A child's right to a mobile lifestyle
'But everyone else's parents let them ...'
Mums and dads everywhere soon become resigned to hearing what everybody else’s parents allow their children to do.
Consider it payback for all the times you used that line on your own parents.
Apparently, everyone else’s parents let them stay up late, watch whatever they like on TV and play console games with older age limits, as well as buying them all the latest designer clobber.
While Hubby and I aren’t what I’d describe as strict parents – I’d go with firm but fair – our twosome do sometimes play the “other parents” card when trying to wheedle their way into getting something or being allowed to do something they desperately want.
We’ve heard laments from our son about how all his friends have the latest football boots and trainers and our daughter tells us she’s “practically the only girl” who doesn’t have her ears pierced.
But their loudest and most constant pleas have been for a mobile phone, as guess what? All the other kids have one.
It was rather sheepishly that Hubby and I recently discovered this isn’t too far from the truth.
Our debate with our children has always been: “But why do you need a mobile phone? Who are you going to call?”
We have always said that when our children begin High School, we can see the benefits of mobile phones for peace of mind as they make their way to and from school.
If you give children phones before they need them, it’s just another technological device to encourage them to be anti-social by texting or playing daft games rather than speaking to people.
And they’d probably only lose it... especially considering the number of school jumpers our son has managed to misplace over the years.
We’ve all heard the horror stories about the sky-high mobile phone bills children have accidentally managed to rack up while playing on mobile phones.
One girl spent more than £1,700 watching videos about loom bands, the make-your-own bracelet fad.
But the one that really made me chuckle was the tale of the child who spent more than £1,000 on virtual dog food.
It wasn’t the reckless pretend food squandering that made me laugh, but the reaction of the child’s grandad when the mother told him about her daughter’s antics.
“But I’ve got a dog,” he said. “It won’t go to waste, I can always use it.”
“It’s VIRTUAL dog food Dad!” replied the exasperated mum.
Happily for our two, with the countdown to High School rapidly coming ever closer, they have finally achieved their wish and are now the proud owners of new mobile phones.
When I say “new”, I actually mean our old hand-me-downs.
And as we’ve never had flash phones ourselves, while they’re not bricks, they’re not quite the fancy Apple phones some of their friends have inherited.
But they are overjoyed at the ability to call and text their friends and are enjoying their new-found freedom at being able to play out for longer while keeping in touch as to their whereabouts.
There’s many major “first” milestones with children – first tooth, first steps, first bike – but for them, none seem to have been as thrilling as their first phone.
I have to admit, being able to keep tabs on them has given us a sense of relief.
We’re not daft though, we’ve made sure we’ve got a monthly contract with an agreed safety buffer to save any surprise virtual purchases.
However, while there are undoubtedly safety blessings in having mobile phones for children and adults, it did make me wonder how on earth we all survived in the days before they were invented.
Who else remembers the thrifty three rings method of letting your loved ones know you’d got home safe with the added bonus of not having to pay out for making a phone call?
Telephone boxes and payphones seem to be a dying breed as there’s just not the same need for them.
The pace of technological change is so fast nowadays that one year’s must-have item soon becomes a laughing stock.
But I suspect it won’t be long before people start sneering at the fact people used to have mobile phones.