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My husband and I have made a huge parenting mistake. We have screwed up, royally. Big time! Grande! We thought it was a good
idea at the time. However, we are now feeling pangs of remorse and regret for such
a decision—to buy my 11-year-old son (who was 10 at the time) an iPhone.
We thought it through. We discussed it several times. And
thought it through some more. He was
leaving for Utah to go spend two weeks with his dad. We could never get a hold of him when he was
with his dad. The stress of worrying
about him when he was gone—states away—and also being at the mercy of whether
or not his dad picked up my calls led us to decide that he needed a cell
phone. And it wouldn’t hurt for him to
have a phone on him in case of an emergency on a daily basis. We were convinced: He should have a cell
We should have stopped right
there and just bought him a cheap, basic cell phone. But we thought we had an even better
idea. Since my son, Evan, was so into
music and had been begging for an iPod or iTouch, we thought we may as
well buy him an iPhone so he could have it all in one. Add the fact that, through our plan, we were
eligible to buy an outdated iPhone 4 for $40. And it only had 8GB so we figured he couldn’t do much on it other than
store a few games, some sweet music and photos. And done! It made so much
sense. We were pumped. Evan would be so excited! We thought it would make the perfect
Fast-forward six months. Turns out iF***ed up.
Evan no longer has the iPhone. We had to take it away. Oh, the problems it was causing.
At first, he used the phone as planned, to call us from his
dad’s house over the winter holiday. What a relief it was to know I could speak to him whenever I needed to,
whenever I missed him. He wasn’t able to
download any apps without our permission, and he was happy to just have Temple
Run and Angry Birds to play on the flights to and from his dad’s, and every now
and then when he was bored. He
downloaded his favorite Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Swedish House Mafia
But then the girls started calling.
He was excited to have a phone. He started putting people into his
contacts—mostly family members and some of my friends. He got a kick out of randomly calling grandma
and grandpa and texting auntie Jenny funny selfies. But over the next few months, he started giving
out his number to friends at school. And
adding friends to his contacts. He and
his best friend would chat about Minecraft and basketball for a few minutes
here and there. I didn’t mind it. Evan and his best friend went to different
schools this year, and I thought it was cute that they liked to chat during the
week. But then the girls started
calling. And the non-stop communication
His phone started constantly buzzing, ringing, piano
riffing, strumming and making every other sound of which an iPhone is
capable. Friends (girls) were wanting to
Face Time, getting angry if he didn’t text back right away, or putting him on
blast over Kik (I wish I knew the first thing about that) if he texted one and
not the other. And it seemed, that as
hard as my son tried, he couldn’t help himself from engaging in some
way. We grounded him from the
phone. But when we found out that kids
were experiencing being bullied through group chat, we took the damn phone
And to be honest, he was happy to
give it to us. Not having his phone
prevented him from engaging in the madness, from being bullied and from being
associated with anyone who was bullying. He knew as well as my husband and I did that having a phone meant the
temptations to be on it regularly, to chat or text with friends, download
too much music, Google things and use a buttload of data to watch YouTube
videos. Hell, my husband and I face the
same temptations. That’s like putting a
kitten next to a quart of cream, or Snookie next to a tanning bed with goggles
and baby oil.
I don’t know what I was thinking. I used to regularly chant, “I don’t want Evan growing up too fast … I want him to do the normal ‘kid’ things that I did when I was young.” But here we were witnessing next-level drama and bullying being played out through iMessages. It seems that text messaging gives kids the courage that they may otherwise not have to say things to someone whether it is confessing a crush, a frustration or, sadly, even spreading hate. I understand that, unfortunately, this may be the case with adults as well. But I don’t want my son to have access to that type of forum until he is mature enough to handle it and know how to avoid the negativity.
We are sorting out an MP3 player for my son so he can listen
to his music. And maybe in a few years,
he’ll be mature enough to have the phone. But by then Apple will probably have made its way to the iPhone 13, and
we’ll probably be communicating by holograms. But until then, go run around and play Evan, and let the only drama be
when I get pissed because you tracked mud into the house.