One of the questions a parent of an incoming sixth-grader asked me after info night at Lawson Middle School: “Do ALL the kids in middle school have cell phones?”
I’ll admit that I felt A LOT of resentment five years ago when I equipped my then-sixth-grade son with his first cell phone. Our middle school does not have a pay phone, and the office is not open when after-school sports end. At that time, maybe one in seven students had a cell phone (with limited minutes and no texting enabled!).
For his safety and our piece of mind, my husband and I felt forced to get him a cell phone. My daughter got hers for a similar reason four years ago when she was in the fourth grade—the carpool driver dropped her at a soccer field for practice after school instead of home. Almost none of her classmates at the time had a cell phone.
Nowadays, it seems most of the students in middle school have a cell phone. Many have better phones and plans than I do! My daughter estimates that 90 percent of her eighth-grade classmates have a phone, and my son claims 98 percent of his 11th-grade classmates tote them (the 2 percent who don't are mostly kids who have lost their phones, and their parents refuse to replace them!).
In a recent classroom poll in a fifth-grade classroom at Lincoln Elementary, 75 percent of the students reported that they own a cell phone.
Even though it serves as an electronic leash to their parents, I think virtually any student would choose to carry one. My kids have a hard time imagining what my childhood must have been like without one.
A sign of the times? A status symbol? A right of passage? A necessity or luxury? The average age of kids getting their first cell phone seems to be dropping every year.
I realize that circumstances vary, but what do you think is the right age to equip your child with a cell phone?