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.
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.
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.
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!
Do your kids have cell phones?
What age did they get them?
Any rules/tips/tricks you would like to share?
Disclosure: T-Mobile provided the party and giveaways as well as compensated me for this post.
All thoughts, words and photos are mine.