Why does a 10 year old need a smart phone?

I just don’t get it… everywhere I turn, 5 year olds, 8 year olds, 10…14…why? Why does a CHILD need a smartphone? The only answer to this question is… they don’t! There just isn’t a single, solid, based-in-logic reason why a child under the age of “you can pay for it yourself” that NEEDS a smartphone. Period!

I have five kids – all pretty much grown now, but one still in high school and all driving. When my oldest was approaching driving age, I was expecting that we would find a simple, inexpensive way for him to get a hold of us if he should get stuck somewhere … mechanical failure or even something as silly as locking his keys in the car – we’ve all done it and often at the most embarassing times… been there? The sad part is we never got the chance to look into and purchase that phone. Why? Well – his grandmother (ex-mother-in-law) decided he needed one much sooner than that. So at 14 she decided to put him on her plan. OK I thought, now what – couldn’t really say much, wasn’t coming out of my pocket and honestly if you knew the woman you’d understand that putting up a fight wasn’t going to get me anywhere. About a year later, back in the day when upgrades came cheap and quick, my son convinced his grandmother to get him a smart phone and promised he’d pay for it – the upgrade was free, the plan was an extra $30 a month added to hers and he was now working. NO! I pleaded, but again, my opinion fell on deaf ears – mostly, I’m convinced since she knew it was making me crazy. And it did, I had just gotten a 1st generation iTouch for crying out loud and here was my 15 year old with the latest and greatest. Well so began the slow progression of every one of my kids getting connected – even though three had to wait until they were of driving age, the youngest, now 17, just  wound up with an iPhone 5s – yes against my wishes – because honestly it was going to cost us more to get him a dumb phone (remember those?) on a pay as you go plan! Wait, what? A simple flip phone on a pay as you go plan is now more expensive than a smart phone on a bundled, multi-line, multi-phone, family plan? Sadly yes!

But do they really need a phone at all? Yes, I’m serious – when we were kids, mom didn’t need to call us to come home, it was understood – be home before the street lights came on – right?  They knew where the kids were – at the neighbors’ house, playing outside and every parent was keeping an eye on every kid. We didnt need to check our Facebook or Instagram or Twitter – oh sure we were watching more TV than we should have on rainy days, but if the weather was good (not warm mind you) – sun shining – all the parents in the neighborhood made us go out and entertain ourselves.

Today, between the 55 inch LED Smart TV in the living room, the 32 inch in the bedroom, the laptop (for school of course) the 10 inch tablet, the smartphone, and now the connected watch (Look out Dick Tracy!) – this is crazy!! And have you stopped to consider the cost? in my house, 4 smart phones, 10GB data – $250 a month. And I knew what I was sigining up for – that’s a doggone car payment. And if you do a Dave Ramsey calculation – $250 a month for 40 years, you wind up with $2,577,427.05! YIKES! Talk about opportunity cost. Hope your kid likes the phone!

OK – I’m done with the rant – what do you think? Is there an age where this makes sense in your world? When did you get your child a smart phone? What reasons did you come up with for this making sense?

Feedback always welcome – thanks for reading and sharing!

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