Teens and Phones & Texting
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Teens and Phones & Texting
My daughter will be attending Montera Middle School in the
fall as a 6th grader. My understanding is that the bus
isn't always reliable and have been told it's a really
good idea to get a cell phone, since there are no pay
phones anymore if my daughter needed to reach me. My
question is, should we get her the phone, and if so-- how
many minutes, what about texting, etc? I was surprised
that some kids at her school have had a cell phone for a
few years already- one 5th grader has an iphone. That
seems a bit unnecessary to me, to say the least. I don't
want my daughter to not be able to get a hold of me. I
also don't want to hold her back on a social level if this
is how all the kids will be communicating, but we're not
full of money for unlimited minutes, texting plans, etc.
Any advice from parents who have navigated this path would
be much appreciated- I checked the archives and there
isn't anything very recent.
soon-to-be middle school mom
My daughter got a cell phone in middle school for just the reasons you gave. We have a
prepaid plan (Page Plus) which uses the Verizon network and costs $20 a month for
unlimited texting plus 4c a minute for calls. We top it up every three months or so
with $80, which gives her three months of texting and about 100 minutes of calls a
month, which is all she needs. The unlimited texting is really important because
that's how all her friends seem to keep in touch with one another. We'd had Verizon
phones before and thought the network was good but the calling plans really expensive
and much more than we needed. It's turned out that this is a far cheaper and perfectly
satisfactory solution. The plan doesn't allow picture messaging or internet access,
which is a plus as far as we are concerned.
We weren't planning on getting cell phones for our kids until they started driving, but
their aunt thought they needed them to be in the ''modern'' world.
So she offered to buy them phones for their birthday.
What we did was sign them up for a T-Mobile ''pay as you go'' plan. That is where you
buy minutes and pay for each call or text. There is no contract or monthly charge. If
they run out of minutes, they can't use their phone instead of a huge bill showing up
at the end of the month.
We give them a budget for minutes of $50/year. That allows them to call us a more than
once/day if necessary (10 cents/minute & 10 cents/text). T-Mobile has the most generous
roll-over plan. Once you have bought $100 worth of minutes, they don't expire for a
whole year. As long as you add money (even $10) before the year is up, your minutes
If they want to use their phone more than $50/year, it comes out of their allowance.
Here is what happened: Our daughter told her friends: ''no junk texts since I have to
pay for them''.
Our son doesn't use his phone that much, so he pockets the money left over from the
-parent of teens
What I did is give my daughter a go-phone. At&T has a $25 a month plan with unlimited
texting. I think that is the cheapest. Make sure her phone is not able to connect to
the internet or you will have a disaster on hand. That is the expensive part. I gave my
kids go-phones and strict instructions to not make more than required calls to me but
eventually gave in and got them texting.
My experience is yes for the reasons mentioned in your post. I would definately limit
use and you can expand that over time. Verizon has parental controls for $5 month
which I found extremely useful when my generally compliant middle schooler was getting
texts from friends and couldn't not return them into the early hours of the morning.
Also learned to require phone out of her room through the night, dinner, homework.
HArder to enforce now that in high school but helped through middle school. Not cheap
- I have my child pay for her data plan I pay phone. Pay as you go plans can be
cheaper with limited use.
I got my son a cell phone in middle school for my own peace of mind. He was walking
home and I wanted to be able to reach him. He didn't have texting at first but I wasn't
using texting much then either. Now I text him a lot so I would have that. The kids
won't listen to voicemails so texts are easier. ATT has parental controls where you
can only allow certain numbers at certain times so your child could reach you any time
but not be able to text or call other people during other hours, school hours or late
at night or whatever you decide. I spot check his cell usage periodically and tighten
restrictions as needed. I would avoid a smart phone because of the photos, facebook and
all the other temptations. Good luck! Middle school is a time of transition and lots of
trial and error for parent and child!
the way we did it in middle school and currently is I got my son a Pay As You Go Phone
through ATT. It is $.10 a minute and they do have text plans. $25 a month gets him
unlimited text($20 a month)and $5 of talk time. But to be honest he texts ALOT more
than talking so that $ usually rolls over. My son and I text eachother but if you don't
want her to text,the $25 can last 3 months then will expire. The benefit is no contract
and once the phone has no money, you have to refill it to use it. no surprise cellphone
bill that you hear so many stories about. Target, Radio Shack and of course ATT has
phones which usually you get $ to start with. $25 is not a lot for peace at mind that
you can always reach/be reached by your child.
We were in the same position; we have a 6th grader, and chose to get her a phone for
her 12th birthday, which was this past January, halfway through the school year. Yes,
there is much social pressure to have a phone in middle school...my daughter begged us
for one, for at least a year before she got it. But this is also an age when her
middle school is farther away from home than our elementary school, and she is starting
to be more independent, walking by herself a few blocks at a time...being dropped off
for meetings, practices, etc., rather than me always being with her. I find it
tremendously helpful to stay in contact with her. I upgraded my own phone to one with
a Qwerty keyboard (like a tiny computer keyboard) that slides out, so I can text her,
and most importantly, get your whole family on an UNLIMITED TEXTING PLAN! Most people
send thousands of texts per month...not kidding. And kids are the biggest texters.
Having a cell phone saves so much time and you aren't chasing around after your middle
schooler. It also gives her some independence and she can let you know if her plans are
changing. We have a Verizon family plan and I bought my son and daughter 2 for 1 phones
at a Verizon sale. My son has unlimited texting after an episode where he racked up
over 1000 extra emails in one month and it cost me $90 (most of which I took out of his
allowance...good learning experience). My daughter is in 6th grade and is limited to
250 texts per month. She complains but I explain that phoning is free and she is very
careful keeping track of how many texts she has used. I also have my kids pay toward
their own monthly data plans. My daughter pays $25 as she is younger and has a lower
allowance. My son pays the full $50. My monthly Verizon bill for the 3 of us is about
$182, so about $61 per person, minus $75 for the data plans.
It really helps to be able to call the kids a few minutes out and tell them to be
waiting for me outside school or cleaning up after their sleepover so they are fairly
ready to be picked up. I get call from my 6th grader that she wants to walk home with a
girlfriend and spend an hour or so after school. She can check in with me and I can OK
it remotely (and know where to pick her up!).
It is useful to have a phone in middle school, because the schedule of activities tends
to be less regular than in elementary school. Depending on the reception, texting is
helpful because sometimes texts get through and calls don't. On the other hand, a
middle school phone is going to get lost, or broken. So our solution was to buy the
cheapest one possible. It was on the family plan, and one could slowly send texts on
it, but it was the cheapest plan, and we told our daughter not to text her friends, as
it was free to text us but not anyone else. It worked out ok, though the phone was lost
a couple of times and then found again.
Hi There, soon to be middle-school mom!
Ah yes, the phone thing. My then 5th now 6th grader REALLY wanted one. Getting and
keeping her phone has been contingent on grades and behavior. She's also really good
about not losing stuff. The cell phone plan is something you can adjust according to
need-our family plan has unlimited texting and that's what the kids really want. It's a
real boon for me too as i dont hear well but can still communicate with my daughter.
She doesn't take the bus and has after-school activities in multiple spots and as there
are very few if any public phones around any more it's the best way for us to be in
Perhaps half the kids in her 5th grade class had phones. This year they all do.
yep, she needs a phone.
I have a sixth grader at Montera. Yes--they all have cell phones, and yes, it has been
After looking into adding a new phone to our current plan and being horrified at the
cost, I learned about a wonderful, cheap alternative: A totally separate plan through
Kajeet, which is just for kids and has lots of great features (parental controls, no
Something you may not have considered is that the cell phone is an AMAZINGLY wonderful
tool for getting good behavior out of your child--it can be taken away easily and
they'll do anything to get it back!
Our deal with our child is that we cover the monthly cost when she gets straight A's at
each marking period. If there are any Bs, she has to pay the bill (by doing chores
around the house). This is something she definitely keeps in mind when doing homework &
studying for tests (''I have to ace this project...I don't want to have to pay for the
No, your child does not need a phone for middle school. I have an 8th
grader who has done just fine without one. He borrows mine on occasional
outings, but otherwise goes without. He doesn't ride public transit to
school, my only criteria for giving a kid a phone this young.
I know lots of kids who have them, they often are the ones who won't have
a conversation with you and who stare at it whenever they can. It can be
a crutch for kids and parents to avoid interaction. My kid is pretty
independent and has many years to be attached to a iphone.
My 6th grader has a cell phone because i work in SF and am sometimes late in picking
her up. We always have a plan on where and when we will meet, but if i run late or
BART breaks or the bus gets stuck, you bet I want to tell her to relax and i will be
there. Or if it starts to rain and she wants to wait for me at the public library,
then i will know.
She does not use it much at all, other than for our end of school
communication....now my high school Junior is another story .
I missed the original post but wanted to say that we made the decision to get our
youngest a cell phone in 6th grade (the oldest had to wait until high school) when she
started doing more and going more places on her own. We lost track of her a couple of
times after school and that was enough for us to invest in the ''electronic leash.''
It has been a mixed bag, but has been a critical tool in arranging after school pick
ups on the fly.
Just caught our 9th grade son sexting his new girlfriend on Skype. He
left the messages up on the screen without clearing them, so there
they were sitting for us. Quite explicit and frank in their sexuality.
The girlfriend was responding with even more explicit responses, so it
was being reinforced on both ends.
I would love people's thoughts on this. We responded by taking away
Skype and computer privileges for one month, talking about the
''public'' side of sexting (both with people forwarding texts/pictures,
as well as public being us, his parents), and have re-opened
discussions about safe sex, readiness for sex.
He insists that sexting is pervasive, but we insist that it is not and
will not be pervasive in our family. Is this the new version of having
a Playboy-tucked-under-your-mattress sex exploration? Is there really
any way to stop it besides completely unplugging him? We have talked
to our older children and they agree that sexting is truly pervasive
and that they received dozens and dozens of sexts and pictures/videos
throughout high school.
Are we being old-fashioned? How best to respond to this?
mom of a sexter
We added a restriction on photos and videos when both our teenagers got
unlimited texting. It may not stop the explicit words, but we drew the line
I've caught my son sexting too (he's in 10th now), also on skype, because
it is not apparent how to delete the chats I think but I have a feeling
it's gone on on facebook, itouch, and phone too. There are so many
possibilities! None of the times I saw were with a girlfriend but girls he
knew...his age. I tried to stop it and mostly tried to communicate our
values, sex as part of a loving relationship, not exploitive, don't try to
get people to do what they don't want to, internet safety etc. etc. but
like you I feel out of my depth. The chat was more explicit than I've ever
been comfortable with myself! Part of me thinks good if he can talk to
women about sex easily...and ultimately he will need to figure out what sex
means to him but I keep trying to convey my values while knowing I can't
really control the flow of information...
First of all - don't feel embarrassed or think something is wrong with your
child. he is right; This problem is ubiquitous. However, you still need to
tell him no.
He doesn't have to agree, he just has to realize that you have every right
to insist on this in your home. He also needs to respect the fact that you
are looking out for him and in your opinion it isn't wise or safe. You can
give him your reasons and he can buy into it or not:
1) It isn't private. He may end up with private information in the wrong
hands or photos ending up where he least wants them. ex: you found his
conversation and he didn't mean for that to happen. What if the girl leaves
her end open? What if someone deliberately passes on the images.
2) Kids do things over the computer they might not do in person and this
may lead to the development of a kind of sexuality that in the end is
damaging. You can tell your son that even the most liberal of us are
concerned about the numbing effect of all of this. The sexual response is
something to be protective of.
Do your best to police this. But don't fall apart if he doesn't comply
right away. The important thing is that you minimize the behavior and stay
firm. It doesn't matter what his brother thinks or whether or not it is
pervasive. That isn't the point. You are right.
Don't be at all angry about this. Just be a broken record and take the
computer down so they can't skype after 10pm. Make sure the computer is in
a public place. Don't go back to unsupervised private skyping for a long
time - it isn't necessary and is probably too big a temptation.
Looking for recommendations of regular cell phones --
not 'smart' phones -- with good tracking/people locator
feature. I'd prefer to have an active function that would
enable me to know where the phone IS in real-time, rather
than passive (where it reports where it WAS). For my at-
risk teen, unfortunately.
Wish this weren't necessary
Android phones have this feature.
We're looking for an inexpensive, rollover minutes
pay-as-you-go cel phone plan for our fifth-grader, mainly
for infrequent situations in which we have to communicate
with him about afterschool pick-up, and things like that.
The archives from 2005 list Virgin Mobile as a good plan.
Have things changed in the past six years or is it still a
We got our 6th grader a TracFone and it works fine. They
have reconditioned phones for $20, you buy minutes, use them
up, and buy more. I used to have one b/f I went to full
PDA, it was completely adequate.
We switched from Virgin mobile, which I had used for 5 years
to Boost mobile. We compared the plans and realized we
would save a lot more with Boost given how infrequently we
use our phone. Anon
You might want to try Metro PCS. Unlimited talk & text is
$40/month. Talk/text & email is $50 /month . Texting is
perfect for a teen. No commitment, no contract, but the
phones are not always cheap either. Depending on what you
get, you will pay $30-300. My web surfing is so slow as to
be useless, but email is almost always fine. Check coverage
first too. It's not great in the hills but it's generally
pretty good anywhere near a fwy. Probably good enough for a
My daughter will be 13 in the fall. She is a good student
and has friends. She plays soccer (although is taking a
break to study for her bat mitzvah) reads, and has hobbies
like sewing and other crafts. However, she spends most of
her free time at home texting on her phone or chatting on
the computer. I am wondering what limits other parents set
for these activities. I feel like it's not good for her,
and it seems like a real waste of time to me.
Re texting/ computer - they do have health consequences (2+ hours a
day = carpal tunnel &/or obesity) and social consequences. If you
think it's too much - you're probably right. Kids need facetime
with their friends in the real world more than they need gadgets.
In summer, make sure she has plenty of playtime, sleepovers, and
contact with her buddies - and that she reads some actual books. If
she wants tech time she can earn it by practicing math or other
skills on Khan Academy (it's free, it rocks!).
Give her a maximum amount of tech time per day,
make it a reward, not a right
If she can't leave it alone, take it away and regulate its use
send her to a no-gadget camp if you can afford one, just to give
her a break and see the possibilities.
- plugged in to real life
I worry about this too.
I am the mother who walks around campus showing the kids how to
hold their phone on a flat palm and text with a flat relaxed
''paw''. Because of computer work, I had to give up piano...
Tell her this:
The people that came up with texting have ZERO regard for your
forming body. Your hands and tendons are going to give out and
therapy will be very expensive.
It is only a matter of time before someone is held acountable and
the medium will be replaced. In the meantime, because I love you,
I am limiting your texting to 500 a month, anything over that I
will have to charge you for.
Texting is finite, but those living in the 2010 to 2020 era will
suffer. There is no doubt about it.
Your concern is real, and we really need to talk about this
subject, sooner than later.
We gave our kids pay-as-you-go cell phones (T-Mobile) that they
have to pay for out of their allowance. Our daughter told her
friends: no worthless texts like ''whassup?'' since they cost her
money. She still sends text messages, but doesn't spend that much
time on it.
We limit our teenagers during the school year to 45 minutes of
''media'' and eMail time. That includes: eMail, TV, video games,
On weekends and in the summer then get another 30 minutes each day.
We've been enforcing ''media'' time rules from day one, so although
there is some pushback (and cheating when we are out of the house),
we stay firm.
As a result they read more and do other things.
The other rule is no Facebook page until they are 18.
--Media limits are good
Since HS our rule has been, facebook only 1 night during the
week(after all homework) is done; we picked the night because
school the next day starts 1/2 later in the morning. Also, FB on
weekends. With the texting/chatting-- the phone gets put on the
counter in the kitchen once she comes home. The phone is out of
earshot and we have for years, told our teen no one should call on
the cell at night(or afternoon), they can reach you on the home
line. We've had to tweek it and sometimes people do call, but
unless it's abusive(and repetitive and l---ong conversations) we
generally don't say much. She is going to be a senior and frankly,
most of her friends have too much homework, sports and
extracurriculars like debate to be hanging on the phone or chatting
alot. With a boyfriend everything changes...so this has worked b/c
our teen did not have a BF.
How are you handling the texting (which is done through
iTouch and so it's free)? We are taking the iTouch away
for a few days to reinforce the importance of old-
fashioned human interactions (= talking in grammatically-
correct English without the aid of a handheld device).
However, we keep thinking there must be other things wise
parents are doing to keep texting under control. Aside
from smashing the evil iTouch, what else can we do?
You can do a lot about the texting. Check to see if AT&T has some sort
of parental controls on their iPhones that limits when/how they are
We got our kids T-Mobile pay-as-you-go phones. They have a budget for
the year and if they go over, their phones won't work. If they have
money left over, it's theirs. With pay-as-you-go, your credit card is
not hooked up to the phone so they can't go wild.
So far it is working great. Our daughter texts her friends
occasionally but since she is paying for incoming texts (5 cents), she
told her friends immediately: ''No nonsense texting''. We were very
Our son has only sent a few texts. He mostly communicates by eMail
which is no extra cost with our Internet service.
Parent of Teens
My son, a sophomore in high school, is desirous of an iPhone--the
new iPhone4--to the point where he is willing to buy the phone
itself out of money he's saved. The plan cost is no more than what
we're currently paying for plain cell phones (a family plan). My
concern is that an iPhone seems on the extravagant side. Do many
Bay Area teenagers have iPhones? Or is that excessive?
i think if your teen wants to by an ipod with his own money, why
not? throughout my son's life we refused to purchase things that we
didn't value (xbox, computer games, gi joe's, etc.) he saved and
saved to purchase them himself, but still had to convince us it was
ok to have in the home(for example, gi joe was a compromise--he
could buy but had to toss the weapons, or donate to a sand-tray
therapist.) who knows if it was right or not, but it kept me from
buying things i didn't believe in and led to him feeling proud that
he could ''buy things for himself'' and at the end of the day, he
turned out fairly unmaterialistic.
We let our 16 year old son buy an iPhone 4 with his own money with
these conditions: he had to sign up for a 2 year contract so that the
phone price was discounted ($199) and he had to pay for the mandatory
monthly data plan ($25) out of his allowance.
Our teenager twins would love an iPhone, but we got them pre-paid T-
Mobile phones. If you buy $100 worth of minutes/texts, the money
rolls over as long as you buy more minutes within a year.
It teaches them budgeting. They have to use their allowance to
refill their minutes. It led our daughter to tell her friends: ''no
nonsense text messages''. :)
I'm not going to hook up my credit card to a phone used by a
teenager. Especially one with a data plan.
Parent of teens
I'd like to get a cell phone for my 12 year-old daughter
that will allow her to do what 12 year-olds need to do
socially safely and at a reasonable cost. I am currently
with AT&T out of contract. Advice much appreciated.
Two words - ''Go Phone''. A pay-as-you-go cell phone allows the student
to monitor phone costs and usage so he/she learns to meter
conversations and texts. The phones are available at Frys, Best Buy,
Radio Shack, etc and the refill cards can be picked up practically
anywhere a store sells store cards.
The costs - upfront is the cell phone, with ongoing costs usually in
the 20cents/min range for a call/text. But the student can purchase
message packages (like 200 messages for $4.99 for 30 days). Rates vary
according to provider, so check around. One carries a balance and uses
up the balance as needed.
I got my kids cellphones with keyboards at this age (it's worth it)
and we text all the time. It has saved us a lot of aggravation when
I've been stuck in traffic or my kids plans changed. And we know
exactly what we're spending at any time, so it provides immediate
feedback on usage and trains the student to use the phone wisely.
Finally, in an age of bullying, texting addiction and other ills,
please remember that pay-as-you-go accounts can be setup/canceled and
numbers changed very easily - unlike billed accounts. And the
liability is limited to the balance amount (like $15), so you won't
get a $500 Internet cellphone bill or weird ''purchases'' to your phone.
But get a phone with a keyboard. You will be amazed how often you text
your kids for status - and how frequently they actually tell you. :-)
We have AT&T too, and we added on our daughter to the family plan for
just $9.99, and got her a basic phone that was a freebie. AT&T has a
parent control option (its extra, not sure how much), so we can set
time limits, text limits, etc. We really like it, as it keeps her
phone use under control. Other parents have also said they have rules
such as having them turn their phones in every night to a parent -
depending on bed times. We did not put this into place, and I
regretted it later, but was able to enforce it with the parent
controls this year. Make sure you enforce all rules at the start, as
it is very hard to add rules later and have them listen.
Hope this helps. Good Luck!
We use the family plan from AT&T - I think it is an extra $20 per
month all together with the phone line and the messaging. We pay for
unlimited texting because I have asked my daughter to text rather than
call so that the phone is not near her head - it works well and after
the first year of fun with the phone she is really only using it in
I check my teen's phone every once in a while. He is 16. I noticed
that there were compromising pictures of himself on the picture mail
on-line account. I of course, deleted them. How should I handle
this. I have talked to him about this subject monts before to give
him knowledge of what is going around. He said he would never do
anything like that. But, as I stated above, I noticed pictures when
i checked his phone. Now, he needs his phone for sport practice
messages and for us to get a hold of him etc. I have been mulling
around what to do. I plan on confronting him and taking his phone
away for a week in the evenings and weekends and tell him that I will
check all his incoming text messages (if he gets any) when I have the
phone in my possession. I really hate taking things away or
punishing this way. And I don't know if he has sent pictures of
himself to anyone. Can anyone give me ideas how to handle this?
Sometimes punishment makes them just NOT CARE anymore. I really want
him to want NOT to do this stuff.
The simplest solution would to give him a cell phone without eMail
or texting. Phone calls only. Jitterbug is one type. I don't have
one, so I can't specifically recommend that phone.
But the underlying problem is more complicated. He needs to
understand that his behavior is unacceptable. The only way is by
serious consequences which means taking away privileges.
I would take away his cell phone (too bad about sports) completely.
And I would take away eMail privileges except school related with
you monitoring all messages.
I recommend "Teen Proofing" by John Rosemond for strategies about
how to deal with teens.
Parent of teenagers
I am wondering how other Berkeley parents are responding to the latest info coming out
about cell phones. Are other parents concerned? An old Berkeley friend of mine has been
doing research and going to international conferences on cell phone dangers and he says
teens (and kids) are the most vulnerable. I find this stuff daunting and would like to hear
the reactions of other parents. Here are some of the things he has found in his research
that concern me:
*Your head absorbs 10,000 times the radiation from your cell phone if held to your ear
(or kept under your pillow waiting for a text message) than if you use a corded headset.
*Multiple studies show lower sperm counts and higher rates of testicular cancer on the
same side as where the cell phone is carried in men's pockets.
*Scientists warn that young people who start using cell phones before age 20 are 5 times
more likely to develop a brain tumor by the time they reach age 30.
*The majority of studies on cell phones have been funded by the cell phone companies
and the scientists who found adverse effects had their funding stopped.
*Every cell phone study has found an increased risk of brain tumors with more than 10
years of cell phone use and the tumors are on the same side of the head where the phone
*France, Israel and the European Environment Agency have taken steps to restrict the use
of cell phones by children.
*Maine Representative Andrea Boland is introducing a bill that would require all cell
phones sold in Maine to carry a warning label, advising children and pregnant women to
keep the device away from their heads and bodies.
I find this information quite upsetting and have just recently begun to read about it in the
news but haven't heard much discussion about it. What do other parents think about this
research and how is it influencing the way you are dealing with your teen and their cell
Yes - it does bother me and it is scary. My children both have cell phones but they
primarily for texting which lets us communicate without them having the phone next to
Cell phones are extremely dangerous. A number of studies have shown that drivers and
pedestrians are distracted when on the phone, even by no-hands models. The number
dead from driving while distracted, or walking into cars while distracted, appears to
However, a cancer link to cell phone radiation has never been shown based on
studies and epidemological data. For example, most Americans use cell phones,
young Americans. Yet brain cancer incidence declined in the US since the late 1980s
The physics of cell phone radiation is clearer than the causes of brain cancer.
only one Nobel Prize, on the mechanism for ionizing radiation, the photoelectric
Robert Cahn of Lawrence Berkeley Lab wrote an article a decade ago on the connection
between Einstein's work and cell phone radiation (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2000/08/30/ED16179.DTL). Sometimes people assume the science
has moved on, but if Einstein's only work leading to a Nobel Prize turns out to be
will make the front page. For more than a day.
So I hope those of you who have been worried about cell phone radiation take solace,
also take the cell phone away from people who need to be concentrating!
Check out this article, which describes a study done by the Florida Alzheimer's Disease
Research Center, and published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. The study concerned
the effects of electromagnetic radiation from cell phones in mice. Most of the article
on the risk of Alzheimer's disease but it does touch on current research on the risk of brain
tumors from cell phone use.
Also concerned but not convinced
I was saddened to see the posting that unequivocally told all of you
that you can take solace that cell phone use is safe for you and
your children. THERE IS NOTHING FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.
My husband has a malignant glioma (seizure and dx same week as Ted
Kennedy). We have signed doumentation by drs and scientists
worldwide that his glioma is attributable to his 20 years of cell
phone use held to the right ear- tumor is in right frontal lobe. I
tesitifed to Congress at their request, attend all international
conferences, have been on the Dr. Oz show and the source of much
media coverage. I have a list of hundreds of others with gliomas
from their cell use.
ALL STUDIES, even industry funded, show a significantly increased
risk of brain cancer if one uses a cell phone (held to their head)
for more than 10 yrs. less than an hr. a day. There is a 420%
increased risk if one began using one before age 20. NO SOLACE IN
THAT. We do not need to abandon this technology - just take
precautions. For the precautions and for information on studies and
to learn about my involvement with legislation in San Francisco and
Maine and soon our federal government please call me at 925-285-5437
or email me at email@example.com. I will send you information that
affirms the above. My colleagues just had me write the Briefing Book
on this issue for the legislators. I know what I am talking about
and I pray that you will be open to precautions. Our young people
are texting more but they are sleeping with them ''on'' near their
heads. There are many health risks involved, not to mention
addiction. I know many in their 30's and 40's that have already died
from this - it is so sad. Had there been warnings this need not have
I have no self interest here - my goal is to educate people ao
others do not suffer as my family has- my collegaues and I have
started a program called WISE (wireless information and safety
education)which is being employed nationwide. This refers to
cell ''masts'' also.
I have personally founded the California Brain Tumor Association.
Brain tumors, no matter what the cause, are an insidious disease.
The information offered in the other post is outdated and I am happy
to share newer information with you.
Thank you for listening and for being open minded. Our children
deserve to know the possibilities and to make healthy choices.
This is a preventable health catastrophe.
My daughter just started middle school and I'm thinking of getting her a
phone. We don't want anything fancy, it doesn't need a camera, email,
text, etc. Just something that can help us keep track of each other as she
goes from school to practice to home. I do want a phone with GPS and a pay
by use plan. Does anyone have experience with Kajeet (or another kid phone
company)? It's seems like a good idea, however consumer reports are mixed.
I'd love to hear about any other plans that you have found useful for your
child. Thanks in advance!
Getting a cell phone for my son was a great move. It is soooo much easier to
keep track of him. In Middle School he started scheduling his own ''play
dates'' plus all his other myriad activities. We have a Verizon Family Plan. I
gave him a number of minutes he was allowed to use per month, explaining that
my bill would go up alot if he went over and he would have to pay it out of
his savings. Texting, 900 numbers, etc. are turned off. So far, he has had his
phone for about 3 years (now going into 8th grade) and is very responsible. We
did take out an insurance plan and twice during the 2 year plan it got washed
(once his fault, once mine). Maybe more of a problem with boys as he carries
it in a jeans pocket. He has an i-phone now that he paid for himself. Before
that he had a more basic phone but it could take pictures, and for teens, I
think that is a fun and usually innocuous option.
For the last year, my 14 year old daughter has been sending
about an average of 5,000 text messages a month. One month
it was as high as 9,000 (yes, nine thousand!).
Currently her texting is limited to hours we define,
generally 3-9pm. Of course that doesn't eliminate her
friends from texting her during other times. She pays for
unlimited texting on the phone herself ($20/month). She only
uses about 400 minutes per month to talk on the phone. The
majority of her communication is done via texting. And, if
you haven't already guessed it, the majority of her texting
lately is with a boy. IT is nearing what I would call
obsessive levels. She disagrees of course.
I'm worried about it for several reasons but none of them
make sense to my daughter. I worry about the obsessive
nature. I worry that it is interfering with other parts of
her life. Although she gets straight A's in school. The
whole thing is just now what I'm used to...it feels like new
territory and I'm unsure how to handle it.
Do other parent's of teens have restrictions and concerns
around text messaging? I'd love to hear them.
Two words - Go Phone! Don't give teens a cellphone with a billed plan.
Go Phone (AT&T) and Virgin Mobile are 20 cents per text and have
varying call rates and plans. Your teen just buys a card at the store
and stocks up that amount, and he/she can watch that amount go down
with each text message and call. When it's run out of money, no more
texts until they refill the kitty. Make sure your teen pays for the
calls out of his/her own account (they can ask relatives for phone
cards instead of cash - many grandmas like this, because then they
have to call her).
We started with Virgin Mobile Marbls (I have two light used ones with
chargers if anyone would like to buy them - http://lynne.telemuse.net
to contact). The kids quickly outgrew these so we picked up a couple
of used Treo 650s (they have keyboards) and switched them to AT&T
(just get a SIM at the AT&T or Parrot store - unless it's locked to
another plan you should not have to pay anything for the SIM). They
tend to buy the 200 messages (exp 30 days) plans for $5 (that's much
cheaper than most plans).
Even though my son's now at UCLA, he still uses a Go Phone, charged to
his credit card. When it starts going too fast, he really cuts back.
My daughter also handles her own phone. Prepaid cell phone plans are
offering more options all the time according to the New York Times
saves a lot of ''got the bill and it's huge'' arguments, teaches fiscal
and social responsibility (5000 text messages are a cause for concern
- why isn't she/he *talking* to friends or using facebook?). And you
can buy trendy phones and just pop in a SIM.
You're right that it's new territory; my son texts as if he is
carrying on a conversation with the person, just batting texts back
and forth. Problem is, the person isn't present, and often others
are, or homework is waiting, or there are dishes to be cleared away,
or guitar to be practiced... and nothing is accomplished but texting,
which also shuts off others around him. If you're on AT&T, see about
the Smart Parent Controls. You can control the hours when texting
takes place (I highly recommend taking away the phone at night,
because even when texting was turned off, phone calls could still come
in). And you can control the number of texts per month -- once your
child runs out, that's it. Finally, you can block numbers. My word
to my son was: if texting with x-person does not diminish
substantially in the next few days, that number will be blocked. I
don't forbid texting entirely, because it is the new phone call and it
is new territory. But old rules like consideration for others and
attention to other things (like life) still apply. I would pay the
nominal amount for parent controls and have a talk with your teen
mother of another texter
This is an area of obviously much concern! At our house I had noticed
it more when there was a courtship going on, then it waned a bit.
It's fun cause it's private. I get that.
SOMETHING THAT REALLY WORKED FOR ME. I sat my kids down (15, 17, 19
yr olds) and told them, ''Texting is a new fad, and it will pass as we
move into brighter technology, but those that put this tool in our
hands are not THINKING about our hands. Holding a device in your
fingers perpindicularly (sp?) and having your thumbs race across a
keyboard is DANGEROUS to the mechanics of the hand and should be VERY
limited. Tendonitis, carpal tunnel, RSD, is at it's all time high
right now, because of inadequate track balls, work at computers, and
TEXTING. I frequently massage the kids hands and remind them OVER AND
OVER, these tools we call hands are precious, limit their use to
learning and music (and your laundry!) We know not what the future
holds for you and pain if you continue to abuse them with a fad. Just
cause it's available does not mean it's safe!
I really think we throw the Good Manners/ Obey me cause it's
inappropriate/ not during dinner/ your grades, damn it approach out
the window and put their active brains on a better reason to limit....
Their precious bodies. What do you think?
Hi, my 9th grade daughter appears to be seriously addicted
to texting, she walks room to room texting, takes it into
the bathroom, does it during our conversations, and we fight
about it during dinner as she hides it on her lap. She can
text without looking so she does it as we converse and I do
not know. Her grades are not that good and yesterday we
fought so much about it. It is complicated in that she has
divorced parents and my ex pays for the phone -free texting
and will not limit it. My daughter is 50 50 in each home.
My idea is it must be drastically limited. I went on line
under text addiction and they said it is a new compulsive
behavior and to reward the positive not just limit it. What
do you recommend?
My son was being bombarded by texts from a certain girl at
the rate of 20 an hour at times; it drove me bananas and
forced me to pay for unlimited texting because we were
being charged for her obsessive texts! He was not all
that happy about the incessant texting either, and I did
speak to her parents, but to no avail. I required that
the phone be turned off at home, period. I know that's
draconian, and I would offer an exception if he really
needed to reach someone with a question or information,
but then the phone had to go off again. At first he
complained, but now he is actually relieved. I think that
drastic measures need to be taken -- if she objects, just
take the phone away (I did that, too, and we all
survived). I am a divorced parent with 50/50 custody and
understand what happens when divorced parents disagree,
but I think it might be easier to get your ex on your side
if you show him a record of the literally thousands of
texts she is sending when she should be doing homework,
talking to her family, helping around the house, etc etc
Her life is being taken over by this obsession, and it is
usually completely trivial communication, which can turn
into harrassment of the receiver. Having been on the
receiving end of this merciless bombardment, I strongly
recommend you take drastic measures. And good luck!
Convince your daughter that she will be getting a life
I too have this issue. I have tried taking the phone at night espeially and
putting it to charge in another room = she just gets on face book but at least
the text is off
I have paid for smart limits (i phone) and this works to a point
I have linked it with a reward
i have thought about taking it away completely or stop paying for the line
altogether and perhaps this might be the best way = simply present the bill
for them to pay or risk losing the phone or agree to a reasonalbe text time
but of course all this from a mom who sometimes can't stop emailing or
looking at these boards and responding!!!! ha ha that is meant to be a sense
of humor - after all this is now the kids way of talking but at what cost? they
can't hear the sincerity in anyones voice or other emotion and isn't that what
having friends is about?
Whew! I hear your pain! I just went through that with my
daughter. She racked up over 8000 messages in a month! I
just shut it off because she wasn't respecting the rules I
set, those being not to do it during school. I'm single and
was paying for it myself so didn't have to negotiate it with
anyone else (one of the pleasures of being a single parent,
I might add...)
Maybe if you talk to your ex about it in that way he might
She had a few days of being really angry at me and not
talking to me, but then it was fine. I think she actually
appreciated it because it was so time-consuming and feeding
her OCD symptoms! She sometimes says she wants it back, but
I just say ''no,'' now, ''I can't afford it.''
Just take the phone away. If you can't get buy in with your
ex, then take it away at your house. You can let her have
when she leaves the house and she needs to turn it in when
she comes home. Constant texting is rude, distracting, and
-- yes -- addictive.
I cannot tell you the number of problems we had with text
messaging. We finally took it away for over a year.
You do need to assert your right to set limits, even take it
away. We took it away because it was interfering with
everything, including grades.
It does hamper them socially because they do not speak
live--they only email or text--but I really didn't care.
If you chose to let her have it still, set limits such as
confiscating the phone during homework times, meal times and
before bed---they love to take their phones to bed and text
instead of sleeping. You can say the truth: we want to eat
without the interruption and your need to concentrate on
schoolwork without disruptions.
There's nothing wrong with her---it is a very addictive
medium, particularly to teenagers who are notorious for
their lack of impulse control.
But it is up to the parents to set and enforce limits.
She'll probably tell you she's the only one, etc., but don't
worry about that.
You should set the rules for your house and your ex can
set the rules for his house. Set rules for what seems
appropriate--and enforce consistently. For example, cell
phone must sit openly visible on the table or on fireplace
mantel (or other visible location that's out of reach)
when you and she are talking, during dinner, during
homework time, etc. The only way to enforce this rule is
to have the cell phone in an open location where you can
see that she isn't using it. Set consequences if she
breaks the rule and enforce them.
If her grades are suffering, then that has to be part of
it--no texting until homework is done. Also, have a
conversation with your ex about what he thinks will work
to help her improve her grades. See if he can review her
homework, etc. when she's there.
She will soon adjust. If you follow this plan, you will
know that her texting is controlled at least half of the
time and that may be the best that you can do.
If you have AT&T (and maybe other companies) you can pay a
small amount per month to have control over the calls. You
can set your childs phone so that text messaging and phone
calls are off for certain hours of the day, or you can
block calls so that you don't have to accept phone calls
of texts from certain numbers. You also can set it so that
even during these down times, they can always call or text
you so there is no excuse for not calling home!
Found a solution that works for us!
Interested in finding out how others control/set limits on
cell phone usage for first yr middle school student.
Daughter was thrilled to receive a few months ago and went
way over on usage; therefore, costing a huge amount for the
last month. We all needed to learn what was truly free and
what actions would cost... We would like to have the cell
used for voice calls/emergencies, picture taking, and
limited texting (this is the problem area along w/
wallpapers and other apparently ''free'' items). Most
importantly, we want ''screen'' time to be limited and the
plan to be economical.
Well, that cell phone is privilege, one that must be used responsibly. One of
my 15 year old daughter's friends just went $400 over the text messaging
limit on her cell phone! Her parents yelled at her and then did nothing. Not
me! My daughter knows that she will have to pay for cell time that is over her
limit for calls and text messages. If my daughter had gone over her text
messaging limit by $400, she would owe me $400, which she would pay off,
by not having an allowance for a painfully long time (and by earning that
I suggest that you sit down with your young pre-teen and set some rules and
consequences, up front. She should know the number of text messages she is
allowed each month and the consequence for going over that limit (as in
paying for it). Will your daughter be allowed to use her phone at school? Most
schools do not allow it. Like the computer, My Space, Facebook, etc, cell
phones can be fun and needs some limits! In my house, my teen's usage
during the week is limited by homework, as she is not allowed to talk on the
phone and do homework. Set a time limit with your daughter and stick to it.
Consequences for not abiding by the limit can mean losing her phone for a
day. Then finally, you might want to talk about consequences for losing that
phone and not answering it when you call (most annoying). Make sure your
pre-teen knows that cell phones are stolen from schools. If she ever loses it
or it is stolen, your daughter must know to tell you right away. Otherwise, you
will be liable for big bucks!
We got our daughter a Tracfone--one of those pay-as-you-go type cell phones
that you load with minutes. She paid for the phone and she pays for most of the
minutes. We pay about $20 every 4-6 weeks toward minutes. Since she has to
pay for it, she is very careful about the minutes and the phone gives you a
running tally of how many minutes you have left. An added bonus is when she
loses the phone, it's no big deal, she can save up her own money and buy
another one--they're as cheap as $15.
I'm thinking of getting my son a cellular phone. Right now
he doesn't talk on the phone very much, but I anticipate
that he will start sending and receiving text messages like
many teens. My (extremely limited) understanding of text
messaging is that there is a per-message cost for them.
Are there cellular phone plans where the text messages
are free, or included in plan minutes? Any advice for
not bankrupting the family when/if our son gets a cellular
We have a family plan on Verizon. Our daughter gets 250
text messages (includes outgoing AND incoming) for $5 per
month. Our agreement is, if she goes over the 250, she has
to pay the additional charge (I think it's 10 cents per
message). Works out well!
I searched the archives and now need advice re. cell phones
- what age did your child first get one and what rules did
you set up? We would resist but our 12 year old will be in
increasingly more situations, albeit for a very short time,
where she may not have access to a phone or adult/friend
with a phone. It's time but we're conflicted over how to
handle it. Thanks in advance for the MANY posts I'm sure
this will get.
I hope a lot of people answer because I am thinking about
getting one for my son when he starts middle school. I know
there will be times when I want to reach him and vice versa
but haven't investigated the family plans and thought
through the rules yet.
they grow up so fast
We gave our daughter a cell phone in 7th or 8th grade. Our
son got his in 5th. She protested, of course. There are 2
items to consider. What type of plan you have dictates how
the phone is used. How many minutes do you have? Are some
calls free? Is there a family plan? How much do text
messages cost? The second question is whether the child is
responsible enough to have a phone? Our son had his phone
put through the washing machine 3 times!! Finally the
phone would not work and he learned to clear his pockets
before putting his clothes in the dirty clothes pile.
Our 12 year old son wanted one in the worst way. He
claimed to be the ''only'' student in his class without one.
He felt left out. This went on for a few months. Finally,
we relented. But here were our reasons: (1) We waited
until Christmas to make it a present. (2) After the
rebate, the phone only cost us $10, and it was only $10
per month to add him on to the family plan. Plus we have
tons of rollover minutes. (3) Most importantly, he is
starting to hang out with friends away from home by a park
or schoolyard, but not too far. He was borrowing someone
else's phone to check in with us. (4) We set down specific
rules about usage, and he knows if he loses it, he will
have to pay to replace it. So far, 3 weeks into it, it's
working out well.
I'm a little late on this... My daughter got a phone in 7th grade. She
has gone through about three already (she's now in 10th) because of
''accidents''. I highly recommend getting the insurance for your son's phone, it's about $3 a
month, but worth it if he's ''accident'' prone. Another handy tip: I am with Cingular and they
can block in and outgoing text messaging and outgoing web access!! This has saved us thousands
of dollars!! There is no need
for text messaging except for communicating with friends during classtime!
I'm not sure if every cell phone company does this but you need to ask,
obviously, they will be losing money. Also, if you do need to get a
replacement phone, they sell refurbished phones online that work just
as well as a brand new one, you just have to make sure it works with your plan.
Clearly replacing the phone has been one of my biggest issues. (why
don't they make them with a thick rubber coating so they bounce when
dropped?) The other is her turning it on loud and answering it! She tends to keep it on silent
which is okay for during school, but then doesn't turn it back
on until I'm red in the face! So, I sound like a broken record (CD?) when I
keep reminding her to turn her phone on loud after school so I can get in
touch with her if I need to. The whole cell phone experience has been
frustrating, but also nice to be able to talk when she is out. She has actually used it in an
emergency once and I was thankful that she had it.
Oh, get lots of minutes, they get used up pretty quickly.
mom of cell phone-using-teen
Both of my kids got cell phones when they entered middle
school and started going places on their own. Both kids
bike to school, etc, and we wanted them to have a way to
reach us. They didn't ask us for the phones, we insisted
they have them. We added them to our family plan for a
nominal cost. The message to the kids was that the phone
was to communicate their whereabouts, changes in plans,
reach us in an emergency, make plans. It's been 4 years
since the oldest got his first phone and we haven't had
any problems. The phones are used as we've asked and the
text message charges and minutes have been within the
plan. We check the monthly statements to see how much
they are using their phones. Both kids have been
responsible about taking care of their phones. When my
11yr old had a bike accident involving a car, it was a
relief that he was able to reach us immediately. That
said, we aren't really a family of phone chatters, so
their cell phone usage may also reflect the behavior we as
not a problem
A previous posting about Metro PCS received no responses, so I
thought I'd try again. We need to buy a phone for our teenage
daughter, primarily for safety concerns, but being a teenager
she will burn up minutes that we don't want to pay extra for.
We just need to know that when she needs to call us to pick her
up, she will be able to reach us. We live in Oakland, so
coverage here and in Berkeley are of primary concern, but we
would prefer good coverage in the greater Bay Area. Has anyone
used this plan?
For myself, I also want to replace my current plan with Cingular
($20.00 per month for 30 minutes) for one of the pay as you go
plans. I am considering Tracfone, Virgin, and Boost Mobile; my
question is which plan has the best coverage area? Since I use
mine for roadside breakdowns and family emergencies, I really
need the few calls I make to go through.
I've had Tracfone for more than 2 years now, and am *very*
pleased with the coverage. From what I understand, they
piggy-back on other service, and seem to pick the strongest
signal etc. I've used mine from Monterey to Washington State with
no problems whatsoever. Just be sure to point out that she'll
burn up minutes on incoming as well as outgoing calls...! I use
my phone maybe 15 mins. a month and it's worth it for that (just
signed up for 1 year/350 mins again). But if she's going to use a
lot of minutes/month... I wonder if this is the solution for you.
You can peruse the Tracfone website (IE only, bleah) to see the
rates. If you want me to refer you, we both get 100 free minutes.
I live in Berkeley and use Virgin and it has been perfect.
Service is fine. I greatly appreciate the pay ahead and pay
only for what you use aspect. I only use it rarely, but have
used it in Hawaii actually. I think you said that you live in
Oakland so I would get some input from Oakland people as to
Virgin reception - but my experiences have been absolutely fine.
What are reasonable phone times for a teenager? His choice would
be to have a phone line open to someone at all times. I understand
that he needs to have SOME time for phone contact (or even real
communication), but what is reasonable for both school nights and
weekends. The rest of us ought to be able to get a call into our
This is an eternal problem in all families, it seems. I have tried
limiting calls to certain hours -- say between 8 and 9 PM (wouldn't
*that* be great?) Nothing has been particularly successful in my
household; all curbing of this problem seems to involve monitoring on
the parents' part. I have chosen not to provide my daughter with her
own phone because (aside from the extra expense, which I can do
without) that just gives her unlimited telephoning freedom and I don't
see that as a solution to the problem. She does use the cordless
phone in her room and when that gets out of hand, I disconnect it by
taking the handset to the office for a while. This works quite well
since under those circumstances her privacy is reduced. Placing a
"phone restriction" is sometimes helpful but again implies that I
monitor it. During phone restriction she is not allowed to talk on
the phone at all. If this rule is violated, I take away a privilege,
like TV watching or getting together with her friends.
My daughter is alone three hours after school. After her 1 chore
(one for each day of the week-listed on calendar) and homework is done
she can talk on the phone until bedtime. I am not a phone person nor
do I get calls. This didn't work. Grades went down, etc.. I now
take the phone with me to work. If there is a problem she can go to 3
neighbors. Callers have complained that I must have "daughters"
because the phone is always busy. My daughter's solution is to pay for
call waiting. Not! She needs to spend more time studying. I have
also limited her calls to 30 min. with 1 hour wait between calls. I
let the answer machine pick up the call. We need more family time
together and I am working hard at it. The phone is a barrier.
My 12-year-old daughter just started getting together with girl
friends and calling boys. I have major problems with this -- what do
you think? What limits have you placed on your kids?
I feel it is imperative for this mother to realize that socializing with
her peer group is so much more important than almost anything else in
her life. Do not consider this a major problem (a major problem is
teenage pregnancy, getting into drugs and alcohol, stealing and hanging
out on the streets all the time with nothing to do but hang out).
Perhaps the major problem here is the parent's fear, understandably, of
what "getting together with girlfriends and calling boys" can lead to,
but fear is what I live and breathe as a parent of a child growing up
these days, and these are my fears, not my child's. Their only wish is
to grow up and be a part of something. More importantly, it is necessary
for parents with teenagers to set aside their fears and translate those
fears into positive experiences, like offering to take your daughter and
her girlfriends on a shopping trip, or to the movies, or to Great
America, where you are there as the backdrop, and you just live and
breathe and listen to what's going on with your daughter and her
friends. Sharing these experiences with you as chauffeur and chaperone
may well open up communication with your daughter so you'll learn who
her friends are (they are just as nice and wonderful as she is, no
doubt), and just ask casually what boys she's calling and find out who
these friends, boys and girls, are. Make a point, without embarrassing
her, to see for yourself who her friends are and some of your worries
may go away. What follows, of course, are other issues when and if her
social life begins to liven up. Believe me, I'm very sympathetic to the
underlying fear this mother has (my daughter is now 16). --jahlee (6/99)
Exactly what part of this do you have problems with? That they are
talking with boys? That they are on the phone? It seems like a harmless
activity - I think you need to figure out what your fears are - maybe
what this can lead to in the future? - and then figure out just exactly
what you want the limits to be.
My daughter did this for a while and believe me it's pretty innocent.
They can't catch anything nor get hurt over the phone. They generally
don't have places to hang out together anymore (like down at the corner
soda fountain), this is the next best thing. (June 1999)
Regarding the 12 year old calling boys---I remember being 12 and getting
together with my girlfriend. We actually tried to call Davey Jones (of
the Monkeys) by calling New York directory assistance for his number!
Also, my 15 year old son has periodically gotten calls from girls since
he was about 12. Having (yet) no interest he makes it pretty clear,
pretty quickly to the girls calling him. I think the ones that are
interested enjoy the conversations! As long as the calls don't
interfere with other daily activities (school, household contributions)
I think it's a pretty normal, fun way to socialize.
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