Three of my granddaughters, ages 10, 11, and 14, now have an iPhone. Thus far, it’s been an innocent experience that consists of me being Facetimed at odd hours of the day and receiving texts like these:
I am well aware of the pitfalls of putting these devices into the hands of tweens and young teens. In fact, I will be writing a post about how to keep kids safe on social media and how to keep them from having access to far too much information. But for now, I am focusing on why getting these phones was a good idea.
1) You know where your kid is.
Once children are in middle school, it makes sense to give them a bit of independence. But since there are no landlines in most homes, how do you reach a child who walked to a friend’s house? Last summer, I actually had to trek around the block to make sure my granddaughter had arrived safely. She was embarrassed to ask her friend’s mother to text or call me, and she most likely didn’t know my cell number.
2) Kids who are old enough to make plans with friends can do so independently.
Again, the demise of the family landline has made what was once normal for children this age awkward. The only way to “phone a friend” is to hope one of your parents has the cell number for one of her parents.
3) If you are going to be late picking up your child, you can tell her you are on the way.
This one will actually be useful for me. Being someone who hates to be even a minute late, getting tied up in traffic on the way to picking my granddaughter up from dance will no longer give me a stomachache.
4) You can tell a child where to find you.
While I don’t regret having to deal with social media garbage when my kids were young, this could have been extremely useful when I had to pick up my children from after school activities at a huge high school with many doors. So many times, we played a game of missed connections until we finally ended up at the same spot.
5) You can receive awesome news quickly.
One granddaughter texted me this from the car after she met John Lewis:
How cool is that?
6) Your child can reach you right away if anything feels unsafe or wrong.
After many silly texts of dancing cats, the real reason to have a phone happened last night. My 11-year-old granddaughter called from a dance studio to tell me her class had been cancelled. Her mother was working and her father was grocery shopping and didn’t hear her call. So could I pick her up, as she was sitting there by herself with a woman in charge of the front desk and feeling a bit upset? Luckily, I was home and it was only a five-minute drive.
For children whose parents are divorced, and that’s a lot of kids these days, that phone is truly a lifeline when they are feeling uncertain about a situation or need to reach out to the parent who is not there. For what we called “latchkey kids” back in the day, being able to reach a working parent gives a young teen home alone a sense of comfort and connection.
Some 25 years ago when one of my kids started to drive, she went to a party and forgot to bring the “bag phone.” This technological marvel predated cell phones, plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter, and was definitely too heavy to go in a pocket or purse. Getting a flat tire at 1:00 am on a deserted street (yes, she had blown her curfew), she was forced to walk several blocks alone to find a pay phone. Driving at excess speeds to get her before she got into a dangerous situation was not one of my happier parenting memories.
So yes, I’m glad my grandkids have phones. Now, they just to be taught how and when to use them. More about that soon…