Why I Let My Kids Have a Cell Phone

My girls have a cell phone.  They are 10 and 9.  Are we crazy parents?  I’ll let you decide.

First of all, I shouldn’t say that THEY have a cell phone, it’s really OUR cell phone that we let them use.  The girls have been begging for one for months, and No, we didn’t give in to their begging, it was a family decision. 

Rob’ got me an iPhone for Valentines Day when my old Blackjack died.  Fortunately for us, the Blackjack was within a few weeks of it’s warranty, so we were able to get a brand new one free.  It all worked out, so we decided to keep a third line for the girls.


Let me tell you:

Not because I don’t trust my kids, but because I don’t trust my kids’ friends’ parents.  Most of them are awesome, and I would trust them with anything.  BUT, there have been a few times when the girls have been with a friend, and then went off radar for 4 hours or more at a time.  When I was growing up, this was no big deal.  We would be gone from sun up to sun down, and as long as my parents had a general sense of where we were, it was all good. 

Last summer there were two incidents in particular that freaked me and Rob out.  I had no way of contacting my girls, and they had no way of contacting me.  I had no idea where they were.

That’s not going to happen again. 

In light of the horrific stories on the news of terrible and tragic things happening to little kids, my girls will never be off my radar again.  I don’t’ care if other parents think my girls are snobby (I’ve gotten a phone call from an angry mom calling my girls snobby, really.)  They are going to carry a cell phone that has unlimited texting and calls.  Are they allowed to text their friends?  Only if I’m right there with them.  Can they talk to their friends on the cell phone?  Only if they ask, just like our regular phone.

Letting my kids take a cell phone on a bike ride gives me peace of mind. 

Am I crazy?  Over-protective?  Would you let your 9 year old have a cell phone?  Let me know what you think!

24 thoughts on “Why I Let My Kids Have a Cell Phone

  1. Renee says:

    You got a phone call about it??? I can’t believe so many parents feel the need to monitor other parents and their decisions. You and Rob make no decisions lightly, I’m sure. If I had my kids missing for periods of time like that I would definitely be getting them SOMEthing. Maybe one of those phones that just have the parents’ phone number and emergency buttons but since you had an extra phone I would have used it, too.

  2. Whitney says:

    I think it’s a good idea. You aren’t letting them use the phone for recreational purposes and if they want to you’ve set the standards. So not only do they get the comfort of having mom and dad a phone call away, but they understand boundaries and are learning discipline. It’s tragic that there are too many possible scenarios out there and that we do have to do this, but it is what it is. Peace of mind and knowing someone is always there is a HUGE comfort.

  3. If you’re crazy, I’m crazy. My kids don’t have phones yet (they’re 8,6 and 3.) But I don’t like them going off radar either. I’m pretty strict and overprotective about other things. I try not to be, but still… the MIND… the MIND goes crazy with all the bad possibilities, especially these days, especially when you can’t get ahold of your kiddos. If they were out and about a lot, were involved in sports or something, I’d probably want a phone to send with them when they’re out. As it is right now, we live off in the country, so if they go over to a friends house, it’s because we all went together. So as of yet, I’m not in that boat…. yet….

  4. Daniel Gooding says:

    I think you’ve made a good choice. You’ve outlined the rules with them about the use of the phone.

  5. Ed Buford says:

    I’m with you! I’ve been thinking about how much longer it will be before I do this with my 8 year old boys.

  6. I’ve thought about getting one for Anya – but wondered if I can get one that only calls a few numbers (me, Marty and maybe my Mom)…thanks for showing me that my want of a cell phone for my little one isn’t a sign of my overprotective nature, but one of PROTECTING her and safety!

  7. Dalene Stuteville says:

    I AM in that boat with you. When my daughter was 9, her friend invited her to go to dance class with her at the Boys and Girls Club and then spend the night. It started at 7:30 and was over at 8:30. I walked them to the front door and as an after thought asked when her mom would pick them up. The little girl threw a quick, “Oh, my mom said we could walk home…” over her shoulder as they bounded up the steps. I knew where they lived and it wasn’t a casual stroll. It was nearly half a mile of densely populated city blocks. Not to mention the fact that two prepubescent girls leaving the Boys and Girls Club alone after dark made my skin crawl. I said I’d be back at 8:30 and drive them home.
    The cell phone went with her after that…and throughout her many friendships I often got calls from football games, swim meets you name it that my daughter had been “ditched” either by accident or as a “prank”. Prank? Not so funny when I’m 20 miles away wondering if a psycho kidnapper can drive faster than a psycho mom…
    I hear you and I high five your parenting instincts which unfortunately makes people like us both a Hero and a Villain. (A hero to our kids who get to brag about the social status of this little wireless leash and a villain to parents who think it’s too much too soon.) Do I care? Nope. I’m a huge fan of happy endings…

  8. Phyllis Seyler says:

    It’s funny when you read what others have to say about the subject of raising children. I love Dalene’s statement about what others think “Hero vs. Villian”…Happy Endings!
    As parents, we were not called to worry about what others think, we were called to raise and care for our children, keep them safe from harm and teach and show them how to become responsibile adults. And as a Christ-follower, teach them to live their lives under the authority of God…HAPPY ENDING!
    I love how you and Rob live that out by saying, this is what we are doing…it may be up for comments or discussion, but it is not going to detour us from God’s purpose as parents to our girls!
    Thank you for being willing to live out loud for God!

  9. Mo says:

    I’m all for phones/texting when the kiddies get grown. But i’m all about the rule for asking permission and even when they’re older I take their phone at night [no need to text at night] and i have all and every right to take their phone from them at any moment and read everything. when i babysit my cousins that same rules apply. i’m nosey and i like it that way. my mom was nosey and i turned out okay!

  10. Kathleen says:

    If we had the money my 9 year old daughter would have one. We had a shooting three blocks away just this week, a child predator lives two blocks away and a meth house blew up last summer just a few blocks east of us. I am afraid to let her ride her bike two blocks to her grandma’s house. These days it is worth the peace of mind to let children have cell phones. I think it is a great idea – no matter where you live.

  11. Christine Henry says:

    Well, the other day we had thought about it. Today, after reading your tweet, I went and finally added the extra line and ordered a phone. No big deal. We felt like it was about time. I am probably a little over protective and maybe this will help me let my almost 10 year old walk around the block. Call me crazy but that is just me. Thanks for your post Michelle.

  12. sean says:

    i let my kids have there own cell phones there 11,10,12

  13. Rindy Walton says:

    My guys have had cell phones for 4-5 yrs, when I got rid of my land line. They’re 19, 16, and 13 now. It’s been great–few minor issues (make sure you block downloads–they can happen even if the kids aren’t intentional about it) and I randomly checked their contacts, texts, calls (yes, they can erase, but u can do it without them knowing, or infrequently (like checking history on a computer!).
    They learned quickly that they liked the phones and didn’t want to take any chance of me taking them away–it teaches kids discipline/self-control and responsibility (yes, we’ve had a couple go thru the washer/dryer, etc but it’s amazing how good they’ve been with them).
    The other great thing…I text them randomly to let them know I’m thinking of them. It’s a great connection as they get older!!
    I agree with your choice–doing it responsibly without sheltering. Way to go!!

  14. Tim Stevens says:

    I let my 10-year old…er, I mean 10th grader have a cell phone. She just got it last year. I may let my 8th grader have one next year when she enters high school. Not sure yet.
    Primary reason they haven’t needed one before that…every other human being on the planet has one. I’ll let other parents pay for the bill for the hardly-ever-few-times that they need to make a call.
    Other than that, I always know where my little ones (pre-9th grade) are. They are never with a kid whose parents we don’t know and trust. No exceptions.
    For my 10th grader, I use AT&T “smart limits” program. Costs an extra $4.95 but lets me limit hours, blocked and unblocked phone numbers, quantity of text messages, downloads and more. It’s a good program.

  15. Frightning times that we live in. Wish we didn’t even have to worry about knowing where our kids were every second they are out of our site.

  16. growing up, my mom ran a business out of our home. she had a 1-800 number that rang home. this was our “cell phone” back then. we never had an excuse to not call home if plans changed. while my 10-year-old does not have a cell phone, i will give mine to her on occasions where i’m dropping her off somewhere without an exact pick-up time. i tell her, “i’ll be here at xx:xxpm, but if it lets out early just hold 2 until it starts ringing.” i’m going to be home anyways, so she can always get a hold of me.

  17. Dan Clark says:

    I am with you. My daughter(14 now) has had one for several years. I want to be able to call and find her or her to call me. It is a comfort thing for me and I agree about not being able to trust some of the other parents. There are some scary evil things out there. I know only God can protect her, but I want to be a prudent parent. She loves it because she is a girl and can talk to all her friends on it. Also, she knows it is MY phone that she gets to use 🙂

  18. Jennifer Prawat says:

    Good for you and Rob for making this decision based on safety! If my boys EVER went off my radar, I would do the same thing. I have some time, (not much) my boys are only 7, 6 and 4. 🙂

  19. Charity says:

    You laid out some good arguments there… in general I think it’s pretty silly for kids to have cell phones but honestly, our world is changing. It’s not where I grew up and as our kids are approaching the ages where they will have more independence and freedom I can see us following suit. I will feel a little silly admitting it to my mom…

  20. Michelle Mospens says:

    I think YOU are great. Keep on doing what you are doing.

  21. Ryan says:

    It would be great to hear more on this subject, practical advice that is age relevant. How do you decide who to trust? Do you have to take additional precautions because you are more well known or because you are strongly involved in Christian work, is your risk level higher than mine? Giving a kid a cell phone for emergency use seams smart. But should I be free range? http://freerangekids.wordpress.com Should I run background checks on each neighbor and classmate? Should I homeschool and have an attached garage?
    With many butterflies in my tummy I just let my 4-year-old daughter go off with the neighbor girl on our second day in the new city to see all her friends on the block without us following. For hours a group of seven girls from 4 to 9 had fun without our intervention we saw them maybe once every half hour. But now I wonder.

  22. Ryan, in reading the article about Free Range Parenting, I agree to a point.
    Yes, I commpletely agree that my kids should be allowed to learn from THEIR mistakes. I think they remember those lessons so much more than me scolding them.
    Unfortunately, WE made the mistake of allowing our child to go with the WRONG parent. It ended up being a horrible catastrophe, and left Maddie scared and confused. She did not come out of the basement for two whole days, had headaches, etc. The woman didn’t hurt her or anything, but took her WAY out of her comfort zone. So, yes, I let my kids learn from their mistakes every day, but I also keep them safe from idiot parents who make bad choices that affect the well being of my child.
    Make sense?
    I am a much more cautious parent now than I ever have been. It’s interesting, because I think I was way more trusting early on in my parenting life. I’ve seen way to may wacko parents to let my kids go with just anyone. It won’t happen again, trust me!

  23. Stacy Ferin says:

    WOW!!! i’m 19 and I still don’t have a cellphone. I hate rich parents who think that they aren’t damaging their kids by getting them a phone when they are 9!!! My parents have been so strict on me and you know what? I am independent, i have a high paying job, and I will buy a cellphone by myself without having my parents pay for it because they are in enough financial debt as it is. I have never complained to them, I have never begged or threw a tantrum for anything. And I bet, when your kids get older they will never learn how to survive by themselves and you will have to take care of them the rest of your life.

  24. buy penegra says:

    The girls have been begging for one for months, and No, we didn’t give in to their begging, it was a family decision.

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