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Mama Bear Moxie: Why my kids don’t, and won’t, have cellphones

Oh, the cellphone drama. When is the appropriate age to get your child their own cellphone? I have many friends who have gotten their kids a phone and I have some who have asked me my thoughts on why my kids don’t (and won’t) get a cellphone. I thought I would share what my husband and I think on the subject just in case there are other low-tech parents out there who need some support.

Intentional goals

My husband and I moved to the Midwest in search of a farm that we could call home. We moved to the country even though neither of us had ever lived on a farm.

Are we weird? Absolutely yes.

But our desire to live on a farm came with the desire to raise our kids in a manner that they understand this amazing world that God created and how to care for that land to provide our needs. We have our kids do things that other city kids can’t do: care for the chickens, ducks and rabbits, gather eggs and understand the circle of life that our livestock provide. Knowing the delicate balance between making the decision to kill a hurting animal than allowing it to suffer. How to shoot a gun. How to do hard work like mucking out a chicken shed that has been frozen for months but has finally thawed in the spring. How to care for plants, trees and grasses. How to be creative and make things work on the farm that are repurposed or salvaged. These are just a few things that we have decided to teach our children by living in a rural area. Having 24/7 cellphone access just doesn’t match up to our intentional goals that we have in raising our kids.

Safety

You and I both know that there are a lot of weirdos out there. There are a lot of predators that hide behind computer screens and try to prey on children.

Add to that the additional drama of a daughter texting a bunch of girls, who may or may not be true friends, and it is a recipe for disaster. My kids have friends, and they don’t need a phone to be able to connect with those friends. They see their friends at school and we are actively involved in our community where they would see friends outside of school times. They are involved in school activities and sports and have plenty of opportunities to socialize without the addition of a phone.

Cost

I can barely afford my own cellphone let alone one for my kids. How can other parents afford multiple phones for everyone in their house?

I am not about to pay hundreds of dollars a month so that my kids can text their friends things like, “ok” and “lol.” I am one of those people that will get a new phone whenever my old phone dies, not when the newest version comes out. There is just too much money wrapped up in the cellphone industry with the phone itself, monthly plans, covers that can stand up to being dropped a hundred times a day, chargers and accessories.

Time

Did I mention that we live on a farm? There is always something to do outside.

Chores are in abundance and regular daily chores have to be done in order to care for a farm. My kids barely have enough time after school to do their homework, do their chores, eat dinner and spend some time talking with us. We are much bigger fans of putting a book in our kid’s hand rather than allowing them to waste time on a phone.

With all of that being said, my husband and I did choose to get our boys a Gizmo watch this year, which has been effective in communicating with them without a cellphone. The watch is programmed with 10 numbers they can call directly from the watch itself. It also has texting capabilities where they can text parents who have the Gizmo app. It has been nice to have just in case they have an emergency and need to contact someone.

Now, before you go sending me an email defending why your kids have a cellphone let me say this: There is no judgment here. I would estimate that 80 percent of my friends allow their kids to have phones. And that is cool for them. Seriously, you do you. However, on the same hand, please don’t judge me in my reasoning to not allow our kids to have cellphones. And if there are other parents out there who want to live like it is still 1999 than I am right there with you.

Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane-area resident now living in Illinois who writes about family and faith. Contact her at kristina@mamabearmoxie.com or visit her website at www.mamabearmoxie.com.


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