We are fast approaching the teen years, and our triplets plus one are without cell phones. I know. Can you even believe it? What kind of parents are we? According to these four, they are the only ones left on the face of the earth without one.
Here’s our thinking:
1. I am a working adult, and you are a child.
When did our parents allow us to have the exact same privileges and material items that they had when we were growing up? I don’t know too many parents back in the day who would’ve just forked out monthly payments for anything like we do today. I want to show my kids that I have certain things in my life because I have worked to afford them.
2. Delayed gratification: All good things come to those who wait.
I want my kids to be able to learn to wait for something. Delayed gratification is a part of life. I know they want phones. I also know that just because they are turning 13 and because it’s "what everyone has and is doing," isn’t a good enough reason to get them. I also know it’s a perfect time to teach them a life lesson. You think that they’ll remember that they weren’t just handed a cell phone when they were young?
3. Do kids really need another distraction at school?
I was in for a presentation in one of my son’s sixth-grade classes, and the teacher was having to tell students that they could use their phones to research the project but she would be walking around to make sure no one was texting. Do teachers today really need one more distraction to worry about? Kids are constantly checking these devices. My boys tell me it isn’t fun riding the bus because everyone is glued to their phones and not even talking.
4. Allows for immature relationships to begin.
Where we live, “dating” is rampant at this age, too. It is very easy to fall into a relationship behind texts and social posts. It is very easy for immature kids to type things to someone that they may not necessarily feel comfortable saying to their face. I definitely remember having an eye for boys at this age, so I get that. But, I certainly wasn’t telling anyone about it besides my very best friend, who was telling me her deepest secrets at the same time. We are losing all innocence giving kids too much too soon.
5. Learning independence.
Our kids don’t need phones, because I work from home and am usually available for their needs. There are landlines at school, and plenty of people around them with cellphones if there is an emergency. Musical son has to go into the school office once in a great while to let us know that his lesson got done early or was cancelled so we can come get him. Can you imagine actually using the school’s landline? It is possible and is free. Otherwise, he has to sit outside and just wait ... old-school style, reading a book or doing homework.
Why are we as parents so concerned with being able to be in constant communication with our kids? Parents are Face-timing their kids while they are away on school trips these days! I think it’s very unhealthy. The boys went away to church camp recently for three days, and believe me, it was very strange to not be able to get ahold of them. I didn’t like it. But, it’s OK, and I have to think healthy for all of us to learn to do so.
6. Just because we can afford something, doesn’t mean we need to have it.
Yes, we can absolutely afford phones and family data plans. But I think this is another powerful message to our kids. Just because we can afford something, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to spend our money on. Our kids have become very aware of people (from friends to the working poor who receive free meals at St. Vincent de Paul where we serve) who don’t have money yet have iPhones. They would not be aware of this lesson with their own phone in hand.
If you aren’t aware, there is a huge entitlement problem going on with this generation of kids we are raising. They want what they want, and they want it now. And unfortunately, a lot of them get what they are seeking without ever having to work for it at all. We as parents need to make sure we are creating a desired work ethic in our kids. How will they ever know what it feels like to work toward something if everything is just handed to them?
8. Need a real reason.
I know people have absolute reasons for their young kids to have phones. To each her own, and only you know your family dynamic. Our family just doesn’t have a good enough reason right now. I think once they are teenagers and start driving a car, it might warrant needing a cell phone. And if you haven’t guessed, that car they’ll be driving won’t be paid for by us, either.