you, they’ll be as safe as they can be.

  8. JulenaJo 8

    My kids got a cell phone when they were old enough to be out with friends and parental supervision was slacking off: i.e. when they were old enough to walk to McDonald’s or the local Dollar Store with a friend. That way they could contact me and visa versa. I soon found out that the cell phone allowed them to “check in” without my knowing where they actually were. Not good. I am not above requesting a call from a parent to verify things.
    Text messaging in public is just as rude as whispering. That being said, kids are just kids. They will be rude on occasion. There are things they don’t want mom and dad to hear/know. Technology moves at breakneck speed. My 19 year old uses her cell phone and Facebook. It used to be instant messenger and My Space. The 15 year old uses her phone to text friends and acquaintances almost exclusively, and is rarely on the computer, except to do a quick check of her My Space. I suppose cell texting, too, will be passe soon. Backstabbing, gossip and sexual innuendo are rampant with or without texting and the Internet. Kids have always been highly sexual and unfathomably cruel to each other. Eventually they outgrow it or end up in jail. It’s just now the MEDIA puts an alarm out and whips the world into a frenzy over every societal blemish. I am not going to let that kind spin brainwash me. Kids are kids. By and large the majority are wonderful. :)

  9. Lore 9

    Since I don’t have kids I’ve never wondered about that but I believe it mainly depends on how mature the child really is.

  10. Jules 10

    I got my son a phone when he turned 12. I work for the cell phone company, so people always laughed when they found out that he didn’t have a phone and I worked for the company. It is a free phone, so I have it really easy when it comes down to it. He doesn’t text much, especially when I told him that he couldn’t text because it cost too much. (Of course it really didn’t, but what he didn’t know certainly didn’t hurt him!) I also have reserved the right to check all messages and email that he receives. I do spot checks, I don’t look at it everyday, but he knows that I do make the checks. He is 13, so I am sure as he gets older he will text more and more. My 17 year old nephew is a fiend with the texting.

  11. Philly 11

    I used to be Textually challenge, however there was a texting class at my home the other evening and now I can text with the best of them


  12. My 3 oldest kids (14,12 and 10)have cell phones. I actually like it because I can constantly stay in touch w/ them so it’s eliminated a lot of anxiety for me! I also find texting to be a helpful “checking in” tool–I can ask them quick questions while they’re at school w/out calling and being disruptive.

    I second the idea of an unlimited texting plan–we found that out the hard way!

    I do think texting has become an important social element w/ kids today–so I have to say: when you feel your kids are old enough to have a cell phone, let them text!

  13. My daughter is 14 and has had a cell phone since the 6th grade. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel much more secure knowing that she has it and that she can always reach me and I, her. Also, her phone has a GPS feature so that her location can be tracked in an emergency.

    The texting is a necessary evil, but it’s worth putting up with it for my peace of mind. Restricting it would definitely be a social negative for her. FWIW, I do check her in and out boxes regularly to make sure that everything is kosher.

  14. leslie 14

    OHHHHH.I cant stand when I see a CHILD texting. When I see a kid texting the whole time they are out to dinner with the family, I just want to go rip the phone out the their hands and throw it at their parents heads! (I am really not violent..LOL) It is just plane RUDE RUDE RUDE

  15. You have very insightful readers. Frontline did a show about internet usage and how computers have created the largest generation gap since rock and roll. That struck a chord with me.

    We held Drama Queen off until she was almost 13. Finally, I relented, because I needed to be able to contact her. At first, NO texting allowed, but eventually, I sat her down and had a long talk about texting and what was acceptable. Oh the eye rolling! We don’t seem to have too many problems with her, but it’s probably because we are “totally too strict.”

    I’m getting used to the texting, might even learn how to do it, but you know what really freaks me out? IM. Ugh.

  16. Both my step kids (16 & 19) have had phones for a few years. I remember The Girl begging for one since her brother had one (he was away at boarding school throughout hs) then never having it when the adults wanted to get in touch with her. As the chauffeur, I’m glad they have them and sometimes I just send a text to let them know what time I’ll be there. I do think texting has killed communication skills. My step-daughter is often down right rude on the phone and comes across as less intelligent than she is. She is a bright girl, and can be well spoken, but put her on the phone and I get “Hi. (long pause) umm, I’m done”
    I often force her into conversations and make her say “Can you please come pick me up” (In the car she holds normal conversations and says “Thanks for the ride”)
    As for the rest of the stuff with texting, you need to make sure that your kids understand that the impersonal nature makes it easier to offend, as it does in email and blog comments.
    Keep raising them right and being concerned and you’ll be fine.
    sorry for the novel!

  17. Recently there was a scary story making the rounds about a 14 year old who stayed home sick from school while her mom went to work. When two people broke into the house, she burrowed under the covers of her bed and texted her mother, who called 911 and rushed home in time to smash into the getaway car. It happened just a few weeks ago, so you can easily google it.

    I think this is an extreme example, but I see texting as one more tool, and I’ve talked to my almost-12 daughter about it a lot now that she has a new cell phone. My policy is – “anytime, anywhere, just call and I’ll be there.” So if she ends up at a friend’s house or in a situation where she feels uncomfortable (drinking, drugs, sexual pressure, whatever) for any reason, she can text or call me and I’ll show up.

    My original reason for getting her a phone was the unpredictable nature of her play rehearsals. I never thought I’d get any of my kids a cell phone (I hate mine) but I’ve done a complete 180.

  18. My kids are so darn old I can’t even begin to offer an opinion on this. Do know one thing – the only person my kids (all in their 20’s) actually verbally call anymore is moi. I don’t mind getting text messages, I just hate sending them. Of course it takes me an hour to text “hello”. It would be the next day before I had anything I could send! My hubby even texts faster than me. The nerve of him!

    Good luck with your quandry. Like most things, if there’s good parental supervision, it will more likely than not be just fine.

  19. leslie 19

    me as the new Tastespotter??? Great idea..but I am completly computer stupid! I would have no clue how to even begin that!!!

  20. This comment will be long – I have LOTS to say on this subject – haha

    Well I was in the same boat as you when Zac was younger. At 9 years old a friend of ours said he wanted to get Zac a phone and I said, “no way, what does he need that for and who’s going to pay for this phone that he’ll probably lose anyhow?”. Well our friend paid for the phone and the service for the first year. Zac had to learn to be responsible and amazingly enough – he didn’t lose it.

    As far as the texting goes – Zac knows that we reserve the right to check his phone at any time (and we do – randomly). I found that he didn’t text as much as I thought he would until he was closer to 11 years old. Even then, I found that the texts that they send really don’t SAY much. Most are, “whatcha doing?” – reply “getting ready to rob the .99 store, wanna come?” – haha funny and stupid really. But ok that’s interacting and it’s what they do.

    Where I will tell ya that it comes in handy is this. Earlier this year Zac was on the bus going to school and it got in a wreck. He called me immediately and we rallied to get someone there (I was at a trade show) – had he not had the phone, then I’d have had to wait for the school to call me and believe me – they didn’t even know about it until “I” called them. It’s really peace of mind. Also – we would let him ride his bike down the way to the park (not that far) and with him having it, I felt better that if something happened, I was only a call away. In fact, one time a weird old man was hanging around and Zac called to ask me to come get him. There – it was worth it.

    Now … here’s the advice that will save you (besides the I can check it AND WILL at any time). Kids today are very savvy. If the phone has a camera – they can capture ANYTHING they want – even if it’s not rated PG. We found porn pictures on the cell phone this year – yes … so when you do get the phones think about the camera option and be sure that you instill the “I can check the phone” rule from the very beginning.

    When they are old enough to pay for their own phone and bill – then you won’t be able to enforce that rule, but until then, it gives you a little bit of protection. They can still delete stuff, but I find that they really don’t delete … they like to refer back to it over and over again with their friends.

  21. So funny you should post on this topic as this just came up the other day as Hubby’s son went over his alloted text amounts!! We said to him you know you could just pick up the PHONE and he looked at us with a blank look like are you kiddin me!! I think that so much texting has hindered social skills a lot these days – They ask each other on dates via texting and they break up via texting. To me that is a dangerous area as the kids are not learning how to communicate or even how to handle conflict resolution nothing is face to face.
    The other way I have really noticed a change is in business – My clients never call me anymore – They only email or text. To me (old school) to be good and effective you need face time and “real” communication. It keeps you connected and keeps them in the from of the pack.
    Great timing on this as this is a constant conversation topic – The blessings and the curses of modern technology.


  22. krysta 22

    I’m an old school mom. My 16 year old has a cell phone but she doesn’t use it, I have one that’s broke and never had it replaced, when I get away, I want to be left alone. My 12,11, and 10 year old want one but when I ask them why, there’s no good or valid reason. Sorry folks, kids and kidnappers know how to disable the traking decive or they will just throw them out the window so that’s really not a good reason to give them one. Seriously let’s think about this what did people do before cell phones? They survived, kids were fine and probably more independent when their parents weren’t in contact with them every two seconds. I’m going to trust my parenting skills and trust them until they prove me wrong. Cell phones suck and texting is even worse. Kids can’t spell, my daughters English teacher had to tell them that LOL is not acceptable and these are the ‘smart’ kids. Can you tell I hate cell phones?

  23. Teri 23

    My daughter, now 12, was sure that she would be the outcast at 8 (my drama queen extraordinaire) if she did not receive a cell phone. My dilemma, I didn’t get my son one till he was 11, so if I get one for her now, he will surely bring it up to me! They always do!

    I did get her one at 8, but didn’t get unlimited texting because I underestimated the powers of an 8 year old girls technical abilities! Okay, Cathy, you can re-lable that extra trophy you have sitting in your house the IDIOT MOM of the year! My bill was ridiculous, I called the company and told them this was some sort of mistake, they said, no mistake ma’am, so will you be using your credit card to be pay your bill today? If you get phones for your hooligans, Don’t and I repeat, DON’T underestimate their technical abilities to be able to figure out how to text and send pictures (i still don’t know how)! Get UNLIMITED texting!

    It is a great safety tool, you can always track them down when you need to. Say they are at a friends house and you need to pick them up… you just give them a call and let them know you are on your way! I love it because my daughter was notorious for making me wait whenever I would pick her up from a friends. She would conveniently misplace her shoes, jackets, etc. Now I just call when I am on the way and tell her to find it before I get there.

    Also, remember you are the parent and if you ever feel that you don’t like what is going on with the texting conversation, you can ask to see it. Remind them that with the phone comes a responsibility and if they break certain rules (or their friends), like bullying, or bad language, etc. you will suspend their phone usage. My daughter had hers take away once, and that worked like a charm!

    Good luck!

  24. Deborah 24

    I don’t have kids yet, so I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do when I have them. It kind scares me – knowing everything that is out there, but at the same time, there is a lot of good that comes from the new technology.

    My husband and I actually text quite a bit. I can’t be on the phone with him a lot at work, but texting is fast and easy. I feel like we get to converse a lot more than we normally would during the day, which I really love. But then if there is ever a fight or disagreement, I hate that it we usually end up texting because we don’t want to talk to each other. So I guess you just have to learn to take the good with the bad.

  25. My two oldest (17 and 15) got cell phones for Christmas. We bought them mainly so they could call and let us know where they are or so we can get in touch with them when either we or they are out and about. We also like for them to take a cell phone down to feed the horses as accidents can happen. (Our neighbor was knocked down and rolled on by a colicking mare and his leg was broken in several places leaving him to crawl back to the house and a phone.) The other reason we got the kids cell phones was because it is increasingly difficult to think of presents that will thrill teenagers without breaking the bank or giving in to something you don’t want them to have. Texting is disabled on their phones because a) it can get expensive and b) I think it’s a waste of time and there are already plenty of those.

    As for sexual innuendo and other nasty stuff kids may send via texting, parents are naive to think those things won’t be said otherwise. I remember being a teen before everyone had a PC and the internet and cell phones (The Dark Ages) and those things were even said among good kids.

    My 11 1/2yo and 14yo do not have cell phones yet. They don’t need them. 11yodd has asked for one several times since girls as young as 8 on her gymnastics team have them. I find that a bit ridiculous. I know what the parents’ reasoning is. They want their kids to be able to call them no matter where they are, and I suppose there could be situations where it would be helpful. The fears these parents have, however, are of the same type that make some parents decide against sleepovers and play dates where they cannot be personally present. They see it as protecting their children against potential abuse, but I think there are other ways to do that. The words helicopter parenting come to mind in such cases. For others, it’s just a case of overindulgence and buying the child ever frickin’ gadget that comes onto the market. Either way I say no thanks. When they’re old enough to be going many places on their own or with friends and may need to call because they have a flat tire or some gas or a safe ride home, I think that’s the age to give in to cell phones.

  26. I just skimmed some other comments and I’d like to add that what I said about younger kids with cell phones applies to those I know. Those parents are the ones I question. I can’t speak concerning these other folks I don’t know.

  27. My kids are just 9 and 6 so they aren’t allowed to have phones yet. Our friends who have older children just don’t put restrictions on their phone usage then scratch their heads over the bill. I think if you are going to give you child a phone, it should be for the use of getting ahold of parents, emergencies and the occasional friend phone call. I just don’t believe kids should have free run of it just because it was given to them. Step up and be a parent and limit calls and texting.

  28. Egghead 28

    All my kids are grown so the older three never had the opportunity but our youngest did when she was a senior in high school. We had restrictions….no texting plan because this was for emergencies only. I am a firm believer that they don’t talk while driving and she had to pay her bill if it went over the minutes. If they could not pay the phone goes bye bye. Mean aren’t I? But it taught her responsibility.

  29. Kathy 29

    I think children should be allowed cell phones when they are old enough for you to let them go places unaccompanied by an adult. Until then I just feel it’s unnecessary. I, like you, don’t get the text messaging thing at all. I wonder if there will be any psychological implications from so much texting vs actual conversation on this generation. My daughter assures me she can have conversations with real people also(lol!)

  30. Lennie 30

    Oh gosh, there are soooo many variables here. Is it too expensive for a family to add more cell phones or texting to their plan? Does the child frequently lose stuff? Does the neighbourhood have great coverage (many rural areas have a lot of “dead zones”)?

    Here in Canada there’s a cell phone you can get for children that only has five buttons, so no texting can happen, nor dialing-out to any ol’ number. A button for 911, a button for home, a button for grandma, etc. Only five, if I remember correctly.

    My son is an adult now, but my girlfriend has a daughter (11), and last year when she went up a grade she had to change schools, and that meant taking the public transit here in Toronto (for a relatively short bus ride) from time to time, when a parent couldn’t drive. And on one of those days when no parent was doing the driving, my friend’s daughter and her girlfriend had an “incident” in a parking lot involving older boys in a car. I won’t go into it all, but the end result was that the girl and her friend had to dash into a corner store and beg the store-owner to let them use the phone to call their mothers. I told my friend, your daughter needs a cell phone. Now that she’s big enough to be away from home on her own when not in school, even for short periods of time, give her that lifeline. Last I heard they were considering a cellphone as a birthday gift.

    It all boils down to the family dynamic, I think. If the kids obey the other “technology rules” (like how often they’re allowed on the internet, what channels they shouldn’t watch on tv, etc) at home, then the “cell phone rules” will likely be obeyed too.

  31. Lex the Mom 31

    I am with those who don’t have kids with cell phones. My 13yo has asked for one several times, and while I think in a few circmstances, it may have come in handy – there is no necessity for it in our family.

    Those who have kids that are alwyas on the go & the parents can’t be with them (for sports, camps, etc.) I think it is ideal. My niece & nephew both have them (14 & 16, respectively) and they are constantly texting their friends (and their parents..heh). It does come in handy because both of them are so socially active & they call their mom all the time to let her know what’s going on with them.

    There are pros & cons for everyone. I am always with our 13 yo at his games & stuff, so the only thing we need it for is his checking in when he’s off playing. Again, though – he’s usually right next door. When he is out, he has to physically check in every 2 hours. Our country bumpkin town doesn’t have a lot going on. If he goes to another place, farther away, I’m usually the one dropping him off & picking him up.

    Don’t know that this will help you, but that’s what we got going on.

  32. Lex the Mom 32

    Another reason he doesn’t have a cell phone is because he may just lose it – several times over. Not sure if he could keep track of it well enough.

    He just read this over my shoulder & said “If there’s one thing I would keep track of,it would be a cell phone – especially if I had unlimited texting.” A good time to chuckle…

  33. krysta 33

    an friend of mine… her first grade daughter has a cell phone. what first grader needs a cell phone?

  34. Jill 34

    I haven’t read all the comments, so maybe somebody has spoken to this already…but something that disturbs me almost as much as teenage texting is what happens to the adult parents of teenagers who text

    They seem to develop similar habits, unable to put down their cell phones and actually have a “f2f” conversation. Maybe it’s an attempt to relate to their kids; maybe it’s a midlife crisis response of regression.

    In any case, it’s not pleasant to be the company of Adult-texters, especially because — unlike their children — it’s not that easy to tell them to stop. They’re adults after all, and you can’t ground them for not following your rules.

  35. My husband works with elementary kids, and some of the schools have installed devices that mess with phone signals so they can’t be used on the school grounds. If it’s an emergency people can step outside the school to call. He also recently had a sixth-grade boy who was repeatedly texting “You’re a HOTTIE,” to a fourth-grade girl. Maybe not the worst thing in the world, but at the elementary school this was scandalous.

  36. Tipper 36

    I have all the same questions you do. My girls are 11 and would love to have a phone-but we can’t afford it-I don’t even have one. But when they are out and about on their own I will want them to have one. A few nights ago my husband got a text message (he never uses that feature) and we were surprised that it was a friend of the girls. One of the girls had text messaged the friend first. I said how did you even know how to text? She said she just did. Kids today.

  37. jules 37

    My girls received their phones when they entered high school…since I was probably a helicopter mom back then, they really didn’t need to have a cell phone.

    Re: Texting….early on they had a big lesson on
    e-mail…sayin’ crappy things about people..of course I saw it and explained the importance of respecting this medium…b-cause it will come back to bite you if your don’t:)

  38. sassy 38

    My Grandaughter is 15 and was just allowed to have a cell phone, with text messaging. It is a new family plan, so her mother bought unlimited text messaging. Mom received the first bill, for the first 5 days with the new phones. My Grandaughter Sent and received 173 text messages in 5 days! And she is a beginner. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds, mom keeps a pretty close eye on things. I really think text messaging is a bit rediculous, and something kids really don`t need, but, i`m a little old fashioned. The times are changing fast.

  39. Harmony 39

    My 8 y/o son has been dying to get a cell phone…I have been holding off on it, because I know he will either lose it..or have it taken away at school. Another reason is, that I take him to and from school…and anywhere he needs to go. I am pretty certain that within the next year or two..he will be the proud owner of a cell phone, as he will want to ride his bike to school on his own…and ditch his totally lame mother.

  40. Flea 40

    We’ve been having the cell phone debate for years. Until last summer I could say, “You don’t get one till I get one” (I hate technology). Now we just say no. My 15 year old daughter thinks she’ll die, but I know better.

    There are two arguments which look good when it comes to a cell phone, one being better than the other. The first is a version of, “But everybody has one!” It’s My child lives in the real world and the other children have one so my child must. Uh huh. No. The second is the issue of the kids being at events – be it concerts, band, sports, overnights, whatever – and needing to contact home. See argument one. My kids use their friends’ cell phones because practically everyone DOES have them.

    Our reason to say no? Our daughter was in the middle of some trouble at school recently. Bad group of girls, she wrote a note to a boy – rather vulgar – and put one of the girl’s cell number on it. Got us thinking about kids being away from home and using their phones for who knows what conversations or texting. About friends using their phone for who knows what purpose.

    For me it’s like dating too early. I put it to my son like this: Sex is like cheesecake. If you wait till after dinner (marriage) to take it out of the fridge, it will be fantastic. You’ll have had the yummy meat and veggies and will appreciate the cheesecake. But if you sit at the table at breakfast and have to stare at that cheesecake all day, you’re going to wind up grabbing a fork, convincing yourself a little bite won’t hurt. By lunch you’ll have eaten an entire cheesecake.

    Sorry to soapbox. With two teens full of hormones raging, this is a conversation we have frequently. Quite frankly, I don’t trust them. I shouldn’t. Not all at once. But I think it’s because I know my kids. Maybe next year.

  41. Erin 41

    Our daughter got a cell phone from her grandfather two years ago, when she was 12, as she is constantly at dance or ice skating practice or her grandparents or the pool or pretty much anywhere that gets her away from her “lame” parents. We wanted her to have one so that she could get in contact with us in case of emergency. I have to tell you, I rue the day that the cell phone ever came into our house. Friends call all hours. Her ringtone (“Sexy, can I”, which, in and of itself, opens a whole new can of worms) is so loud that it wakes everyone in the house(did I mention that I have a theory that teenagers go deaf until they are around 25?). The first time we kept her from answering a text IN CHURCH she had a coronary (and then got grounded for a week). The phone is her entire life, so much so that I do believe that if kept from it for more than a day, her entire social life collapses into a pool of nothingness. On the bright side, it sure is fun to take it away from her when she is grounded! We have not allowed our 10 year old to have a phone yet, and have decided that when we do, it will be prepaid and when the minutes run out, they run out.

  42. It probably would have been a whole lot cheaper to have given younger son a cell phone with unlimited minutes in evenings with him paying the monthly bill, than it was with him running up landline phone bills when he was younger, of $200-$250 a month calling his girlfriends all around the U.S.!

    He had to pay for every dollar of those calls out of his own job money (paper route) and he finally caught on how much it was costing him…

  43. steven smallwood 43

    I imagine the start of telephones had parents frustrated at a new pace of life. Automobiles, cell phones, computers. I would much rather text than call someone. I think the phone conversation alienates the-human-to interaction more than the text does. The anathema is in communication by electronics. Reduce it by brevity and the succinctnesses of the written word. Also, this is not an age in which you learn technology; you have to accept and use each step in order to survive and understand future generations. I say give your kids phones. Think of it as the grammar to a necessary, worldwide language.

  44. giz 44

    It has not been my experience that the text message function is being used for other than quick messages – after all it is retrievable information if it creates a problem. Also, it’s hard on the fingers. I’d be more worried about carpel tunnel syndrome.

    My son gave me hell – Mom – why didn’t you return my message. Mom; I didn’t get a message. Son: I sent you a text, Mom: So who knows about text messaging??

  45. julenajo 45

    I agree with you, Steven. It’s the pace of life and we “old fogies” might as well embrace it. I have a couple of points to make: #1-Texting IS communication, and given that it is, it has NOT made our kids uncommunicative. #2-My daughters have both been in social situations where they texted me to call them and tell them I was coming to pick them up–that they HAD to be home. The allowed them to save face in uncomfortable situations without having to endure ridicule of their peers. They would not have called me to ask for a ride home for fear of being overheard. That has made me 100% in favor of them having cell phones. It has also made me much more tolerant of ANYONE texting at ANY time. Sure, it’s often as rude as whispering behind someone’s back. But sometimes it isn’t. I’d rather judge someone favorably than not.

  46. Texting has only become popular in the last few years so I don’t know what the guidelines would have been then. As for the cell phone my daughter received her first phone when she was 14 and working at a summer camp. She started with a Pay as You Go plan where you buy minutes, so if she used her minutes she would have to buy more. If she was going somewhere before that and we needed to get hold of her she was able to borrow our phone to take with her.My daughter is 21 and things have changed with more technology but I still like my guidelines. Friends have had to pay 100’s of dollars in cell phone bills for that extra ounce of security.

  47. I hate talking on the phone so texting is wonderful, for me. My mom (in Oregon) and I (in Massachusetts) text several times each day. She’s in her 70’s, by the way – I’m proud of her! We send each other pictures cell phone to cell phone, too. LOVE IT. Living in the country, cell coverage is spotty, but a text message will often go through when a call won’t.

    Regarding kids and cell phones: my mind was made up two summers ago, when in two separate incidents 12 year old girls were kidnapped and were only rescued because they were able to text. I got my daughter a cell phone shortly after that.

    I have to say, she has been very responsible and doesn’t abuse it. I usually have to remind her to take it.
    She has even texted me when she spent the night at a girl’s home and felt uncomfortable. She texted me (privately) to please come get her but don’t let the family know she wanted to come home.

    She has also been a passenger in a car when the driver (A friend’s mom) had car trouble during a snow storm. She was able to call me.

    I don’t think I’d send a kid out into the world without one these days.

  48. I’d also like to add, that due to so many people having cell phones now, the number of pay phones has reduced considerably. Even along our interstates, they have removed much of the emergency call boxes.

    I myself had car trouble one winter day and of COURSE it was the day I forgot my cell at home. I couldn’t find a pay phone anywhere.

  49. Ruth 49

    hmmm.. bit of a difficult question really! I think i was about 14 by the time cell phones became really ‘essential’ and so i never had the problem of wanting one too young.
    personally i prefer texting because it gives me time to work out what I want to say, and im not keen on talking on the phone as i like to be able to see someones face as i talk.

    i’d say you need to be more careful about newer things like WAP and bluetooth which would let people send your child photos, etc (with bluetooth you dont even need someones number, you can send files to anyone within a certain distance ho also has their bluetooth activated)
    also, alot of things online say ‘enter your number for a free ringtone’ but the fine print is that you get subscribed to messages that charge you, or send you internet links…

    so yes, be careful but i dont think text messaging is too risky. im not even sure if you CAN disable texting on a phone, but just make sure you dont buy them one with lots of file sharing extras.

  50. Our kids are 19, 18 and almost 16. The two older ones got cell phones two years ago and had to pay for any fees above the minutes they had (and they really shouldn’t have gone over because they had a lot). At first we did not allow texting but we added a limited text plan just to the kids’ phones last fall. We got our son a cell phone in January.

    I did not know how to text for a long time. But, I learned and found that it was a lot easier for me to communicate with the kids when they are at school or out. Just a couple of nights ago, we got our bill and my husband and I had some hefty charges for our texting… and we just text each other and the kids most of the time. My son kept sending me pictures he took with his phone in Biology… yeah, one day a worm… another day a frog… another day a rat… ugh! It added up. My husband called and switched us to an unlimited text plan that includes pictures.

    I have to say, it is pretty nice. Sometimes I’ll get a text that just says, “Hi Mom.” I have a lot of difficulty being heard when I’m on my cell phone, so texting is nice.

  51. I’m not a parent so it is hard to put texting in the context of parenthood. That said, texting is a convenient way to relay quick thoughts/messages. Email may not be immediately available (although blackberry is changing that) & people may not be available to answer the phone. A quick check of a received text message is very practical.

    Not only do I think you should not prevent your children from texting, but I think you should give it a try yourself. ;)

  52. I was gonna say something, but it looks like all the words have been used up – wow! looks like you hit a hot one!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.

You can click here to Subscribe without commenting