Yesterday, a blog friend asked why my husband and I feel cell phones are “bad” for our kids. I’d like to share with you the “why” behind our decision.
First, we don’t think cell phones are necessarily bad for kids. We just don’t think they need them before they are driving. When they begin driving—usually at 16—we get them a cell phone. They will need it for safety purposes, at that point.
Second, it’s an “access” issue. When kids have a cell phone, it suddenly takes the parent out of the middle and gives kids direct access to one another. Because my 13-year-old doesn’t have a phone, I know who he’s talking to on the phone, because they have to call the house phone. If he occasionally wants to text someone, he uses my phone. A personal cell phone gives kids an independance in communication that they are not always mature enough to handle. And it gives other kids access to them in a way that I’m not willing to risk.
Third, we can’t afford it. Adding another line to the family plan requires us to add more minutes. Those kinds of expenses add up and we’d rather feed our children than provide them a cell phone just because everyone else has one.
I will admit, there are times that our decision is inconvenient. Yes, there are occasions that I wish I could call my student…like when I’m running behind to pick them up from somewhere. I also know of families who do the cell phone thing because they no longer have a home phone. But even then, some families choose to do a cell phone that simply stays at home rather than one that each kid carries around.
And honestly, our “age 16/driving” boundary has become harder with each of our children. Why? Because culture is changing. When we set the “age 16/driving” boundary with our older kids almost 10 years ago, every kid on the block didn’t have a cell phone. Now my 13-year-old and 15-year-old are indeed a rarity.
But Mark and I refuse to stoop to adult peer pressure. In fact, that’s why we wrote the next Hearts at Home book, Living With Less So Your Family Has More. (It will release in February 2010.)
We alone will decide what’s best for our kids. And for the Savage’s, we’ve decided that having a phone before we have determined you actually “need” one is one parenting boundary we currently have in place.

PS. For my reader who shared the post with her 15-year-old son who wanted to know what an “early” bedtime was for my boys. It’s 8:30-8:45pm. Your 9:15pm bedtime should look really good for your son now!

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