You asked parents to comment on what age is appropriate to get their children a cell phone (Mr. Right, 1/18/08). Our daughter is also 10. She's had one since she was 8. We bought the phone for $29.95 and are on a pay-as-you-go plan that costs us $20 every three months. Why the trepidation? It's a no-brainer.
Caller on Line 1
We have two children, 15 and 20. We gave the 20-year-old her first phone when she was a freshman in high school, but the only reason we did it was because the high school was four miles away from home. Our 15-year-old is currently a freshman and doesn't have a phone. When he was in middle school and went to track meets, we gave him one of our phones to use IN CASE OF EMERGENCY ONLY! We've talked about getting him one but haven't done it yet. And I don't care if the whole school has a cell phone, he'll get one when he's ready.
Caller on Line 2
We just got our 10-year-old son a cell phone because he now walks to school a few days a week, and this way he can call us when he gets there. But he uses a free refurbished phone that we got from our cell-phone company. And it adds $10 a month to our bill. It can also be programmed with a password so that he can only call the numbers we've agreed on. Since it was free, we're not out a ton of money. And we wouldn't have gotten him one for any reason other than safety and peace of mind.
Caller on Line 3
We're the parents of a 21-year-old female, and we finally succumbed when she started driving. For what it's worth, text-messaging can be very expensive. We found this out when the first bill arrived: over $300 for about 1,000 messages. We later found out that for $14.95 a month you can have unlimited texting - a hard-learned lesson. We would never have given our daughter a cell phone until she needed one to call her dad to come help her change a flat tire.
Caller on Line 4
Give a 10-year-old a cell phone? No way. No need. Parents get a false sense of security when their child has a cell phone. Instead, they should be setting rules and parameters for where their kids will be and with whom. They should also be setting consequences for when those rules are broken. An alternative to a phone is a calling card. Where do 10-year-olds go without their parents? A friend's house, school, school events. Those places all still have phones. And if you're dropping your 10-year-old off at the mall or a movie theater without an adult there? Stop it. They're too young. No, parents can't reach their children with a calling card. But if the rules are set, you're giving them a valuable opportunity to learn how to be out in the world by themselves. My kids are 19, 22 and 25. Am I glad I didn't have the option of giving them cell phones? You bet.
Caller on Line 5
I thought I'd pass along some information that parents should be aware of, the point being that cell phones aren't safe for kids of any age. While most people in this country assume that cell phones are safe, in Europe it's a different matter. Studies, government bodies and consumer groups all point to the possibility that our brains, especially our kids' brains, are being deeply zapped by microwave radiation, which causes numerous health problems, including brain tumors, memory loss and insomnia.
Caller on Line 6
We bought our oldest son his first cell phone at age 13 or 14. Within a few months he lost it. He is now 16 and on his second phone.
Caller on Line 7
For all your telephone hang-ups, write to: MR. RIGHT, ISTHMUS, and 101 KING ST., MADISON, WI 53703. OR CALL 251-1206, EXT. 152. OR EMAIL MRRIGHT@ISTHMUS.COM.