Boys and Communication: Phones

It’s late so I’ll keep this one short, but it’s an important topic and one that applies to girls just as much as it does to boys. Cell phones.

This is something I didn’t have to worry about with my three oldest sons. They each bought their own cell phones, with their own earnings, around the time they each graduated from high school. I think all three had phones before either my husband or I had one. I didn’t know enough to be worried, and I was just grateful that I had an easy way to keep in contact with them.

Times changed, though, as the my three younger sons came into their teens. Our fourth had his first phone when he started college, so his situation was similar to his older brothers’. With the fifth, though, I decided to buy him a phone as soon as he entered high school.

We had just moved to a new city a few months before he started his freshman year and I think that entered into my decision. He would be attending a school none of his brothers had attended, and he would be the first of my sons to attend a public school in 9th grade–the three oldest graduated from an Islamic high school and I homeschooled the fourth until his senior year in a public school. So I bought him a simple, pay-as-you-go phone as part of his back to school supplies.

When our youngest followed his older brother into the public high school two years later, I bought him a phone also. There were times when the boys weren’t together after school and it was convenient to be able to keep in contact. But my youngest son’s phone ran out of minutes months ago and I’ve never gotten around to buying him more. One phone between the two boys seems to be enough for now.

I do have a few guidelines for phone use. First, my younger boys do not have camera phones. I’ve heard the stories and I don’t think my boys would get involved in anything but it’s better to be safe. Also, they have limited minutes for calling and/or texting. I buy 120 minutes and those need to last for three months. At 40 minutes a month, that doesn’t allow too much time for silliness. (And I have refused to replenish a phone that ran out of minutes early.)

I hear stories about parents giving phones to children in elementary school. I can understand the temptation, but I don’t agree. When our children are that young, we should simply stay in close physical contact with them. (Actually, my sisters and I used to walk home from school when we were that age, but those were different times.) I understand that parents have demands from their jobs and so on, but the children should always, always come first.

I do think high school is a good age for a cell phone, as long as there are some basic rules such as no pictures and limited minutes. In my sons’ school the phones must be turned off during school hours, or they will be confiscated. So the possession of a cell phone doesn’t interrupt the learning experience. It has helped, though, when one of my sons wanted to stay after school for an event.

I survived life without a cell phone until I was well into my forties. It would have been nice to have one sometimes, but I got by. I do like having the ability, though, to stay in closer contact with my kids. Assuming, of course, that they actually answer their phones. . .







About jamilahk

Jamilah Kolocotronis is the mother of six boys. She is also a novelist. Her books focus on family issues.
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