Thursday, January 08, 2009

Dilemna...

For over a year now John and I have been thinking of disconnecting our home phone line and going completely cellular.

The only reason I keep squashing the idea is because we sometimes let Will stay at home alone for short periods. John and I both have cell phones, but if there wasn't a home phone, how would he contact us in an emergency? 

Not a day goes by that Will doesn't ask/scheme for a cell phone. He really is in the minority at his school. I've watched the kids file out of his middle school in the afternoon and 90% of them have cell phones which they flip open/turn on the minute the bell rings. (And yes, I realize that being in the minority isn't necessarily a bad thing.)

Will's 12th birthday is next month and it would thrill his little techy heart if we gifted him with a phone. At this moment, the matter is under parental consideration.

In light of that...........................

I'm wondering if any of you have any sage advice for me?
Do you have a land line? And/or a cell plan?
Do your kids have cell phones? If so, how old are your children? And what limits/rules do you have in place? 
Have you had a similar dilemna? If so, how did you handle it?

I know that we could keep our land line and just get the basic service, but you know what? It's actually cheaper to add a third phone to our cellular plan. Plus, my cordless phone is on it's very last leg. I can't even answer half the time and I can buy a new cell for the cost of a cordless phone.  From an economic standpoint, it makes so much sense to go completely cellular. 

I'd love any and all advice you want to send my way! If you have a particularly strong opinion about this matter...I'll be happy to listen to what you have to say.

35 comments:

Trish said...

ohhh, tough dilemma. we have recently been grappling with this one also. our son is not old enough for a cell (he's 9) even though he thinks he is, and alot of kids in his grade (3rd) have them! our issue is what we would do if we were both going different directions for an evening (which happens once or twice a month) and we had to have a sitter at home.

We have figured out that it would be cheaper to have the third cell line and get a third cell phone that we keep in our posession and bring out only when we needed to leave it for the babysitter.....

I don't know what carrier you have, but I have heard that verizon has awesome parental controls that allow you to set up times when phone calls and texts can be sent and received and when they can't. I also heard that you can allot him a certain amount od minutes from the family plan each month and after he has used those up he is either out of luck or you can open up more minutes for him. Check with your carrier and see what type of parental controls they have in place.

Then remind him that "with privilege comes responsiblity".


PS, I'm giving you a little linky love, I loved your idea about sending your laptop to work with john yesterday!

Stephanie @ My Answered Prayer said...

I agree with Trish about getting a 3rd and taking possession. You could always let him take it on occassion when he needs it but I don't think they should go to school at all. We are considering going all cell too...most of our sitters would have cell phones and we're not to the point where ours need them....thank goodness. Good Luck with this!!!

Tiffani said...

Okay....that's tough. BUT, I have some friends who have a girl Will's age and she does have a cell phone.

They aren't a frivilous family and wouldn't just give in for the sake of fitting in (just like you guys)...she is at the ballet studio a lot, with friends a lot, home alone and so on...and they too have set parameters with the phone.

I don't see why (especially since his birthday is next month) that he shouldn't get one...but that's just one opinion~

good luck with your decision!

Michele said...

We have both - land line and cell phones. No, since my kiddos are homeschooled they don't have phones although Alec (11) would love to have one. I have even joked around with him and said, "who would you call? none of your friends have cell phones."

However . . if it is cheaper to go totally cellular and Will wants one then why not? After all, wouldn't you probably get him one when he starts driving anyway (I know we will)? Also when he is at a friend's house away from the night he could get in touch with you if he needed to without having to ask his friend and/or mom to use the phone. I do send my cell phone with Alec when he spends the night off just in case he needs me.

So, if I were in your shoes, I'd surprise him with one. Or, if you don't want to feel like you are spoiling him, give him your cell phone and you get a new phone?

Good luck! Can't wait to hear what you decide.

OhioFamOf4 said...

We went all cellular last year and couldn't be happier. It's kind of a pain if you ever have to call anyone for a customer service issue, since you tend to be on the phone awhile, but otherwise we love it.

My favorite part is that if someone calls your house and you can't answer, your cell phone isn't ringing 2 seconds later. They call my cell and I either answer or I don't. There's no other way for them to reach me.

I love not dragging two phones around the house, never knowing which one was going to ring, where did I sit it, etc.

I also miss fewer calls and don't have to run home to check the answering machine to see if XYZ called me back.

And the texting. I get so much done socially by texting. It's so hard to talk on the phone with two loud toddlers running around, but I can accomplish quite a bit by texting. I just love it!

We have Verizon so we can talk to a lot of people for free who are in our network.

Our kids are 2 and 4 so no need to worry about them having a phone yet, but we've discussed when they're older we can just get a 3rd one and they can use it at the house to talk to their friends or what not. Will probably still be cheaper than a land line and won't tie up my phone either.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

Ginger@From The Cocoon said...

Ok, I'll try to be brief...

both of our kids have cell phones and have had since Q deployed in 2006. Blake is now 13 and Mallorye is 16. We have done away with a land line and been pleased. However, there are strict guidelines with the cell phone;

*specific hours that it can be used and I check! I also check to see if it was used during school or church.

*we don't answer the phone or text during meal times or family time

*we have Cingular and you can actually disable the phone for certain hours of the day through parental controls

*it also is a great motivator...they don't want to lose their phone privileges and I've been know to take their phone for 6 weeks...trust me, that hurts!

Hope this helps!

Ali said...

My parents got rid of their land line about a year and half ago. So funny that my retired parents made the decision while my husband and I still can't decide! :) My parents made the decision solely on finances. It was cheaper to use only cell phones and drop their land line..so they did and have been totally happy.

My kids are young:5, 2, and baby in belly so we haven't had to make that decision yet. But, just judging on what I see around my town, at church even at the grocery store it does seem like a ton of kids (even younger than Will) have cell phones. I went to Walmart before Christmas and while waiting in line behind two little girls with their Mom each little girl had a cell phone. I asked the Mom how she made that decision and she said it was a safety decision. Her kids have full access to her and she had access to them even at friends house, sports, etc.

So curious to hear what you guys decide! I know God will give you and your husband unity and wisdom as you make this decision.

~ Ali

Gretchen said...

You know your kid, and you know whether he could handle a cell. If I know you as much as I think I do, I suspect you'd have some mighty tight rules, and that not following them would result in no cell phone use for a bit.

That said, we are cellular at the beach and do have a land line at home. What I would say is that I personally am not ready to give up our land line at home simply because we have terrible cell coverage at our house. I literally have to go outside and walk around if I'm to hear a conversation on my cell at home. If that's not a concern for you, I'd say take the plunge.

Keep us posted.

Holly said...

Our land line is from the same carrier, as our internet--so we get a discount using both together. And of course, our oldest is much younger than Will--so we are not there, yet.

We DO need to save money, but I do not like talking on my cell phone at all--it is uncomfortable to me (I do not have a handy blue tooth). I am much more comfortable on my regular phone.

I tend to favor the land line and use my cell sparingly.

Mama Voss said...

I got rid of our land line over 2 years ago and haven't had any regrets. My kids are a little younger than yours, but I've thought about your dilemma. I've considered adding an additional cell phone to be kept at home... a basic plan for calling mom and dad. I figure that when the time comes and if the kids can be responsible with it, then they can have one that they help pay for. Cell phones can get very expensive quickly so I think that there has to be some incentive for the kids to be financially or 'chore' responsible.

Holly said...

PS I don't know what is up with my math skills and birthdays lately. Noah is about to be 11! Not that far from Will, actually.

Elizabeth said...

We have the same dilemma. Our daughter is only ten but most of her friends have cell phones-I think that's crazy. They are addicted to them it seems, texting all the time, etc. Our dilemma has more to do with getting rid of the land line. I am so nervous I'd leave the cell somewhere or forget to charge it. And I'd hate to be without a phone since 2 of my kids are at school all day and we don't have friends they can contact. What if the school needs me? The land line is only $25, but then again we almost never use it. Not even once a day.

Let us know what you come up with. I need to same advice!

Jacquie said...

It sounds like you kinda have your mind made up already. I agree with all the comments above.

My two cents... my oldest is a really responsible child, my youngest? not so much. My kids got cell phones in high school (About 5 years ago now. If they were in middle school now, I'd be asking the questions you are.) I do agree that limits are a must. And you carrier's options will be important. Text, minutes and internet can be very expensive. If I hadn't gotten unlimited text/internet the next month my son's bill would've been almost $1000!!! They don't realize how fast it adds up. (AND texting becomes totally addictive.)

You'll need to decide whether he has a barebones phone, and add on later. My kids pay me now for their part of the bill so I don't have to worry anymore, but it was stressful when it was my nickel.

Good luck.

Teri in CO said...

Ah, the dilemmas of growing kids... we were "old school"... our oldest didn't get a cell phone until he was 15 (he's 20 now) and the youngest got one when he was 14 (17 now). I believe (the oldest paves the way so expect your girls to have them younger than Will). They both pay for their "portion" of our bill and have since they got them.

My hubs works for 911 and has always had issues with people using cells only at home because alot of the cities' 911 systems do not track cell phones to a specific address. More and more are able to do that as time goes on.

That said, our house sold and we are moving into a rental for the next 6 months and are going to try the cell phone only!

carpoolqueen said...

I'm going to read everyone's comments without leaving an opinion of my own. We're actually thinking of unplugging the house phone as well.

ForHisGlory said...

Here is what we have done...We went completely cell about a year ago and we got an extra cell for home use or basically the extra one that the kids can give out the # to and text from and all that...we are still able to keep a tight reign on it and it isn't in the complete possesion of our little guy(not so little)...If he goes somewhere we think it is appropriate for him to take it somewhere, we will allow it, but it isn't "his" technically...

Leah Belle said...

i've wanted to go completely cellular for a while now... it seems like the economical thing to do, but can't quite convince the hubby!

my 2 kiddos are young enough that i don't have to worry about getting them phones yet. however, as an observer of youth (hubby's a youth minister), i would plead with you to not let him take it to church. texting during services is one of my pet peeves and it is rampant among our middle school kids.

i have a very close friend who recently gave her 12 year old a cell phone. it seems like she's always having to remind her daughter to charge the phone or find the phone. it's a great opportunity to teach responsibility, but also a pain.

i also worry about the other people out there with phones. are they going to send my son/daughter nasty messages or dirty pictures?

i don't intend for this comment to have a negative tone...i don't think its wrong or bad to give middle school kids phones, but i agree with most of the comments that it should be very regulated.

there's nothing harder than being a parent, heh? it seems like EVERY decision is a huge one!

Megan L Hutchings said...

I wish I could share with you some major words of wisdom b/c you always help me ;). My best advice would be to pray about it and do what your heart says is right...in concerns to Will!

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Do you read Vicki Courtney? She has a lot to say on these type of issues. (http://virtuealert.blogspot.com/)

This won't be an issue for us for a very long time but from what I've learned: 1. Turn OFF the ability to receive pictures on the phone. 2. Limit number of texts. 3. Confiscate the phone each night.

I'll be honest that I think cell phones and teenagers are a bad mix. If you go completely cell what about the girls? That means when they are old enough to stay alone you will have to give them cell phones also. Can paying for 3 (then 4. then 5) cell phones each month REALLY be cheaper than a landline? We pay $26 (w/taxes and fees) for our landline. Also, when comparing the costs of phones consider how long they last. If they both cost $50 now, when will you have to replace the cell phone/land line phone and shell out another $50?

I think a cell phone for a teenager should be a "rite of passage." It's a big responsibility with the potential to cost a lot of money. That's my opinion for what it's worth. I'm sure you and John will make a carefully thought out decision.

It's All Good! said...

I really can't give more than the great advise the other commenters have given, but our experience is that we waited until Chels was 16 before she rec'd a phone. Then again, she was homeschooled so it wasn't as necessary. As for the landline, we are actually considering getting rid of ours too. We only use it now for faxing.
Let us know!

Scrapper Mom said...

Wow, it's like you read my mind. We've just gone through a similar thing, but our daughter is only 10. We did finally decide against the cell for her age, but it's also bc we can only have 5 phones on our family plan and have that. We are going to open that up for consideration again when our son (who is a Senior) gets on his own plan hopefully in a couple of years.

What we did was just cut off our long distance leaving our land number for incoming calls. When I leave her briefly, I give her my friends phone number and tell her if there is an emergency to call her and she will call me on my cell..(Then I can call my daughter back at home). I am still not satisfied with that completely, so we have considered getting a track phone or a go phone an leaving it in a drawer just for instances like that, but not technically calling it "her" phone yet.

In your case, I would think 12 is old enough. It's just silly in my opinion for parents to shower their kids so young. I don't like the message it sends kids today, but he seems old enough. I would definitely give him the lesson on responsibility when you hand it over. I say do it especially since it's his bday.

Moriah @ Please Pass the Salt said...

No land line.

And no, my 5 year old does not have a cell, nor would he know how to use one (tho I could teach him, I s'pose).

I think you'd be fine w/out one and getting a third line. It's not like Will has to carry it around AT ALL TIMES. You can hand it out when it's necessary... like when you leave the house or whatever.

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

I have a 10 year old daughter, and we gave her a cell for Christmas...mainly because we cut off long distance on our land line & now she can call family & a best friend who live away. BUT, we have very strict rules:

1. No talking during the week (wastes our minutes, which we didn't change when we added the phone)

2. Texting til 7:30 during the week, and til 9 on weekends. No texting during a meal or when she has friends over.

3. She earns weekend talking minutes (which are free to us) by how many pages she reads during the week.

4. The charger is NOT in her room. We have the phone, and access to review everything on it.

5. If the grades drop, the phone goes.

Basically, this was more for our convenience. We've thought about going completely cellular, but haven't gotten there yet. Don't know if that helps, but it's working for us so far.

Fran said...

Well, if you remember, I put this up on FB before Christmas. We did end up getting one cell phone for our 11 yr old. my 12 yr old didn't want one....go figure. Argh. But, I haven't regretted it.
The newness and craze has worn completely off. It has been so very nice to text him when he's at a friends house to just say hey and whats up.

I'm not going to tell you what rules to set in place. We knew real quick once he had it what the rules needed to be for us and him.

And...i'd ditch our land line in a minute. Its 100+ dollars down the drain each month. CRAZY.

good luck.
Love ya,
Fran

Amber said...

I would go with the 3rd cell, but if you aren't ready for Will to have it ALL the time, then just bring it out when he's home alone, or he is going somewhere that you might want him to take it along so you can reach him. They are convenient, but I'm not sure I would be ready to open up the huge door of Cell Phone Responsibility on my 12 year old son either.

We're actually thinking of doing away with our land line, too. Just don't use it enough to warrant paying the bill.

Let us know what you guys decide.

lisa@littlesliceoflife said...

The only problem with not having a land line is that people can't call information and get your #. For example, let's say you had an old friend, from oh I don't know, maybe AR, who didn't have your email address and wasn't your friend on Facebook, how would said friend find you?

We gave Hayley a cell phone last year when she was 11 as a reward for exhibiting very mature behavior in a disappointing situation (oh, how I would love to give you details! Let's just say it had to do with goings on at a certain church.) Anyhoo, it has been a HUGE blessing. It is so nice to be able to get in touch with her anytime, anywhere. I can wear my pj's when I pick her up somewhere because I can text her to say I'm there instead of going in. That, in my opinion, makes it worth it. A word of advice...DO get the unlimited texting package. The kids only talk by texting--they don't actually talk on the phone. Oh, and we have a certain time at night that the phone gets turned off. You can check your usage online to see if calls or texts are being sent after that time and also to see who they are talking to.

Kelly said...

Probably a year or two ago - I decided no one EVER called us on our home phone and we were throwing $60 out the window every month for something we never used. I always thought it was "weird" to not have a home phone. Guess what - disconnected - haven't missed it for a minute.
As far as a 12 year old goes......YIKES - don't want to think about it- but it would probably help to keep tabs on him.

Natalie @ I AM (not) said...

My wee people are too young for a celly. So, we have the land line. I'm sure that will change. Then, isn't there those phones that you can put only a certain amount of numbers on it?

Christen said...

let me know what you come up with because we are thinking of making some changes in that area too. a couple years ago we went with vonage but when we called to cancel the landline and found out our internet would double (and no longer be saving anything) we went back. i was looking into Skype for $3 a month you can use the computer to call any cell or landline or Skype to Skype is free but haven't went for it yet because i need to find an isp deal...who do you go through? and the lack of 911 service too :(
anyway i've told my kids they can have a cell phone when they start driving...at 18. meanie :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Mer,
I polled my 6th grade class for you today. Most of the have a cell phone but it has some type of restriction to it. One said he can't have his phone after 8 at night and he has to pay for the minutes and text messages he uses on his pay as you go phone.
Another said she has to give her phone up at 10 and cannot text.
One of the other boys said he just didn't have texting at all.
None of them are allowed to bring them to school. You might be able to hold him off until 7th grade but if he is involved in any after school activities he might need one. I have had students in the past who brought their phone to me first thing in the morning and I kept it for them all day and they would retrieve it at the end of the day. Good luck. I honestly don't know the answer and dread having to make it myself :) Glad you painted your calendar frame and that it makes you think of me. That Shay is gorgeous isn't she. I told Angela what you guys said :) Have a great rest of the week.
Joan

Teresa Nelson said...

Mer,

We cut the land line a couple of months ago, and I really grappled with it, like you. But you know what? I really like the extra $50 in my account each month. We got a pre-paid cellular for Emma for her birthday so she could have one when she is at home alone (which happens occasionally and for brief periods.) She hasn't talked on it once! I thought it would be a big deal, but it hasn't. I was planning on using it as a tool to teach responsibility, but I haven't needed to because she just doesn't have friends that are allowed to text and talk on the phone all the time. If it ever becomes a problem, the fact that she only gets so many minutes per month nips that in the bed. Go cellular -- all the way!

Julie said...

Well, your son is not the only kid without a cell phone.... our 16 year old, 14 year old and 11 year old don't have one either. We don't usually buy a cell phone until they begin to drive and then it stays with the car.

What we do is have a 3rd cell phone that is the "house phone". It's here for when we are not to call if needed. That phone then becomes the phone that goes with the car when there is a teenager out in the car.

It's worked for us for years now. Neither of my two oldest had cell phones until they started driving.... but then I am from the "dark ages"...

Oh, and we have had LARGE cell phone bills when those two girls used the cell phone at home...but THEY paid them. So you gotta consider what happens if he uses the minutes and doesn't have a job. Thankfully ours had jobs so they "antied" up when the bill came due...

Just my thoughts....

His Girl said...

I'll throw my 2cents in, though it's not that different.

Know your kid. My son is super responsible with electronics, and has no interest in chatting. Him having a phone is mostly for my convenience... yes, pickup time at school, but also, getting separated in the store, calling him downstairs when he can't hear me (remember, he's hearing impaired, so you're not allowed to judge), and checking on him when he's with friends or family. I love him having one. Ours is only 10 bux a month. totally worth it to me.

now, as far as land line, we stripped it bare. we mostly only use it to fax out. Come to think of it, I bet we could cut that right out of our budget. great idea. can go toward my "someday having a cleaning lady" fund.

Amy said...

I really have nothing noteworthy to contribute about the phone situation, I just wanted to say I love that you also spell "dilemna" the old school way.

Kimberly said...

We went totally celluar a few months back. It's great & it stinks. I don't get a lot of calls, so minutes aren't a big deal. Plus, our plan let's me pick 5 people to call whose minutes don't count. What drives me nuts is the number of times I can't make a call OUT!!!! Make sure you have good coverage. If you don't, keep the land line with just basic service. It's so bad, we might add the land line back. grumble
Oh--and the boys have their own phones. :) One is plastic and beeps, the other is my old phone. Good thing they are one and three and don't seem to notice that no one ever answers.........