Baby’s First Cell Phone: What’s the Right Age?

*A Note from Kelly: Yay! We have a new guest post! It’s been a while since we’ve had a dad in the house! Javier Sanchez works from home as a software engineer so he can spend more time with his kids. Writing about cloud technology and advancements in the digital world are his specialties. I’m hoping that you enjoy this article as much as I did. I just recently got my girls their first phone at age 8. We have established very tight rules on it… but so far… giving them phones has been a really smart move for us. Now… read on… 

Close-up of a woman sending a text lying on a sofa

A friend of mine received a letter recently from her 11-year-old son, outlining quite succinctly why he should have a cellphone of his own. While we giggled at his adult-like organization and tenacity, his mother debated whether 11 was really old enough to be responsible with a cellphone.

According to Consumer Reports magazine, nearly six out of six out of 10 tweens, kids between the ages of 8 and 12, have a cellphone provided by their parents, and WebMD reports that twice as many kids have cellphones today as had them in 2004. However, deciding what’s right for your particular child can be difficult.

Arguments for getting your child a cellphone

Most parents (84 percent) cite safety as their primary reason for getting their son or daughter a cellphone, according to the Consumer Reports study. There’s no denying the convenience of being able to reach your child without fuss and having them be able to reach you in an emergency. Having a cellphone also helps teach children responsibility. They have to keep track of the phone and they are responsible for checking in with parents.

Concerns about children and cellphones

One of the concerns surrounding children and cellphones involves the radiation emitted from the devices. Though the amount is quite a bit less than one would receive by getting an X-ray, WebMD points out that little research has been done on the effects of cellphones to developing brains. They also cite concerns about cellphones interrupting sleep and the fact that 28 percent of all traffic accidents are caused by drivers texting or making a cellphone call.

Sexting (sending nude or semi-nude pictures via a cellphone) is another big concern. Such pictures can have long-lasting consequences, such as affecting job chances and even landing the child in jail. SheKnows.com suggests telling your child not to post anything she wouldn’t be comfortable having her grandmother see. The possibility of sexting also makes a good argument for getting your child a “no frills” phone. Many T-mobile cellphones, for example, can be set up to block certain websites, messages, international call and more.

Saving money on your child’s cellphone

Once you decide that your child is ready for his or her own phone, find a phone and a plan that best fits your budget. Most kids want the latest smartphone, but savvy parents are looking to find the most affordable, basic cellphone and calling plan available. Ask your service provider about any parental control services that it offers to find out how to limit web surfing and prevent excessive texting, to prevent sky-high phone bills.

Getting a cellphone for your child doesn’t have to break the budget. According to Consumer Reports, 92 percent of parents surveyed pay less than $75 per month for their child’s calling plan. Eschew the bells and whistles like Web access. Most kids can access the Internet both at home and school; do they really need Web capability on their phone? Prepaid phone plans can also help you keep a handle on your child’s phone usage. Such plans have gotten a lot more sophisticated in the past few years and now most offer texting and/or data plans.

Deciding to buy your child a cellphone is a big decision. Take your time to weigh the pros and cons. You can take comfort in the fact that 89 percent of the parents in the Consumer Reports study were happy they had chosen to buy the phone.

Do your kids have phones? What went into the decision making process? And… if  your kids don’t have phones… When will you take the leap!?

m4s0n501

Under Siege: “Computer broken, Daddy”

 

or  Living very carefully in a pink cloud of estrogen…

Not sure if you remember me, but it’s been a while.

Hi.

I’m Dave, that stay-at-home-dad to three girls: 6-year old Sydney, and her 2-year old twin sisters Emma & Maddie. I know…THREE GIRLS.  I had joked with a friend once about having a bevy of girls when I was younger, but this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

I’ve been a bit absent lately. Turns out my middle child, Emma, decided last November that she wanted my laptop. She wanted it to be a little closer to her, down there on the floor and quickly took decisive action to make that happen. It seems the power cord to a resting laptop is a very attractive thing to pull on…so she did. Crash! Laptop met the floor, and died a quick death. Thanks Emma.. Good work. My girls are assertive, that’s for sure.

It should be said of that laptop, though, that it wasn’t in good shape. Polluted with spyware/malware and a grossly overstuffed hard drive, we could easily look at this as Emma putting it out of its misery.  Maddie, the youngest (Emma’s twin), had months earlier rendered a number of keys on the keyboard inoperable or missing all together.  I never really got the full story, but my wife, their mother and co-conspirator, let them tap away on the keyboard (tap = pound). To the best of my recollection, your honor, I last saw the laptop with the arrow-keys and the number “6” key in fine working order, and return to discover two of the arrow keys missing altogether and the “6” key floating on the keyboard, unable to be secured back into its place. You don’t realize how often you actually use the “6” key until it’s gone?  It’s a lot more often than you might think.

The lost arrow keys and the wonky “6” didn’t impede my contributing to this site, Everyday Childhood (although I do blame their absence and inoperability for all syntax and spelling errors in said contributions). I discretely worked around these issues without commenting on them publicly (just a series of private “What happened here?” and “You kids are NEVER allowed to touch this laptop, EVER!!!” comments, made usually to nobody in particular (since I’m usually ignored – testosterone, it seems, renders me invisible in my home – it didn’t really matter.) But the demise of the laptop at the hands of midget #2 ended my contributing rather suddenly.

Because I am here, back in the saddle, as it were, you can conclude that I’ve got a new laptop. Shiny and new, free of all that malicious software and boasting a squeaky clean and even more so, enormous hard-drive…I’ve missed being able to share my adventures with and the exploits of my girls. I’m excited about the adventures to come.

Since we last spoke, all those months ago, so many things have happened. We’ve moved from an urban setting to a very suburban neighborhood where we’re still settling into new routines, discovering things to do in our new neighborhood, experiencing exciting dramas with new friends and neighbors all while learning an assortment of shortcuts to the closest Starbucks and Cold Stone Creamery. I’m compiling a list of all the best places I can escape to (that is not located in either my backyard or garage) to enjoy a beer, or watch a hockey game…an escape from the kids on those rare occasions when that is possible or required.  I’m even compiling a list of the best and worst places to take the kids for lunch when they revolt against the mac n’ cheese and I find myself once again under siege, defending my sanity….and this laptop… from these tiny, albeit adorable, vandals.

Under Siege: The Battle of No

 
Or… My New Two Least Favorite Letters.

Note from the Editor: I’ve been lazy this week… But clearly the Dad’s have been on the ball. My friend and new neighbor, Dave, shares below a bit about his least favorite letters… N. O. Happy weekend my friends! xo- Kel

I’ve been trying to find the funny in all of this. To find the things that will make you not look at this posting as though you’re witnessing a guy venting about things that seem unworthy of venting about. I’ve had plenty to vent about over the last couple months…and saying that out loud like this, I feel ridiculous myself.

 

I’m a very lucky guy. This is true. I have a wonderful wife and 3 beautiful, smart, healthy little girls, each with a crazier, almost sardonic, wit than the last. They’re sweet, sassy and exhibit great understanding of sarcasm for a 5 year old and twin 2 year olds. These are things I find wonderful about my girls. They’re constantly changing, though, and new facets of their personalities come to light at some of the most unexpected of times. With all that we’ve been up to, the events in our lives of late, the twins have found it the right time, for them, to embrace a new, more rigid approach to demanding things. Exhibited by their increasing reliance on the word “No” It’s as if they found themselves realizing that “No” can actually be their pat answer to EVERYTHING that is asked of them. It made this last summer much more challenging in new and interesting ways, but seems to have become their policy in the last few weeks…right in the middle of our move The funny part in this, is that they even answer “No” to things they want…and for a few moments before they realize that they’ve answered wrongly, it’s being able to see them back-pedal, and try to convince me that the “No” was in error, and that they want it…”Yes, yes…”

 

Beyond the “Battle of the No’s”, It’s been quite a busy couple of months. We’ve spent the last 5 months house hunting, and dragging our three little girls fussing and complaining (and giggling) through the whole process with us. They’ve, to a point, even been able to voice their opinions about the houses we’ve seen along this path to a new home. Mostly, their opinions were laced with lots of saying “No”, of course. I’ve felt a great deal of sympathy toward our real estate agent for putting up with all the drama that these 3 little girls bring along, as if they’re pulling little wagons filled with crazy behind them, everywhere we go. The screaming and the running around like little sugar-propelled crazies through these empty and, sometimes very much, lived-in houses, I’m certain I’ve beaten my personal best for the number of times apologizing for their craziness. They grew to be much better and considerate of the places we were seeing as we went along. Finally, after looking at dozens of homes, we found the perfect house! Two offers, two counter-offers, more negotiating and suspicion that the seller’s agent wasn’t excited about selling the place to us and consequently tried to delay the process even more, we managed to close on our new digs. Not a single “No” from the girls though. They loved the place right from the get go… The girls have good taste.

 

Back before our daughters came along, moving seemed inconvenient and cumbersome, but a relatively easy process. When there are kids in the picture, however, we’ve learned, that the move goes from being a simple thing to an infinitely more complex exercise in logistics, strategic car swapping, sleep-management and sanity-maintenance. We’re now closing out a week and a half of packing our belongings into a loading truck, driving the massive moving truck to the new place, unloading, sorting, unpacking and organizing is now complete, now for the fine tuning…

 

{NOTE: it was at this point, as I was writing this last night, sitting on the couch in our dimly lit new living room…that I passed out. Laptop, on my lap… Fingers on the keyboard. I don’t remember much of the moment, but it seems I looked up for a moment too long to watch a scene from “Tron: Legacy” –this is no indication of the quality of that movie, by the way – on the television…then…blackness.  I woke up around 2:30 AM, laptop still on my lap, still whirring… Posting still not complete. Saved the file. Closed the laptop. Fell back asleep.}

 

…Waking up in our new place is a wonderful feeling. The girls wake up with the sun (which sounds nice, BUT…) and this place just fills up with sunlight and the sound of little girls doing what little girls do each morning. In this case, this morning, little girls apparently come and wake their Daddy, who passed out on the couch last night, by slapping him on the face and exhorting “Wake up, Dada….Wake UP!”  SLAP!

 

“Leave Daddy alone for a bit, baby. I’m tired…it’s…what?…(looks at watch)…it’s 5:37.”

 

Followed quickly, in unison, with a…“No!”

 

 

 

 

Real Men Wear Pink

Editor’s Note: This week we have Jeff, from Out With the Kids, joining us. Below he shares his thoughts on the “think pink” campaigns surrounding October. What are your feelings on it? Give us a shout in the comments and follow Jeff on Twitter @OWTK for more. Thanks for reading on this Dad Stalking Friday!

November will be here in a flash and many women will still be diagnosed with, fight like hell to beat, and unfortunately succumb to breast cancer. That thousands of burly men will spend their October weekends with pink towels tucked into their skin-tight pants and pink tape wrapped around their tender ankles isn’t going to change any of that.

In a culture that simultaneously fears and demonizes homosexuality, and use the color pink to denote all things feminine, the statement being made this month by the players, coaches, and staff of the National Football League is worth noting even if it will not directly lead to the eradication of the disease it is intended to raise awareness of or make the men involved any less homophobic.

There are countless problems facing our world. Whether or not we “think pink,” sign an email petition to help local farmers, or #occupywallstreet, we’re likely not going to shift the balance of power in the direction of the good side, but I’ve come to believe that it’s the aggregate that matters; that tiny things on top of more tiny things over the course of time can and will lead to a better you, a better life, and a better world.

So as we watch the physically gifted lads of the gridiron battle it out this month in stadiums across the country with shades of pink swirling about, let’s take stock of the fact that some good will come from their pink apparel, that the gesture matters because all things matter. It might just lead to an enlightening conversation at home with your child as you cheer on your hometown team together about what it means to support someone or something that is bigger than any of us as individuals. It may very well lead to a young boy seeing firsthand that men needn’t be afraid of the color pink and all the negative stereotypes that come with it.

It may take a long while, but know that someday we’ll have a cure for breast cancer, and for the other things that plague us. In the meantime, hug your mom, grandmother, aunt, sister and daughter a little tighter the next time you see them.

Second Verse. (Not the) Same as the First.

We had our second son on Wednesday. Jack Peter now has a little brother. Reid Parker. We take him home today.

Already, I’ve a new parental philosophy. (In my mind, I can see Angela Chase fix Jordan Catalano with that look. “You have a philosophy?” I miss My So-Called Life.)

Different. Not better. Just different.

It’s a mantra, a Buddist ‘om’ said between breaths. Having two of anything begs comparison. As parents, my wife and I have no other frames of reference.

One came out with a full head of Blagojevich-esque hair (Jack.) One did not. (Reid.) One came quick and easy. (Reid.) One did not. (Jack.) One makes a lot of noise, little mews and cries. (Reid.) One didn’t. (Jack.)

This list could go on, stretching well into their adulthood. It is my sacred mission as a father to make sure that it doesn’t.

My worry is that these kinds of comparisons become the way I talk about my boys for the rest of my life. That they hear these comparisons as proof of preference. My preference.

If I had one fear as a re-new Dad, aside from dropping Reid on his soft little head, it’s that my heart wouldn’t have room for them both. That I would be incapable of giving each of them the love and attention that they deserve.

Silly. The fears of a rank amateur.

Our best stretch in the hospital so far was Thursday morning, when my mother-in-law brought Jack in to meet his brother. As much love as I’d focused on Reid, I realized I’d missed my other little guy. As much as Jack wanted to see Lara and I, he loved sitting in my lap while we looked at Reid. “Baby brother,” he kept saying, then looking at us to smile.

The hair. The mewing. The delivery time. None of it matters. It’s just description. How I anchor you each in my mind, boys. What makes you different from each other. Not better. Just different.

I love you just the same. And for exactly who you are.

Note From the Editor: This post made me shed many tears as a mom. Tears that could relate. Tears that wonder if I secretly or maybe not so secretly compare my girls. Follow Alan on Twitter @AlanKercinik and read more of his blog at Always Jacked. And as always… leave a note. Can you relate?

The First Letter Home

Note From the Editor: It’s Friday and the means we hear from the Dads! Today, we hear from John, from The Daddy Yo Blog. You can follow him on Twitter @TheDaddyYoDude. His post discusses what it’s like to get that first note home from the teacher… Read, Relate, Comment. Much Love- Kelly

To my knowledge, I never wrote any letters home from summer camp. Probably because I never went to camp that was longer than a week or a church trip my mom didn’t chaperone. In fact, I don’t think I have ever written too many letters home. That’s not really the point. This is the point: The first letter home that you always receive as a parent, is often not the kind of letter you expect. For me, this first letter came this week. A letter about my son, who is not cooperating with his teachers.

Okay, so I hope I didn’t lead you on to think that this was going to be a shocker post. If it was that kind of letter, I probably wouldn’t write about it so quickly. Anyways, there is a reason that this note, sent home by LM’s teacher, made the “first letter home” phrase seem like a poignant title. It ushered in the beginning of a nw chapter in my journey through dadhood.

I have now reached the point where I have to not only help explain to my son why he got in trouble at school, but understand why that gets him in trouble at home too. On top of that, I now have to really start enforcing the boundaries of “want to do” and “have to do”. I admit that our children may be a little on the spoiled side, but tell me you haven’t spoiled yours at some point or another, then I might feel a little bad. Now though, more of the real life “cause and effect” pattern is creeping in to his life and I have to man up a little more to playing “Daddy Law Enforcement Agent”.

I do have to say, when my wife first told me about it, I was a little upset with myself. I was thinking “It’s my fault he didn’t do his work” and “I’ve let him down by not teaching him these things sooner.” Quickly though, it turned to thoughts of “well that’s what I get for not setting the ground rules for similar situations at home”. That’s when I realized that both of us were about to start doing a little more growing up.

It’s hard to make the transition from the guy who tells the rules, to the dad who enforces the rules because he has to. You remember the whole saying of “it’s going to hurt me a lot worse than it hurts you”? Yeah, it’s true. I hate hearing my kids cry at anytime. But when it happens because I have to enforce the rules, I will admit that it pulls at my heart strings just a little.

That’s just one of those stops though. On the ride of parenthood, we often find ourselves stopping in some unusual and unfamiliar places. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good. That’s how it goes. We go with it, we change, we grow. From the first letter home, to the last hug goodbye on their wedding day, our children grow, but so do we.