T-Mobile Denver

Cell Phone Safety with T-Mobile in Denver

My son is getting to “that age.” I have been dreading it – but we have been having “the talk.”

Should he get a cell phone?

Some of his friends have one, but I pretty much had it my head:
NOT UNTIL MIDDLE SCHOOL.

We live in an urban neighborhood close to downtown Denver, and even middle school seems young – but at that point he will be at school all day, further away from us than ever before, doing things with friends solo… and not to sound like a helicopter mom, but a cell phone sounds pretty good in that mix.

I feel lucky that T-Mobile approached me recently to talk about exactly these issues. They understood that I am an iPhone girl, and explained they really care about cell phone safety for children, plus ways to make summer more stress-free for adults.

That works for me.

We had an event here in Denver –  aptly named “T-Mobile Summer” – where friends joined my family at a local store for some food and info. And games. Everyone loves games.

The best game shown above. Where we made guests dress in lots and lots of funny summer gear while learning how to program their ICE number.

Do you have *your* ICE number programmed? This is your “In Case of Emergency” phone number, the one that paramedics, fire and police personnel will search for on your cell phone, well, in case of an emergency. You can see two of our blogger kids playing the game too – everyone was required to memorize the ICE number – and children were no exception.

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Before the event, T-Mobile loaned both me and Declan cell phones to try out their other family-centric services. An important one that we both loved was FamilyWhere.

This is an application on both devices that acts almost like a Foursquare check-in, except the check-ins only go to people previously setup within the device. For example, we had it so that when Declan checked in, a notice went to my T-Mobile test phone (the very pretty HTC One), my iPhone and Bryan’s iPhone. For Declan to check-in at any time with us is free, or you can add special alerts to your service for an additional charge.

We tried these out too, and frankly it was pretty amazing. Like, I knew Declan was going to a friend’s house so I added their house as a “landmark.” Declan was going there at 2pm. So I told FamilyWhere to alert me if Declan was not at “friend’s house” at (you guessed it) 2pm. Bryan was running late dropping him off, and sure enough, I got a text message.

I can also ask FamilyWhere to locate Declan’s phone for me – at any moment.

Imagine how this technology is going to change being a teen for this generation?

I actually kind of feel sorry for these kids.

Where where you YOUNG MAN?

Oh, wait. I KNOW BECAUSE I LOOKED.

I promise I won’t read your diary, Declan – but I *will* geolocate you.

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This technology also brought up interesting questions about boundaries, fast.

Since we were using loaner phones, I didn’t want to get into downloading anything. In a brief discussion, I gave a unilateral “DO NOT DOWNLOAD MUSIC” – using my best authoritative German voice that I inherited from my grandmother.

Later, I came across Declan using the Voice app to record music from the radio.

Apparently my German was not so good.

So we had a long talk about the “spirit” of the law, versus the “letter” of the law.

An eye-opener for when we do get Declan a cell phone… this sort of technology is an evolving conversation.

And I do think it will be soon – maybe a year ahead of that schedule in my head? He goes into 5th grade this year. He is asking for freedom. In fact, with the T-Mobile loaner phone in his pocket, we allowed him to walk somewhere in the neighborhood alone for the first time in his life.

The look on his face – that was pretty wonderful.

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As were the looks on the faces of our guests at the T-Mobile party, when we got around to the giveaways! I was thrilled by T-Mobile’s generosity. My friends won various summer gift packs loaded with gift cards, and then also three lucky winners went home with an HTC One S, a T-Mobile Springboard Tablet and a Samsung Galaxy Blaze.

Many thanks to T-Mobile for a fun event, and to everyone who came out to join us! Such a great way to start the summer off right!

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Do your kids have cell phones?

What age did they get them?

Any rules/tips/tricks you would like to share?

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Disclosure:  T-Mobile provided the party and giveaways as well as compensated me for this post.
All thoughts, words and photos are mine.

This article has 15 comments

  1. Bryan

    As the other parent of our child, I too have been thinking about this whole phone thing a lot.

    With all the possibilities of technology out there it’s somewhat comforting that somebody is really considering how our uber connectivity fits into a family life, not just an individual.

  2. Megan

    Great post! There is so much to think about when kids get into all this. Good that you guys are talking.

  3. zipper

    Love the idea of a game for learning your ICE. I actually need to add mine, come to think of it. argh!

  4. Anonymous

    I think he is a little young for a cell phone personally – but at least you are talking to him about it.

  5. Aimee Giese

    So glad you guys could make it – thanks for making it such a fun event!

  6. Lucretia

    T-Mobile got me thinking about this question in 2008, when my daughter was only 5! They’ve been amazing at understanding that we parents of these rapidly-maturing digital-natives aren’t going to necessarily dive into this child-with-cellphone pool easily.

    I loved coming to your event and seeing the current state of T-Mobile’s family friendly tech! (And, No, just because I was lucky enough to win something… But that made me overwhelmingly gushy too!)

    Payphones really aren’t out there anymore, so I can’t follow in my parents’ footsteps and give my kidlet a quarter to call home if she needs to. Nor do I want her asking to borrow a stranger’s phone. But just like I wouldn’t just hand her the keys to my car and say “see you tomorrow!” I’m not the sort who is going to just hand her a cell and hope she doesn’t get in trouble!

    It was a great (and reassuring) event. Our whole family thanks you & T-Mobile for including us!

  7. Dari

    I had a fabulous time, thanks so much for including me!

    My stepsons got phones when they were 13 and I think I may stick to that with the next 3 too. I don’t think they need a phone until they are old enough to be alone, but my daughter will be in 5th grade next year too and she’s getting pretty darn close to old enough.

    I LOVED the features T-Mobile showed us – the text messaging “allowance”, the geolocation, the checking in…all fabulous (from a parent’s point of view).

    I cringe to think if they had this when I was a teenager! 🙂

  8. Dari

    I had a fabulous time, thanks so much for including me!

    My stepsons got phones when they were 13 and I think I may stick to that with the next 3 too. I don’t think they need a phone until they are old enough to be alone, but my daughter will be in 5th grade next year too and she’s getting pretty darn close to old enough.

    I LOVED the features T-Mobile showed us – the text messaging “allowance”, the geolocation, the checking in…all fabulous (from a parent’s point of view).

    I cringe to think if they had this when I was a teenager! 🙂

  9. Anonymous

    great post! Love how you are talking about all sort of things with him! – m

  10. MPPs Mom

    What a great event, and timely topic. Our 11yo is asking for a phone as well….and we just aren’t ready yet. I’m a big fan of the geolocate though….I agree with Bryan about use for family life vs. just individuals.

  11. Oza Klanjsek

    Great post!

    Thanks so much for including me, I had a great time. It made me think about the cell phone for our children, 9 and 8 however we still want to believe that they are too young for it. T-Mobile has some good safety features, and is obviously thinking about the issues. I specifically like the geolocation feature.

  12. Jen Goode

    This was such a fantastic event – I wasn’t sure what to expect and I left having learned a great deal. I’m really excited about all the family features – it’s exciting to see a company address real concerns with real solutions.

  13. amykblum

    Thanks for having me at the party Aimee! I was so excited to win the Samsung Galaxy Blaze. I ended up giving it to my 12 year old as we are all on iPhones, and he loves it. I like that they have a pay as you go plan and I learned a lot that night about teaching him to be responsible and care for his phone. We set rules about keeping it charged and if he ever claims to have run out of battery so he couldn’t answer calls or texts he loses phone privileges for a couple of days which also means he can’t go anywhere without me.

  14. Susan

    Thank you so much for including me Aimee! I learned a lot and really like T-Mobile’s family plans where you can dial up or down how much talk time, texts, downloads, spend, etc that your child uses. I also like that you can cut off talk time in the evening hours so you don’t have a kid chatting away at 11pm at night.

    This is all going to be a reality for me sooner than later and it was nice to get some great information while seeing some great friends.

  15. Jennifer

    I got my daughter a cell phone when she was in 6th grade because she was walking a mile to school and it made me feel better knowing she had it. She really did not start heavy use of cell phone (texting, FB, Youtube) until she started high school last year. I think we are lucky though. I have seen plenty middle school age kids texting faster than lightening!

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