We took the plunge last weekend and bought the twins phones. I hated to do it, and I wished that we could have waited just a bit longer. They’ll be thirteen next week, and I thought they were still just a bit young. I was hoping for another year or two before we had to get them phones. However, with them going away for a band trip, they needed to be able to stay in contact with us.
We looked at maybe getting them a pay as you go phone, but the prices actually ended more expensive than adding them to our current plan. Throughout all this, I was thinking in the back of my mind all the pitfalls that come with teenagers having a phone, starting with social media and ending with all the various beeps and dings as they get text after text.
First, we had to lay down some ground rules. They can’t take them to their bedrooms at night. I don’t want them playing with them all night. In an effort to control that, I have their chargers in my room, and I take them for charging each evening. Then they can get them in the morning. If they put passwords on the phones, I need to know them, also.
There’s one thing I will not do, though, at least as it stands right now. I will not track their every move on the phones. I know spouses who track each other and parents who track their kids. Everything they do. I don’t believe in that at all. At some point, if you’ve taught your children the difference between right and wrong. You have to hope that they get at least a little bit of that.
Yes, kids will push those rules just to see how far they can go. We’ve all done it. We need to protect our kids, but we shouldn’t overprotect them. If they don’t make some mistakes, they will be totally unprepared for life when it’s their turn to strike out on their own. At the same time, it can’t be a total free for all. There is a delicate balance.
I honestly hate the idea of the girls having a phone. Thankfully, I know one of the girls will be really good with the phone. She is a rule follower for the most part. She keeps a daily planner so that she can keep everything straight between school, dance, and other activities that she does. The other twin? She’s a space cadet. There is no structure there. She’s exactly like me -- no plans, just go with it. That drives me crazy sometimes, and now I know what my parents probably felt as I was growing up.
Cell phones were not something that my parents had to deal with when I was young. When I was the same age as the twins, cell phones came in a suitcase and weighed more than my seven year old. My parents had to worry about Slurpee overdoses and whether I should get an aluminum bat for my almost negligible baseball skills. I suppose some parents had concerns about teenage sexual encounters. My parents didn’t have to worry about with me. Trust me. We’ll leave it at that.
Who knows what my kids will have to worry about when they become parents. My guess is virtual reality. (To be honest with you, I’m hoping to have a holodeck like the one on Star Trek:The Next Generation. I have a great attic for it.) What about our great-grandparents? Were they overly excited about the prospect of horseless carriage? Going over 10 miles per hour might destroy the human body. Next thing you know, they’ll want indoor plumbing.
Craig Bacon will replace the twins’ cell phones if the need arises with two cans and some string. It worked for me.