The Last Girl on Earth Without a Cell Phone

My preteen daughter, 10 years old, going into 6th grade this September, frequently claims to be the last girl on earth without a cell phone.  This comment is generally met by a slightly sarcastic remark from me, such as  “You poor deprived child” or “That’s because it’s my goal in life to make you miserable” or “I’m sure you’re not the ONLY girl without a cell phone”.  Sometimes I even roll my eyes (and then I wonder where she gets that annoying little habit!)  She’s been bugging me for a couple of years to get her a phone, but lately this has intensified.  She claims I am overprotective.  Sometimes she declares I am the meanest mom ever.   But I do have my reasons.

She rarely uses the house phone- if she’s not calling people from home, who’s she going to call from her cell phone?  We have a rule- she can get a cell phone when she enters junior high in a year, or if we feel she needs one before then (if I’m dropping her off for long stretches at one of her activities- not the case right now) and in that case the phone would be for MY convenience and peace of mind- so that I can reach her when she’s away from me.  Which right now is hardly ever.  And texting is out.

My daughter’s two closest friends have phones, but I thought that was more the exception rather than the rule, and one of those girls has already had a “situation” with texting, where she was the victim of some bullying.  I feel my daughter is too young and immature to handle something like that.

So wasn’t I surprised, then, to find that in our Girl Scout troop, she is one of only 2 girls who do not have cell phones!  And of the 8 who do, 7 have unlimited texting (and the other one hates her phone for not having it and doesn’t understand why her mother won’t allow it!)  One girl is actually on her second phone already.  All this talk just gave my kid more fuel for the fire.

Am I really that far behind the times?  Do I cave to “peer pressure” from the girl scout group of parents and get my kid a phone?  Does a not-quite-11 year old girl really need a phone, and if so, WHY?

I’d love to hear from other moms.  Am I overprotective?  Mean?  Are you a mean mom, too?

32 Responses

  1. I am terrified of the day I have a kid in his or her teens. I just don’t feel like middle schoolers should have cell phones. My sister got one when she started driving, which makes sense to me, since it isn’t as if someone is taking her places, I got one when I took my car to college, mostly for safety if I broke down on a desolate part of the 5.

    I can’t believe how many parents give kids 10 (and younger!) cell phones, it just doesn’t make sense to me at all.

  2. My daughter is only 8, and she’s already asking for a cell phone. I agree with you, though, that they don’t really need them unless they are in a situation that requires them to be in contact with their parents. People look at me strangely when I tell them that I don’t have text messaging on my phone. To me, that’s just another form of communication that I don’t need to deal with. I don’t know exactly when I’d let my daughter have a cell phone, but I know that it’s definitely years down the road.

  3. My oldest child will be getting a cell phone before school starts; because he will be either walking or riding his bike to middle school (no bus service). So it will be for our peace of mind. We’ll wait until our daughter starts middle school to do the same for her; she would love to have a cell phone NOW, though!

  4. I agree. I dread being in your situation. My eldest is 6 and I have ZERO interest in seeing her have one before she’s driving. I am anxious to hear how others respond and how they’ve dealt with this.

    I have to admit it’s the texting that bothers me the most. I know of tweens who stash their phones under their pillows at night so they can talk to friends after hours. What’s up with that? Who’s calling a 12 year old at 10 p.m. at night? Or texting them? CRAZY.

  5. My son is 10 and he has a phone. It was a huge decision to make on our part and it had a lot to do with his extracurricular activities. He does community theatre and has many rehearsals in different locations with different start and end times and there have been times where his pick-up location has changed and there was no way for him to call me to tell me.

    I did research the pre-paid phones but where I live, the signal for those types of phones is iffy.. for $10 a month..we just added him to our plan and he got a basic phone for free.

    Also, we had Verizon disable the text features so there are no surprises there. I have to say, he doesn’t need it too often, but when he needs it, he REALLY needs it so we chose to go with one.

    Down the line if you do, buy the insurance plan because his first phone ended up in the washing machine. I also hate to think about this stuff but way back when those Columbine shootings took place, their phone was their only communication during the crisis. For that..I do it too.

  6. I just deleted a whole long comment. I’ve found that parents (not you, Lisa) don’t like to hear opinions from someone who doesn’t have their own kids. BUT, I think you’re totally right. I’ll be doing the same with my future kids. 🙂

  7. Stick to your guns!

    And maybe show your daughter some pictures of children who struggle for food everyday in other parts of the world, so that she can ammend her claim from last girl on earth to last girl in rich america. 😉

    You’re protecting her. Soon enough she’ll have to be plugged in all the time like the rest of us….you’re a good mom, she just can’t feel that right now. 🙂

  8. I used to make that argument with my mom. I was convinced I was the last girl in the world not to have a cell phone too. I actually got my first cell phone when I was in the middle of eighth grade.


    They pulled the pay phone out of my middle school! Originally I used a calling card my mom bought at Kroger. But since I was heavily involved in after school activities, I needed a way to call my mom to let her know I needed to be picked up. {My teachers wouldn’t allow us to use their phones.}

    Even now, as I start my senior year of high school, I don’t use my cell phone to call my friends. I rarely text them because I use {free!} Facebook instead. And now that I can drive myself, I don’t need to call my mom for a lift.

    Stick to your guns! My mom did too and I think because of that, I’m not nearly as attached to it as my friends.

  9. I have a 16 yo daughter and she does not have a cell phone. Personally, I hate cell phones – but I do have a prepaid “911” phone I keep in the car for emergencies. When my daughter gets her license in 5 months, I’ll get her a 911 phone, but it will be strictly for emergencies.

    Now a days, people are so rude with their cell phones. They yak in the stores, in the movies, in restaurants – everywhere you look, people are disconnected from the people around them because they have phones stuck to their ears.

    Stick to your guns – there is no reason for a 10 yo to have a phone, unless they have to walk to and from school. In that case, they need a 911 phone.

    Of course, this is my humble opinion.

  10. I’m a mean mom, too, and proud of it! Our eldest is 12, and we’re still holding out.

    One day last year she called from the office phone at school to say that the newspaper meeting was cancelled and she would be coming home on the bus (so I wouldn’t cross paths on my way out to pick her up from school after the now-cancelled meeting). That night at dinner she started up again with “everyone else has one” and “I had to stand in a big line to call you, it would have been quicker and easier if I had a cell phone”. Well, she painted herself into a corner with that one — she was standing in line to call because there were other kids without phones who needed to call, too!

    I have given her my phone to use when she’s away from home, or at a long-distance acitivity, but no phone of her own yet. I know the day will come, and it will likely come this school year (7th grade now), but I’m holding off as long as possible, and NO TEXTING!

    Mean mothers rock! (and, Ti, your reasons for getting one for your son are why we’ll get one eventually … when there’s a demonstrated need; not because everyone else has one!

  11. I just got my 12-year-old son his first cell phone, and I did let him get texting (not unlimited) because he uses it more to text than to actually talk on the phone, and I like it that way. He was asking for one for two years, but all the parents in our class agreed that it was best for them to wait to get them after they graduated from 6th grade, before going on to middle school (he’s in private school in los angeles, so middle school starts in 7th). In middle school, they are more independent, and I’d like to keep track of him more, so I want him to have the phone then.

    Also, I have to say, I remember back to my own middle school days when I used to stretch the phone cord around the corner into the powder room so I could talk for what my mother thought was hours with my friends–and I don’t think it’s that different today.

    And by the way, I’m a mean mom, too, in many ways. I limit TV and video games and computer use, and the computer stays in the kitchen where I can see it!

  12. Another mean mom here. My oldest will turn 12 in December, and she’s cell phone-less. She really has no need for one right now. When she goes out bike riding or walks to her friend’s house a couple blocks away, she takes a walkie-talkie. My hubby bought a pair of 7-mile range walkie-talkies when the whole walking to a friend’s house issue came up. She can reach me; I can reach her. That’s all that matters. Not sure when we’ll do the phone thing. She wants one, but she also knows she doesn’t need one, so she doesn’t hassle me about it much.

  13. My son got his cell phone at 13. We did have a couple issues with him subscribing for ‘monthly’ ringtone services, but our provider blocked those for us. Overall, it has allowed me to give him more freedom (he is 15 now), because I can always find him.

    I think it is an individual decision. If it’s not right for your daughter, then put it off for a year or two.

  14. I’m turning 4-0 this (yikes) week, so needless to say, I grew up in an era where NO ONE had cell phones and if someone did, it was the size of a shoe box and quite a novelty. With that said, I have a hard time understanding why kids/pre-teens need cell phones – driving age, yes, I think the phones are good idea – but before then, I don’t see the ‘need’ for a kid to have their own cell phone just for the sake of having one (or because everyone else does).

  15. I agree with Erin’s comment that it is really an individual decision that depends entirely on the maturity of your child and the activities he/she is involved in. I don’t think it is a black and white issue. Getting a cell phone just because everyone else has one is probably not a good reason. But I think nowdays there are a lot of really good reasons for a child to have the ability to immediately contact his/her parents if needed when they are away from home/school. Like television and video games, there can, and should be, parental control & rules for phone usage. Perhaps I’m a bit biased on this topic because I’m one of the GS moms Lisa was writing about … I recently got my 10-yr-old daughter a phone to have while she was away from home at a summer school in Santa Ana from 9 to 5 for a camp. My husband and I talked a long time with her about our expectations, the rules, and guidelines that came along with the new phone. So far she has proven to us that she can be responsible with it. And it was a huge relief to get a text message from her immediately after our last earthquate telling me she was safe (and even joking she thought it was “a fun one”). I had been trying to frantically call her but the cell phone call services were not working – I never thought about texting. In any event, any initial doubts I had about getting her the phone with texting are now gone.

  16. Count me among the ‘mean moms’. Most of my 11 dd’s friends have their own but she does not. I’ve told her when she has an income to pay for it, she can have one. I figure if she’ s responsible enough for that (babysitting, lawn mowing, or not until 16 yr old jobs) then she’ll be able to handle the phone. Course there will be rules on the usage too.

  17. My 11-year-old daughter has a cell phone. I did not buy it for her; her dad did. (He and I are divorced.) At the time I was very upset with her for doing it. Now, I think it’s probably a good thing. She has limits and follows them. She actually does not use the phone very much. She is headed to middle school in the fall. I will have her keep it in her locker (turned off, as per school policy) during the day and have it in her backpack during her bus ride home. Just in case…

  18. All of my boys have cell phones (9/13/18). It all started with overnight sports camps at BIG universities in KS/MO and for overnights at Dads house. But I had to learn how to text because as I have come to realize boys like men do not like to talk on the phone. I think my oldest doesn’t even know how to answer the phone. It keeps me in touch and in the loop. I am the “mean mom” because the rule at my house is as long as I pay for the phone I have control over it. My husband & I set the limits. I think if I had daughters I might feel a little different. It works for me and my boys.

  19. I have a 18 yr. old son. I never bought him a phone till he
    was 17 yr. old. I finally relented when he was going out and I needed to check where he was. Actually I gave him my phone for awhile till I did buy him a phone. Text messaging is dangerous unless you have unlimited text. But he was getting himself in trouble texting while in school. Also one of the other posters was talking about bullying. He sometimes was getting threats from other kids. It would not happen without a phone. Its like passing notes in class. And I assume he was not paying attention in school. Thank goodness this happened at the end of his senior year. I myself what I know now I am glad I did not get him a phone till later. It causes some problems. Also he text’s all night, he is too old for me to discipline him since he is 18. And he needs to find out himself.
    If you plan to get your child I would monitor and set limits.
    Me personally , I think it is more keeping up with the other kids, status symbol, isn’t she cool she has a phone. I would only get a phone if I did not know where my child is.
    Or if you need to be contact let her borrow yours if you are going home. I don’t think a middle school child needs a phone till they are going out with friends at 16, or 17.
    Hope this helps .

  20. Our son is 21 and we didn’t let him have a cell phone until he started driving. We didn’t add texting to his plan until he was in college. We heard all the same stuff about him being the only one without a phone, but he survived somehow. By the way, there were a lot of times when he didn’t answer when I called. When I questioned him about it later, he always said he was driving at the time. Yeah, right.

  21. Cell phones are a tough issue! We held out in our house, and gave our boys cell phones on their bar mitzvah. We played a trick on them, and told them they were only getting one phone, and would have to share it – three days a week for each boy, alternating weekends. They were so pathetically grateful for the phone, we didn’t last 2 minutes before fessing up.
    I hate cell phones, and hate the idea of my boys being spoiled little creeps, but I see how it has broadened their social circle in a good way. Plus, I can keep track of where they are, which is awesome. I think it’s a new world out there, and that’s how kids communicate, and it’s OK. I remember talking to my boyfriend every night in highschool on my parents’ line for 3 hours a shot. Times haven’t changed that much.
    Maybe I’m a big wimp, but I’m OK with cell phones.

  22. I always laugh when I see what looks like a 5 year old walking around with a cell phone and calling his mommy. It just looks ridiculous to me.

  23. yeah, she is wayy to young to have a cell phone. i mean im not a mom in all but my mom wont let me get one until im a freshman in high school becuz she feels thats the time when u need it the most and if in middle school i would jjust take her cell with me. i think that is the best way to go.

  24. I’m planning on being a mean mom, too! My 6 1/2 year old is already asking for one – not even sure why, she doesn’t talk to anyone except myself and my husband. I can see getting one when she’s older, depending on maturity and activities she’ll be involved with as others have mentioned. I’m not looking forward to the texting issue either….I realize I used to spend a lot of time on the phone, but when my mother made me get off of it, that was it, no hidden phone or texting in the privacy of my bedroom. Sigh.

  25. I teach middle school and end up taking a ringing cell phone away from a student about once a month, maybe once every three weeks.

    Texting is God’s gift to students who cheat on tests. It really should just be listed as a selling point in the commercials for cell phones. Cell phones are easy to conceal and easy to operate.

    I did have one set of parents who took their son’s cell phone away when his grades started to drop. His grades went right back up and stayed up, too.

    I like the notion of making kids pay for their phones with babysitting jobs, etc. You would be shocked to see just how much my students get for free from their parents. I teach in a fairly affluent district in Marin County California. A cell phone paid for by a part time job can be a wonderful learning experience for a young person. If they’re paying for the minutes, they’ll be using them wisely.

  26. I agree that children do not need cell phones until they are driving and/or working! My husband and I have been very conservative with our three daughters, ages 6, 11 & 13. My latest dilemma, is that my 13-year-old’s best friend just got an iphone handed to her by her parents. No special reason. Just that she broke her other cell phone, and broke her ipod, so her mom just figured she’d get her off her back by buying her this extravagant item! So now, she brings 24-hour internet access with her when she visits our house. (and I have parental controls on everything around here). It’s just not right!!!!

  27. […] 2nd Highest Non-Book Post (hits and comments): The Last Girl on Earth Without a Cell Phone […]

  28. Hello im an teenage boy of 13 years old not from the U.S but from sweden actually. i didnt get my phone untill now my parents have disabled my texting but they have deon so i can just talk for let me see whats it is in dollar.. around 35dollar every month they just want some sort of connection to me whenj im coming home from school and so on i was just googeling this up. sorry for my english if the gramatic isnt right im just 13 and i dont actually live in a english talking country good night

  29. […]  My daughter turned 11 this week, and we caved and got her a cell phone, so she is no longer the last girl on earth without one, and she’s pretty darn happy about it.  I’m sure the novelty will wear off […]

  30. Here’s a good answer from and 11 year old point of view. How would you feel sitting on a bus riding home and everyone but you pulls out their cell phone to text? I would feel left out and miserable. And yes I do agree that kids may overuse and get into all sorts of things but a cellphone is the late technology. Once something new comes out everyone gets a craving for it. Cell phones and texting at ages under 9 aren’t a good idea. When you text you don’t know the tone of the voice the person is talking in , this can effect friendships. I relate cellphones to smoking. They can become addictive and hard to stop using. They turn you into a new person. You can go from having a social life to just communicating through texts. This is my story I am 11 and I am one of the only girls without a cellphone in my school. Do I mind it, yes! But I can live without one anyday. Of course I want one but it’s just another thing. Cellphones, computers, iPods, and tv what happened to kids having lives?! I know this is a late response but I hope you all read it and understand the point of view from an 11 year old

  31. I’m a 22 year old college student. I don’t use a cellphone because I don’t want to be available for pestering. If it’s an emergency then call 911, otherwise I’ll deal with it in a few days. If you want to keep in touch: try USPS, email, or talking to me, I enjoy the surprise visit from friends at my house.

    It’s not the money issue since you can SMS, email, phone, and browse for the cost of charging a device with a NIC (plus some modded peripherals if it’s not wireless); the problem with this is people get carried away and start cracking WEP & WPA security on people’s wireless, which is a serious security issue since you can start making anonymous mobile calls (XAB works).

    T-mobile is the first large company to integrate this on their plans, so sometimes when you’re talking with people who use T-mobile they’ll say “I’m home, let me call you back.”, because it’s free to use wireless from their house.

    Nearly all cellphones that are charged can call 911 without a SIM chip, so there’s no reason to prepay a phone if you’re only going to give it to your child to call 911.

    Students are texting, surfing, listening to music etc etc in class and not paying attention. If someone jams the majority of cellphone frequencies in class, people suffer from acute stress and anxiety (talk about psycosomatic illness), maybe its because they’re trying to cheat on a test they didn’t study for using the web. People get a lot of text messages right after class for some reason. Moreover people should just be thrown out of class for texting,surfing, and listening to music; this is college and it really gets treated like a joke. If the students didn’t treat their professors like garbage they would prepare a lecture that went above reiterating what was in the book.

  32. i let my kid have a cell phone when he was able to talk and even my dog has one

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