Our girls, probably like every other tween out there, are constantly inquiring about the date when they will receive their first cell phone. The discussions range from simple suggestion (You know, if I had a cell phone I could take Daisy for a walk, and if you needed me to come home early you could just call me on my phone.) to bribery (If you got me my own cell phone I would make sure to always answer your calls, and do whatever you asked.).
A few years ago a product called Firefly was introduced. The cell phone is specifically designed for kids, with no numerical keypad so only preprogrammed numbers can be accessed. My girls instantly recognized our "need" for this new phone, and Bethany, in particular, has been reminding us of the many features we must surely appreciate about it. Christopher and I keep touting the party line:
You are not getting a cell phone.
It's really that simple. The girls just don't require a phone. Their social calendar is not independent enough to necessitate one. On top of that, we feel rather strongly about developing independence. What does that have to do with cell phones? More and more adolescents are failing to achieve common sense, and logical problem solving skills. Why? We believe that a significant part of the problem is the false sense of security that comes when mom or dad answer all your questions - immediately. Changes in plans, unexpected possibilities, and circumstantial unforeseens are handled by calling home to receive instantaneous feedback on the right or wrong option. The problem is most clearly seen when you remove the potential for cell phone use (i.e. dead battery/no reception). We use these hypothetical situations to help our girls understand why we don't want them overly dependent on cell phones.
Yesterday, the conversation again turned to cell phones, and when the girls' archaic parents would get the knack and buy them one.
Bethany was utterly unimpressed with this answer and left the room, but Hannah hung on and played the game.
But it would really help you if I had a phone. Then you could call me whenever you needed anything.
Hannah, we have already gone over this however, we can do it again if you wish. When you are accustomed to using a cell phone for aid whenever you are in a questionable situation what happens when you no longer have the cell phone? Daddy and I want to be sure that you are safe without a cell phone before we allow you to have one. And until then, we aren't going to allow you into potentially unsafe situations with the false sense of security derived from a cell.
*blank stare from Hannah*
Okay, say you are driving along a road when suddenly your car breaks down. You are in an unfamiliar town, and your cell phone has no reception. What do you do?
Well, if you were accustomed to always having a cell phone then you would probably run to the nearest phone booth, and call a tow truck. But, if you knew how to solve the problem without using a cell phone then you would just siphon gas with your mouth and drive home.
Maybe we should buy them phones.