After a long, looooooong wait (just ask them and they'll tell you, it was, like, FOREVER), my children are now equipped with their very own phones.
When I say long wait, I mean that this is something we've been talking about for YEARS. Actually, I've been avoiding the subject as much as possible, and THEY have been talking about it. I remember when my kids were 3rd and 4th graders, and all of their friends had cell phones--the peer pressure was killing them, and, by extension, me. To add to the misery, evil stepdaughter got her own cell phone (I think she was 16 at the time) and the envy in the household was palpable.
I'm not a huge fan of little kids having phones, or teens, necessarily. Yes, I can barely leave the house without my phone, for fear of horrible incident, but for some reason, I don't extend that same logic to my children. I mean...they haven't had one all this time, and nobody has died or anything, so...what's the big deal? I have always been able to reach them when I needed to. (Why? Because ALL of their friends have cell phones and I have their numbers--in MY cell phone! HA!) At the same time, I'm not one of those "good old days" people. I don't very often remind my children (or myself) of when I was their age and if I wanted to talk on the phone, I had to hang out in either the kitchen or the dining room of my parent's house, because the cord only reached so far. I'm not nostalgic, even a little. I love me some technology.
I grew up in a good technological time. I was born in 1966. We used phones for fun, not just as a means to communicate bad news or other such items of urgency. What has happened, over the years, of course, is that "bad news" has gone from "Aunt Sally died" or "The bridge is down" to "Aaaaugh! I have the acoustic version of 'Layla' stuck in my head!" or "The barrister fucked up my latte!" Our drama has become decidedly more self-involved. We blog about all of our daily crap, we update our Facebook status, we Twitter. Hardly any of the things we feel the urgent need to share matter much in the grand scheme of things.
I believe that the secret lies simply in balance. Yeah, you can update your Facebook status from your phone, but is this something you would interrupt a face-to-face conversation to do? Or is it a nice thing to distract you while you are waiting in a long line? (On that note, it would have been really, really fantastic to be able to use my phone during the 8 hours I spent in the emergency room last week. Go figure--the one place you're stuck with no phone is also the one that requires the longest period of time in which you will have nothing to do.)
I think that as long as you maintain your perspective, you're fine, and hopefully, the long, loooooong wait for cell phones has instilled a wee bit of this perspective in my children. They have been texting (on my phone) for a long time, but, they have been limited in how much they can do that (ahem, MY phone), and I believe it has kept them from the drama overload that so often comes with people having way, way too much access to each other. Hopefully, they will recognize stupidity when it is staring them in the face and not feel compelled to answer every dumb thing. We'll see.
Of course I realize that I am very, very old, or I certainly wouldn't be saying any of these things. I still have rules about when phones are OK, and when they're just annoying. You can't use a phone during a meal at my house, for example. We used to make the stepson hand over the phone at 10:30PM because he had a nasty habit of staying on it all night. (It is worth noting that since I no longer live with him, he has returned to his night-owl ways. Hmmm...)
On Sunday, I was sitting on the couch, reading the paper, when I got a phone call. It was Punky. She wanted to show me something, and she was calling me from her room down the hall. Yes, she wanted me to get up off the couch and come to her room. Guess what? New rule: You can't call people when you are both within the confines of the apartment. I say this as someone who has sat on a patio and used my phone to get a kid to bring me a soda...While this would appear to be bordering on hypocritical, the truth is that I just have a thing against yelling. My parents, if they needed us to bring them something, would yell at us to come outside, then tell us what they wanted, and we would have to go back inside and get it. Never mind the fact that I really don't want my whole neighborhood involved in my conversations with my children or passing judgement on me because I'm too damn lazy to get my own soda, it's just more efficient to call...Besides, I'm a parent. I believe that bringing stuff to your parents for no other reason than because they asked you to is an important rite of passage. Ask me how many times my father got his own beer. Go ahead, ask.
The only huge bummer about my kids having phones (besides the bill, of course) is that because they have been using MY phone for so long, now my phone is completely junked out and crappy compared to their shiny new phones. Time to upgrade, for sure. More bells and whistles, please! Don't worry, I won't get a phone that can bring me a soda or do the dishes or anything--that's what the kids are for.