We got DC1 a cell phone

DC1 is 9 and in 6th grade.  There’s a lot of extracurricular activities and so on in 6th grade and we decided we’d be more comfortable if DC1 had a way of contacting us if something fell through or there was a miscommunication about pick-up etc.

When we finally decided to bite the bullet to add hir to our plan, we discovered that Ting had added the ability to add all four of our retired outdated dumb phones to the plan.  Back last year when we switched to Ting we actually had to buy new phones which is both why it took us so long to switch and why I am now addicted to an iphone.  But we were pleasantly surprised that we didn’t have to buy a new phone this time.  Zie is using my 2 phones ago phone because it has the strongest battery (I had bought a replacement battery right before DH decided to get new free phones when we renewed our plan many years ago).

/start rant One thing that annoys me about DH’s current school (as opposed to paradise) is that they often have “bring your own devices” days.  Kids are encouraged to play with their smartphones or to bring ipads or, to a lesser extent, hand-held game systems.  DC1 doesn’t have anything like that and we made the conscious choice not to give hir a phone with such things.  I have to say I’m really annoyed about something like that that makes kids whose parents can’t afford to get them iphones or kids whose parents are crazy hippies stick out in a negative way.  Last year in paradise, each kid had an assigned notepad device (I don’t think there was one for each kid–they didn’t all use them at the same time since there were 3 classes of fifth graders), but our school district isn’t rich enough for that, I guess.  But it is rich enough to do things that could hurt poor kids.  I really appreciate how the Paradise school district made everything equal for everyone.  It was a relatively rich district, but our school had a high population ELA and school lunch eligible and there was a lot of redistribution, which is how it should be, I think.  So my bottom line is, if you’re going to allow kids to play games in class, you have to provide the games. /end rant

Anyhow, if DC1 behaves hirself and doesn’t lose anything, having an extra cell line should cost us an additional $6/mo, and possibly the cost of an external battery charger since if DC1 treats hir cellphone like I did (leaving it at home and letting the battery run out), it won’t be much use.

What age do you think people should get their first cell phone?  If it depends, what does it depend on?

36 Responses to “We got DC1 a cell phone”

  1. oldmdgirl Says:

    I have an ask the grumpies question about opportunity cost that is NOT about the election. Do you have an email that I can send it too? I tried to find an email on this page (admittedly I did not put a lot of effort into that), but was unable to find a contact email.

  2. gwinne Says:

    I got LG a phone for her 12th birthday. It’s technically a “smart” phone, but she has no real data plan so can only use those features in places (like home) with free wifi. It’s tracfone, comes out to $7/mo. Helps for pickups and when she’s out with friends, the way I used to take a quarter to use a payphone at that age…

  3. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Did my morning call to my senators, this one about not allowing Jeff Sessions— it took many more tries than usual to get a mailbox that wasn’t full.

    I guess tomorrow my morning call will be about Flynn. This one is alarming because *he is working for Russia*.

    • Cloud Says:

      You rock! I’ve resolved to call the House Oversight committee and Speaker Ryan weekly. I’ll call my reps when there is something specific to encourage them to do, but they’ve all already issued statements against Sessions and Bannon. I will call my rep to ask him to support the bill from a MA rep about requiring the Pres-Elect to resolve his conflicts of interest.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Do you think that calling multiple times about the same issue is worthwhile? Because if it is, I will totally do that re: the house oversight committee and conflicts of interest.

        If Trump was smart and just wanted to maximize money making, he’d get into arms dealing and foment unrest across the world. That should not be allowed to happen.

        Republicans: DO YOUR JOB.

      • Cloud Says:

        I have no idea what will help, so I’m just going with “if it won’t hurt and it doesn’t cost much to do it, why not try?”

        It looks like I’ll have new conflicts of interest to point out each time I call, too. My last call was before the news about the business meetings in India. And TPM has a report from the Argentinian press that our Pres-Elect used the congratulatory phone call from the Argentinian leader to press him to ease some permitting issues holding up a project of his there: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/cashing-in-bigly-in-argentina

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        That’s a good idea.

        My sister is trying to put together a list of action items to call about… here’s what she has so far:

        1. House Financial Oversight Committee (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/17/opinion/what-trump-can-do-to-eliminate-his-conflicts-of-interest.html?_r=0 though there are a lot of other articles that explain as well).
        202 225 5074 to call the house oversight committee to request a bipartisan review of Trump’s financials and apparent conflicts of interest. If you cannot get through and the mailbox is full, you can call Chaffetz or one of the committee members directly https://oversight.house.gov/subcommittee/full-committee/ . Failing that, you can try faxing (202) 225-3974.

        2. Steve Bannon. Here’s an article explaining why calling could make a difference, even though it’s an appointed position: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-11-14/how-to-keep-steve-bannon-out-of-the-white-house . Call senators and congresspeople.

        3. Jeff Sessions. https://www.bustle.com/articles/195907-how-to-call-your-senator-to-protest-jeff-sessions-after-donald-trump-picked-him-as-attorney . Needs senate approval. Call your senators.

        4. Break Paul Ryan’s push poll about the affordable care act.
        “If you care about Americans’ access to healthcare, take two minutes to call Paul Ryan to support the Affordable Care Act! You don’t have to talk to a human!

        “Paul Ryan is conducting a phone poll on the ACA (Obamacare), hoping to hear overwhelming popular opposition to it. If you would like to express your support for the Affordable Care Act, call 202-225-0600. Wait through what sounds like silence, until a prerecorded voice speaks. Press 2 to weigh in on the issue. You’ll hear a brief recording about HR-3762, Paul Ryan’s proposal to gut the ACA. Then, you will have a chance to indicate your opinion with the press of a button. Press 1 if you support Obamacare, 2 if you oppose it. ”

        5. Approve Merrick Garland. https://www.whitehouse.gov/scotus . Call your senators.

        6. Michael Flynn. Call your senators. This one is truly terrifying because he works for Putin.

        7. Dismantling Medicare. Call your senators, congresspeople, and Paul Ryan.

      • Katherine Says:

        In college I interned for one of my home state senators. We kept a log of the number of phone calls received by topic, viewpoint, and zipcode. The senator got regular reports with the numbers of calls for and against each issue. So if other offices do it the same way, it is definitely worthwhile to call multiple times about the same issue!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        So they allow double-counting of the same person?

    • Katherine Says:

      Yes, we didn’t track name or phone number or any personally identifying information.

  4. Jay Says:

    Kids should get cellphones when the parents need them to have a cellphone. We planned to give Eve a cellphone when she started sixth grade for essentially the reasons you outlined. In the middle of fifth grade, we opened her adoption and it immediately became clear that she needed to be able to text to have an independent relationship with her bio family (well, they suggested we sign her up for Facebook but that wasn’t happening). So she got a cellphone for Chanukah in fifth grade, just before she turned 11. She has never lost a phone; she’s broken two screens, which is why we bought insurance for her phone. The dumb phone was a lemon. When we went to replace it, it was cheaper to get her an iPhone and redo our data plan than get her a dumb phone. We pay for the plan and the data; she pays for the phone when she wants an upgrade.

    • Leah Says:

      I highly recommend a lifeproof or similar case for smart phones. My toddler has a smartphone (a present, ugh — no phone feature, so she uses it as an ipod touch). We limit access A LOT. Mostly, she can use it on long car trips, plane trips, and for short amounts of time (once or twice a week for 10-15 minutes max) when I would have handed her my phone to play an app. Anyway, she has a knock-off lifeproof my parents got with the phone, and it’s worked wonders for her dropping/throwing/etc. I’ve also got a lifeproof case on mine which has saved me from breakage, a toilet drop, a bathtub drop, etc.

  5. Cloud Says:

    I’m thinking my 9 year old (who is in 4th grade) will get a phone either for Christmas or her next birthday. We’ve started letting her walk home alone on Mondays. My husband signs both kids out of their after care and then takes our 7 year old to her swim lesson. The 9 year old walks home. I am there, working.

    Our 4th graders all have chromebooks to use in class. They aren’t allowed to take them home, but I think in 5th grade they will be. California has a law requiring that all materials needed for school must be provided by the school, or something like that. There has been some controversy because this means that if a school wants to run a field trip to DC (which some do!) then they have to raise all the funds: they cannot have kids pay their own way. That is fine with me, but there are some other parents who object. I am too lazy to go look up the specifics of the law right now, but I’ve always thought it was a good thing. Next, I’d like us to only be able to donate to our district, not our school. But that would cause quite a ruckus from people used to being able to use their PTA to pay for librarians and art/music instruction that the overall district budget cannot cover, so probably won’t happen.

  6. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Did this, even though it’s a disgusting push poll trying to convince you that the ACA is a bad thing (it isn’t). I did leave a message about how disgusting it is that he’s using a push poll.:

    If you care about Americans’ access to healthcare, take two minutes to call Paul Ryan to support the Affordable Care Act! You don’t have to talk to a human!

    Paul Ryan is conducting a phone poll on the ACA (Obamacare), hoping to hear overwhelming popular opposition to it. If you would like to express your support for the Affordable Care Act, call 202-225-0600. Wait through what sounds like silence, until a prerecorded voice speaks. Press 2 to weigh in on the issue. You’ll hear a brief recording about HR-3762, Paul Ryan’s proposal to gut the ACA. Then, you will have a chance to indicate your opinion with the press of a button. Press 1 if you support Obamacare, 2 if you oppose it.

    Copy and paste this, don’t click share! You don’t even have to speak to anyone to make a difference.

  7. Nanani Says:

    I think what you did makes perfect sense.
    It probably does depend on the specific kid (are they mature enough to track their belongings, charge it when needed, etc.) and circumstances like money and whether the school allows/encourages it.

    • Jenny F. Scientist Says:

      I would add – percent time kid is with someone else/on their own/ at some kind of activity, and how big city/small town it is where you are. My oldest kid goes to school two blocks away and my entire ‘city’ is two square miles. Kid is probably not getting a cell phone until he’s in middle school (which is three blocks away from my current office… all the way across town.)

  8. crazy grad mama Says:

    I don’t have strong opinions about when’s the right age for a cellphone, because I suspect that by the time my son is in middle school, technology will have changed enough to render my current opinions somewhat irrelevant. Getting a dumbphone in middle school seems very reasonable, as long as the kid doesn’t have a track record of losing stuff (and isn’t likely to make a bunch of prank calls or something). I got my first one in high school, for the same reasons of complicated extracurricular schedules. I do worry about smartphones for kids – how do we keep kids safe on the internet if they can access anything, anywhere?

    “Bring your own device day” sounds awful and classist and generally rage-making.

  9. chacha1 Says:

    Here’s an idea for “BYO Device” day: an Etch-a-Sketch.

    Right age for a cellphone? Probably 9-10, these days, for the reasons you cited. Doesn’t mean it has to be loaded with games or apps or browsers. There’s nothing wrong with teaching kids the responsible use of devices, and most kids would enjoy the security of knowing they have a way to contact their parents that doesn’t depend on some other adult.

  10. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I love the idea of the etch-a-sketch. We need one of those for JuggerBaby now!

    Cell phones? I don’t know. I think it’ll be a “when we need zir to have one” decision. What ipad cover do you have that has the glass-like cover on top?

  11. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    I’m about to turn 62 and still don’t have a cell phone. My wife got her first cell phone around age 57 (using the prepaid “GoPhone” plan, that costs $2 for days you use it, but $25 expires after 3 months). My son got his first cell phone around age 16, for a school trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where the chaperones were keeping in contact with the kids by a phone tree.

    The right age to get a cell phone is when you need one.

  12. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Today’s Action Item:
    Call your senators ( http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/ ) to oppose Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor

    Flynn is experienced, yes, but he also has questionable ties to Vladimir Putin, supports torture, and has said “fear of Muslims is RATIONAL”: http://wapo.st/2glMXcN

    Ask if your rep/senator opposes the appointment of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security advisor. I oppose this appointment because Flynn has proven himself unstable during his time on the Obama administration, and he stokes Islamophobia with bigoted statements such as “Fearing Islam, which wants 80 percent of humanity enslaved or exterminated, is totally rational and hence cannot possibly be called a phobia”

  13. xykademiqz Says:

    We got Eldest his first cell phone (it was my old Nokia brick I think) when he started middle school, because that’s when he started walking home by himself. We plan to do the same with the other kids. Eldest is now 16 and has a cheap plan with unlimited texting but data only with wifi. He and his peers almost never talk over the phone, it’s all text, facebook, google hangouts, and other group chats.

  14. Rosa Says:

    I feel like in a household with no landline, the age kids should have their own phones is a lot younger. If a family can afford it, phone access is a basic modern amenity that kids should have.

    Mine is 11 and doesn’t have a phone, but he goes to hippie school where phones are not allowed during school hours, so he has a bunch of phoneless friends too. Also we have a landline, so he can call people. Phone numbers he might need are all written down near the phone, too. When his social circle gets text heavy, we’ll get him a phone of his own.

    I would be really leery of a take your own device day at school even if every single kid did have a device to bring, just because it seems like it would set up theft and strife.

  15. TodayWendy Says:

    We just got my daughter a cell phone – 10 years old and in Grade 5. She’s been asking for one for a year now, and my dad was upgrading his iPhone so her 10th birthday seemed like the right time – and also we don’t have a landline. We haven’t actually gotten her a phone plan yet though, she’s got wifi at home and at school so she just uses Google hangouts. I’ll get her a phone plan once she actually needs one, but there aren’t any cheap ones available where we are, so it would be minimum of $15/month which seems like a lot of money for something I don’t feel she’s going to use.

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