Why one mom isn’t getting her daughter a cell phone – yet



Estimated Reading Time 2 Minutes

My daughter is a good candidate for a cell phone: she walks home
from school, and she often babysits her younger brother. At 12, she
is old enough for the responsibility of a phone and I have no doubt
she’d take proper care of it. She wants a cell phone desperately for
many reasons, not the least of which is because “everybody has one!”
But she is not everyone, and I am making her wait.

I didn’t have a cell phone when I was
a child, and somehow I lived to see
the day when I could deny her one.
But my reasons for not getting her
a phone aren’t just rooted in the “I
didn’t have one, so neither shall you”
argument. If I employed that logic,
she also wouldn’t get braces or love
notes in her lunchbox.

I truly believe – for now at least –
that she is better off without one.

I’m not opposed to her owning a
cell phone ever. But I want her to first
be comfortable asking people – not
machines – for assistance. I want
her to be able to get change from a
clerk to make a phone call. I want
her to be able to fi nd her way using
a paper map or bus schedule. These
things are palpable and real, and I
want her to know the feel of paper
in her hands. I want tangible things
to assist her with solving problems.
I want people and quarters and bus
schedules guiding her, not “Siri.”
Technology isn’t going anywhere,
but I want her to trust herself and the
world around her before she turns to
an electronic box for all the answers.

I want my daughter to think about
her words before they live forever as
a text message or tweet. I want her to
trust her intuition. I want her to get
lost sometimes and then fi nd her way
because she made connections with
real people, not because her fi ngers
made a connection with a touch
screen.

I want her to grow up
understanding how to solve a
problem without Google or advice
from Facebook.

I’ve also explained to her my fears
that a cell phone will contribute to the
loss of serendipity in her world.
“SerenWHAT?” she asks.

Serendipity, I tell her. It’s the
pure joy arising from a completely
unexpected meeting or encounter.
It’s when things just come together
without outside influence. It’s a
matter of being in the right place, at
the right time, without planning first.
It can’t happen with interference from
text, email, instant message, or tweet.

She says she thinks she
understands. “Is it like last summer,
when I was walking home and saw all
my friends at the park?”

The kids pooled their money and
bought ice cream sundaes.

“That was the best day,” she
concedes. “Everything just sort of fell
into place.”

“Yes,” I tell her. “That’s exactly what
it is.”

It was serendipity and sundaes all
around, and no one makes an app for
that.

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, August/September 2013.

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