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Do Preteens Need a Cell Phone?

A while back, I wrote an article in which I talked about NOT getting our lovely daughter (heretofore referred to as “The Girl”) a cell phone and how frustrating it was that her school was emphasizing cell phone use in class (her school is a “Bring Your Own Device,” or BYOD, school). This fall, my husband and I were at odds about whether or not to cave and get her a phone. We tried going the inexpensive tablet route, but in the end, the apps being used in the classroom were not compatible with The Girl’s tablet. I was still on team NO CELL PHONE. Unfortunately, I was a team of one. The Husband went out and bought The Girl a phone back in October and I am still a little bitter about my loss in that battle

Now, several months later, we have some observations. The Girl is using her phone a lot for Google Classrooms. Apparently her teachers are using this a lot. This is something that she can do on a computer, of course, but she does this in the classroom as well as for homework on her phone.

The main thing we have seen with the phone is that she texts us about her bus. A lot. And do you know what that does to us? Increases our level of anxiety. A lot. I have to be at work before my kids are even up, so my husband is in charge in the morning. The Girl texts both my husband and I whenever there is an issue. So there I am, in my classroom, and I get a text from The Girl that reads, “The bus is late.” Immediately, I start panicking. I start trying to think about how I can try to get from my school to her bus stop, and then shuttle her to school. Oh the stress!! This never happened when I was oblivious unaware of her sitting at the bus stop waiting forever without a cell phone… and she was fine. The bus shows up. I thought it was just me having these little panic attacks until The Husband came home one day and said the exact thing.

Do preteens need a cell phone Raleigh Moms Blog

We have enjoyed having additional communication with The Girl, but we have increased anxiety with it. I wanted to see what The Girl had to say about being a cell phone owner, so I interviewed her.

Me: Why did you want a cell phone?

The Girl: I don’t know. I just wanted one I guess. So I could stay connected with people, and my tablet wasn’t working for BYOD. What, am I not be a good interviewee? Am I not giving you the answers you want? (Apparently I had looked at her weird at this point).

Me: Now that you have a cell phone, how have you been using it?

The Girl: To play games, BYOD, texting you guys, looking up how to do things on Minecraft…

Me: Do you think you NEEDED to have a cell phone?

The Girl: Not really – an iPad mini would have been fine, but I couldn’t have texted you.

Me: But we had set you up with Skype, so…

The Girl: So… what?

Me: So… do you really need texting?

The Girl: Yes, but you and Dad don’t have apple products so that’s why I need it for texting because my friends don’t have Skype and I want to text them.

Me: How often do you text your friends?

The Girl: I used to text them a lot but now I don’t text them that often but still I text them.

Me: So… did you really need a cell phone? 

The Girl: YES STOP BUGGING ME! Your questions are really annoying.

Me: See, the problem is, I am not convinced you needed a cell phone.

(What follows is pure, classic teen reasoning at its finest).

The Girl: Oh really, well. Um I needed the cellular data.

Me: Why. 

The Girl: Because. Well, So I could look up the weather when I am offline. I don’t know! (unlocks her phone) I am looking up reasons why I need cellular data…. (does not actually open a search engine, BTW, but we both start giggling).

Maybe when BYOD network isn’t working, then I can use cellular data to use the apps I have to have?

Me: If the network isn’t working, do the teachers really still make you use the apps?

The Girl: Well, no the teachers have computers we can use. But other people’s phones still work, but mine doesn’t work with the WiFi.

Me: Why isn’t yours working with the WiFi?

The Girl: It just isn’t connecting with the WiFi at school. 

Me: So, basically, you don’t need a phone.

The Girl: YES I DO!!! You are so annoying.

Me: Alright, thank you for this super informative interview.

 

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2 Responses to Do Preteens Need a Cell Phone?

  1. narelle english January 17, 2017 at 4:02 pm #

    Great read Allisen. I am facing the losing phone battle right now and that confirms my resolve to hold off a while. Narelle in Australia.

    • Allisen F.
      Allisen F. February 14, 2017 at 11:11 pm #

      Thanks, Narelle. Good luck with your battle! All the best to you.

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