Tech Opinion(s) on getting a cell phone for a 9 year old

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  1. I tried to do a search for this topic, and didn't find one. So my apologies if it has been discussed before.

    Two years ago, my daughter was at a different school when she was in first grade (she is now in third grade and has been at the same school when we switched her in second grade), and unfortunately as awesome as this school was, the population wasn't so good. We don't live in a large city, but in a downtown area because we live in a loft, which we absolutely love and wouldn't have it any other way.

    OK, there were several instances at her prior school where she would need to get a hold of me right away, and apparently the office phone wasn't always available. And one time, when her bus arrived at the bus stop a few minutes early, and obviously she couldn't call me. Luckily, the bus driver waited with her until I showed up.

    We got her one of those Firefly phones and it worked very well for its intended purpose—emergencies. Especially since she was 7 years old, she had no problems learning to use it.

    Ever since she has been at this other school, luckily she hasn't needed to call me for an emergency (but obviously we can't determine when emergencies will happen), but if she does, she can easily go to the office phone.

    Last year however, the school had a tornado warning so the school was on lock down, which made it almost impossible for parents to call. My daughter couldn't call me because the office phone was inundated with parents calling and kids calling their parents, etc.

    Since I let her Firefly phone expire, I am contemplating getting her another one, but this time, a regular-styled phone, not the Firefly phone. But I think it would be in my best interest to get a Go Phone—a pay-as-you-go phone—not a regular one on my plan with Sprint. This way, I can monitor her usage, etc. She would be the ONLY person in her age group that has a phone.

    Is this insane to do this? I am wanting to do it for emergency purposes only, but realize that she may be at the age where having a cell phone is perceived as being "cool."

    What is your advice/opinion on this?

    Sorry for the long thread.
  2. Honestly, I would just get one of the emergency phones again. At her age, there is really no need for a regular cell phone and if none of her friends have it, then there is really no need.
  3. #3 Jan 24, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2009
    Well, I don't have a kid. But I was a kid not too long ago, and IMO, those situations are not situations in which a phone call is really necessary. Tornadoes happened here with regularity, and I'm not sure how the ability to call would really make a difference in anything. We certainly weren't able to, and we all lived. Tornado lockdowns were kind of routine, honestly.

    Maybe the attitudes of parents have changed? I'm not sure. But I don't think anything more than an emergency firefly would be appropriate. Cell phones can't combat reality, kwim? What happens, happens. I think giving a kid a measure of independence from your grasp while at school is probably a positive thing for their development, in the long run. For the bus stop situation? Sure. But a firefly would cover that.
  4. What happened with all the kids in the 70's, 80's, 90's that never had a phone? They survived. By the time she is 10, she will expect an iphone and at 12 a car.

    o.k., I am sorry...that is just a rant I have with kids getting so much these days without earning any of it. THEY ARE ALL SP0ILED.

    Schools do not allow phones and if they see it on her, she will get in alot of trouble no matter what excuse you use....there is a reason that rule is in place.

    If there is an emergency, she will be able to contact you or the school will.
  5. Who cares how she's "perceived" for having a cell phone? Sounds to me like you know exactly why you feel a need for her to have one and since you're the parent and the one paying for it - it's your business if you choose to get one for her. I don't think that it's at all insane for a 9 year old to have phone in this day and age for emergences or even personal use if she so chooses.

    We got our daughter her first cell phone when she was 9. My husband and I were going on vacation and she was staying with my parents for two weeks. We got her the phone so that she could feel connected to us 24/7. We told her to feel free to call us day or night, even if it was just to say hello. My parents would have allowed her to do the same by using their phone (call us any time she wanted for what ever reason) but I didn't want her running up their bill and I knew she would be more comfortable not having to ask permission each and every time even though the answer would've been yes. It worked out great. She also used it to call her friends back home for those two weeks she was away. No problem. When we got back home, she barely used it at all. She's 15 now and she's had several phones over the years. Athough she uses it more talking to friends now, she doesn't go overboard with it.

    You sound like a sane parent who has good reasons for getting her child a phone. I say go for it!
  6. Thanks, print*model, I appreciate your input, along with everybody else's.

    Also, unfortunately in this day and age, there is that prevalence of pedophiles. I can't even imagine something like that happening to her, but let's face it, it's 2009, not 1989. Times have seriously changed, not just technology. Perhaps it is the advent of technology that has created this issue with pedophilia, I don't know.

    All I do know is, she's our only child and she is everything to us. I can't imagine her being stranded somewhere because of not being able to get a hold of us. Situations happen.

    Last year when she had a play date after school at her friend's house, she took the bus home with her and her mom was late getting there to pick them up (which really annoyed me when I heard this, because apparently she was late getting a massage). Because she was with her friend and her friend's older brother, the brother decided that they should walk to his friend's house. OK, I don't know this "friend," and I don't know their parents. The LAST thing I want my then 8 year old daughter doing is walking to some stranger's house because the mom wasn't responsible enough to get there at the bus stop on time.

    This is another situation where I wish she would have had a cell phone, because she could have called me and I could have been there within 5 minutes to pick her up.

    So yes, having a cell phone does have its advantages.

    With all due respect, I always hated the excuse of "well, when we were kids we didn't have cell phones and we turned out just fine." I'm sorry, but I honestly think that's an ignorant response. No offense to those of you who responded with this, it's just my opinion.

    What about our great-grandparents that didn't have electricity? Does that mean that we shouldn't have electricity because they didn't have it and they turned out just fine?

    Because of computer technology, we are able to match DNA with criminals, input fingerprints into a database which helps find criminals faster, we now know where sex offenders live because of computers. The list doesn't end there, believe me.

    We will not let her do the text messaging thing because not only do none of her friends have a cell phone, we feel there is no need for her to be texting at this age.

    I appreciate your opinions/advice, and please, I would like to hear more.

  7. To me, that is pretty young for a cell phone. But that is completely up to you. Schools are strict about kids having cell phones (even high schools), so I would just be aware of that.
  8. I totally agree with this.
    I do not think she needs a cell phone IMO, and i would not buy her one, but of course, it is totally up to you.
  9. Schools are pretty strict about phones, but if she has a locker or desk she can keep it in, powered off or on silent, that would work. I definitely understand why you would want her to have some way of instant communication with you. Go with your gut.
  10. I totally agree with you! Our daughter is an only child as well. So, I am completely with you on everything you've just said.

    I grew up in the 70's and yes, I came out just fine. BUT - back then, our "world" was so small compared to now. My life was going to school, coming home, doing homework and playing in the neighborhood until dinner. There was no need for a cell phone when you're rollerskating, po-go-sticking and playing jacks or kickball until dark. Your point is very well taken!

    This is an entirely NEW WORLD our kids are growing up in now. And yes, there have always been creeps out there waiting for the perfect opportunity to take advantage of kids but certainly no where near like things are today! This is a very scary world we live in now. This idea of having a cell phone has nothing to do with being "spoiled" to me. I just need to know that she can get ahold of me if she needs to. And if she also wants to use it to talk with her friends. That's fine too.

    I just heard this past week about the police finding the body of a missing 13 year old girl. Last seen leaving a public library after school. They found her a day later - dead in the woods. I wonder if she had a cell phone?
  11. I personally would go with a Firefly or T-Mobile has this pay as you go phone that's only $20 and it looks like any other T-Mobile phone (not like a kiddie phone). Seems cheaper than the Firefly.
  12. I agree, which is why I have this dilemma in the first place.

    For the record though, when she had her Firefly phone, her school was VERY understanding with it. Mainly because she didn't use it—she explained to them that it was for emergencies.
  13. OMG, I hate hearing stories like that. It totally freaks me out! There are so many sickos out there it disgusts me. But I don't want to turn this into a depressing thread.

    However, who knows if God for bid something like that did happen, maybe having a cell phone would be ideal. IDK, I hate to think of these types of scenarios, as it's more for if she's stuck at school because of a snow storm, etc. My husband mainly picks her up since I work an hour away from home, and he is in a place where he doesn't hear the news so readily, and doesn't have windows, so if it was just dumping outside, she could call. But then again, she could use the office phone, too.

    Such a dilemma...
  14. Oh, I should look into that. To her, she won't know the difference and since I'm not going to put it on our Sprint contract, this could be ideal. Thanks for the tip.
  15. My DH and I got my daughter a cell phone a 9. Our reasoning was there are a lot of times when we drop her off at activities and we should she need us she was able to call us and not have to rely on someone else. It did also make her become aware of responsibility. It was the Firefly when she was 9 and when the 2 year contract was up we got her a regular phone. The internet was locked down and no text messages but we encourgaged her to use it to call her family members as well. This was our way of kind of letting her branch out a little more with it as she got older. She is 12 now and wanted text messaging and we did give her text messaging for $5.00 a month she got 200 messages. She came to me a while later and asked about unlimited texting. She told me that she was sometimes scared to text because she felt like she was getting close to her limits. We all have unlimited texting now but we are on a family plan it was a difference of about 10 cents a year maybe. I felt like she was responsible enough to not go over and ask instead of running up a big bill.

    I think it is one of those things where each parent has to decide based on the reasons for the need and the responsibility level of the child.