Farming Families – Cell Phones

I have a dear mom-friend.  When I knew no one after I moved to the Jamestown area, she was one of the first ones to welcome me as I tentatively joined a women’s Bible study.  We were pregnant at the same time, due the same day.  I refused to wear maternity pants until she did…and then breathed a sigh of relief.  Our daughters were born on the same day, in the same room.  But not at the same time, because well, friendship only goes SO far!

She’s a wonderful barometer for me.  We have the same sense of humor, passions and concerns.  I asked her what I should blog about in these last days and she gave me quite the list!  One of those items on her list was cell phones.  Her oldest daughter wants a cell phone and she wants to know my opinion and encourages me to share it with all of you.

First, I need to take a deep breath.  {in….and out}  OK, now let’s talk about cell phones and kids.  If I had children who were asking to have a cell phone, here is what I would tell them:

1.  Why do you need a cell phone?  “Because so-and-so has one” is not a reason.  I will need five reasons why you need a cell phone.  Written in essay form with research to support them.  If your child cannot write a persuasive essay on why he/she needs a cell phone, they don’t need a cell phone.  They need a notebook, a dictionary, a thesaurus and a pencil.  And don’t think I wouldn’t give it to them.

2.  How are YOU going to pay for this phone?  And the plan?  And the extra charges?  Don’t think for even one minute that I am paying for any of it.  The law says I have to feed you, so that’s my obligation.  My child would have to have the money up-front before anything was purchased.  And I would make them have a reserve for extra charges.

3.  If it breaks, if you lose it, if you drop it in the toilet…I will not replace it.  Ever.  Not even for your golden birthday.

4.  The phone will be deposited with me at a specific time each evening and you may retrieve it at a specific time each morning.  You will not take it to your room.  I will be checking your phone every night.  And if your friends text me at 2:30 in the morning, I will text back.

5.  You will not be getting a smart phone.  No child needs to have the internet in their pocket.  Learn to use, take care of, and be responsible for a dumb phone first, then you can work your way up.  You will start with a pre-paid plan, because when you run out of money the phone doesn’t work.  If you don’t work, neither does your phone.

6.  No phones at the table during meal times.  No phones while you are doing chores.  No phones while you are working outside.  (Boy, you’re kinda running out of places and times you can use this thing, huh?)

7.  The phone is a privilege, not a right.  Just like your nice clothes, access to car keys, activities, and other fun things are a privilege.  And they can be suspended at any time.

8.  You will always answer your parents’ calls and texts.  ALWAYS.  Because if you don’t answer, I will assume that something is wrong with your phone and it will need to be repaired.  At a child cell phone repair shop.  In outer Mongolia.

9.  Do not say or send anything you would not say or send to your grandmother.  That includes pictures of you in the mirror and pictures of you with your tongue hanging out.  If you use filthy language, I will have to wash it out with soap.

10.  A cell phone is a tool, not a toy.  You can use its power for good or for evil.  Choose wisely.

11.  A cell phone is neither the beginning nor the end of the universe.  You can live with one, and you can live without one.  Beware of it becoming an idol.  Treasure in-person interactions far above that piece of plastic.

I have no concrete rules about ages or whatever other pre-requisites on WHEN a kid should get a cell phone.  As with anything, they will need to learn.  They will mess up and you may or may not catch them.  But just like we don’t toss a kid the keys and say “Here you are, go drive!” we shouldn’t do that with technology either.  Teach them, guide them, forgive them.

Day 26 Homework:  What other privileges could we use this same list as a guide for ownership?

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