Q: My 11-year-old daughter keeps begging me for her own cell phone. She claims "all her friends have them", and I admit, it seems most of them do. Should I get her one?
Uncertainly Cellular in Spokane, WA
A: Dear Uncertainly Cellular,
Did you give her the age-old parenting response, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” Alas, it rarely works…
First, remember that cell phones are tools. Sit down with your daughter and ask what she’d like to use it for. Tell her how you would like to see her use it, and what is off limits—like texting while crossing the street or sending sexual images to friends. Having this conversation will allow you to set expectations from your side and from hers. It can also help you determine whether it is, in fact, time for your daughter to have a cell phone.
If after this conversation you do not feel that your daughter is ready for this responsibility, it is okay to say no. Clever marketing has convinced parents that every kid needs a cell phone for safety’s sake, but the fact of the matter is that there are many other ways to call for help. And if safety is your main concern, it is far more important to teach your daughter to be confident in an emergency than to provide her with a phone. This confidence will serve her well even if she doesn’t have a phone, or if it is lost or unavailable.
If you do decide to get your daughter a cell phone, emphasize that having one is a privilege and
a responsibility, and that if she misuses the phone, she will lose both.
>>See the upsides and downsides to cell phones
Enjoy your media and use them wisely,