My youngest boy (who is technically an adult) has only had a cell phone sporadically over his lifetime. They have all been hand me downs except one, and almost everyone of them had some flaw such as broken glass or parts of the screen that couldn’t be viewed. He has not had access to a data plan or anything other than pay as you go texting and occasional calling. I’ve watched the Dude’s children get(multiple)brand new phones , on full plans, while my young adult went without. I have always held the belief that twelve year olds do not need cell phones, so my boys went without…until they were old enough to get their own.
Last year my boy jumped into adulthood and signed himself up for a full fledged smart phone plan, got himself a new cell phone, and was quite proud of himself. His downfall – he signed up for a shared plan with his friend and the friend kept going over the limits of the plan and had not consistently paid for the overage charges, leaving my son to foot the bill since the plan was in his name. And then tragedy…he fell asleep with the phone in his hand and rolled over onto his three month old phone rendering it unusable. And of course he makes minimum wage at his job so he could not afford to buy a new one. Result is – he paid hundreds of dollars over the year for a phone that he could not use and for overages that he clearly had not contributed to. There were some months that he could not afford the excessive bill so the phone company eventually cut the service and charged him the buyout, which he finally paid off using his tax return. One less worry for his young moneyless self. One huge lesson leaned about the limits of friendship and sharing. His friend has promised to pay him back but I will believe that when I see it.
For almost a year now, anytime I needed to speak to my boy I had to leave a note on the counter and hope he found it in time, or I had to hunt him down in the small town where he visits his friends regularly and just show up on their doorstep like an overbearing mother (which I am not). Hunting him down is an easier task than most might think since his unique vehicle stands out in a crowd, but it would be so much easier to just be able to text him and have instant response. So I started thinking to myself that the kid needs a phone. He needs a phone that is fully functioning with all the capabilities that most ten year olds are enjoying daily. We don’t have a home phone so I was constantly worrying that he’s going to hurt himself when he’s home alone and not be able to call anyone for help. The kid needs a phone!
I recently decided I wanted to upgrade my phone and get off the shared plan that Dude and I have with his teenage daughter who has ALWAYS gone over the limits of the plan without any regard to the fact that her Dad had to pay for it. It was time for me to break free and I saw it as a good opportunity for my boy and I to take advantage of the back to school deals and get us both some new phones. After a couple of weeks of researching what he and I wanted, we went off to Costco to speak to their mobile phone expert and get us something new and cool. Success! New phones for free with reasonable monthly costs and a new durable protective cover for my Son’s phone to protect it from the inevitable drop to the ground.
I am confident that he is mature enough to manage this new expense. And now I don’t have to worry that he will have to walk home down some empty farm road because his truck has broken down. I am relieved of endless worry because I know that he is just a quick text or phone call away. I am calm because the kid has a phone.
As time passes he will eventually want to break the mother/son tie of a shared plan and venture back out on his own phone plan…but for now, this works for us. Baby steps. Baby steps.