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Too Young to Text?

December 20, 2010

The decision to allow our 8-year-old to have her own cell phone was not easy one, but one of the better decisions we’ve made. The reason being is that she has Asperger’s Syndrome. Frustrated daily by the tasks of exchanging verbal dialogue, our daughter’s words and thoughts seem stuck in her head, unable to easily release. Although she has the ability to communicate, she lacks the initiative, and attempting to build relationships is not her strong suit.  With the phone, she texts both of her grandmothers and takes special pride when her text messages are received and returned. We gave her the phone to ease anxiety since she would worry and obsess about what to in case of emergency…coming home for school and no one being home, who would pick her up at an afterschool activity, the list went on.

As I sat at a dinner function this evening, I received a series of texts.

J: When will you come home?

Me: Soon, but they haven’t served dessert yet. Hang in there. Love you.

J: What time?

Me: Don’t know yet. Maybe 9:30

J: What in the world? I can’t wait that long!

Me: You can wait.

J: So if I wait will you bring back a treat?

Me: Maybe.

J: Can you get me some cheesecake?

Me: Don’t think they have cheesecake.

J: Then what do they have?

Me: Don’t know. Goodnight. See you soon.

I had to appreciate this exchange. Mainly because in a verbal discussion, it never would have played out this way. Whining, complaining, and not being able to even have questions asked this specifically would have been challenging for my daughter. As an above average student who excels in reading and spelling, the texting provides a comfortable way she can communicate with us when she chooses. If you think about her daily life, you realize that she is having to adapt so much to other people, kids, and situations. Why not make something a little bit easier for her? Plus, it has made her relationships stronger and more special with family. Funny how she never uses her cell phone to make a call, only to text! Point proven.

So, when I opened the door on Twitter to a discussion on cell phone use in kids I immediately received two different view points. One from a fellow mother with a 15-year-old son and one from a former teacher. Here are their comments. I’ll let you form your own opinions.

XxMissMeXx I got my son’s first cell when he was 12 bcuz he is diabetic and I was worried about him being home alone in the afternoons. I’d worry constantly if my son didn’t have a phone… afraid to let him out of the house. No one rule works for every situation. Flexibility in parenting is key.

fleetssara No cell phones til kids are driving and only for emergency. No texting. I’m mean. Phones of teens in parents hands at 10pm. I see value in having an extra phone for kids to call parents for rides, etc. No need for calls or texts to friends. When I taught HS parents would call their kids during school day! No cell phones in classrooms-just lockers…didn’t realize how strongly I felt until you asked. : )


Our Ground Rules:

In setting up our daughter’s phone, I programmed in family and friend phone numbers and put in place parental controls. I deleted programs and apps she cannot use and there is no internet function. The only glitch we’ve had is when she snuck in on her 5-year-old brother and snapped a picture of him going to the bathroom. Ok, we had to laugh at this. That is pretty typical kid behavior! We did delete the picture and luckily she never figured out how to send it to anyone.

The phone can be taken away for bad behavior and texts and phone calls are monitored. The phone is not allowed to go to school unless there is a concern someone won’t be home when she gets off the bus. Teaching responsibility, manners, and providing caution such as not answering any calls or texts from someone she doesn’t know (just like not answering the door at home) are all important lessons for early phone use. You might not agree with our decision and that is ok. Every parent has the right to decide what is best for their own child.

In the News:

Social Media Guidelines for Children >>
Via @TweetReports

School Cell Phone Ban >>

7 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2010 2:26 pm

    I love that this has become a tool for your daughter to excel in communication.
    Every child is different. When my teens daughters were texting under the dinner table, texting during school hours, and texting during our 1:1 time in the car, I became infuriated. Texting has been found to be addicting.
    I hope texting does not end up replacing verbal communication for your daughter but helps her to articulate. Perhaps if she formulates her sentences or questions in a text she can better read out loud to communicate appropriately and this can be a tool for a child with Asperger’s.
    For my son with ADHD and with communication and interpersonal relations difficulty, he began at seventeen engaging through social media and texting and he made many friends. I wish I would have given him the phone for texting earlier, but we didn’t think he needed a phone, having not seen it as a tool.

  2. December 20, 2010 3:05 pm


    Thank you for your response! Great feedback, especially in regards to your son with ADHD. I do believe that social media will open the doors for children that can’t easily or connect with their peers. Additionally, it makes them feel a part of the group and gives them a voice. Luckily for now, the texting is limited and most of the time she’ll forget she even has the phone. However, when she does use it it’s always fun and interesting to read what she says. Additionally, it has allowed her to develop a relationship with an out-of-state grandma who she never was able to chat on the phone with for lengthy periods of time so that has been special.


  3. December 20, 2010 3:23 pm

    Having a daughter with Autism, I so get everything above and can relate. (Wow…they are so similar!) I haven’t had to face the cell phone discussion yet so I’m just listening in on opinions. BUT I am SO glad she asked about cheesecake :0) I love my young cheesecake fans!!!! xo

  4. fleetssara permalink
    December 21, 2010 7:19 pm

    Thanks to opening my mind to other viewpoints of the topic. Most of my experiences with kids and cell phones are similar to Aligaeta’s and as a teacher in a classroom. Some parents really do think it is their right to talk to their children in the middle of class.

    I now clearly see how the phone can be an effective tool for some kids that need it. Maybe it is a need versus want decision. There are many things we want but don’t truly need.

    Kids need to be able to communicate in a social/business setting. Some kids certainly can benefit from communicating in this way. For other kids it is a cop-out and they are missing the opportunity to learn how to communicate. It is all about balance and appropriateness.

  5. December 21, 2010 11:13 pm

    Wow great post and wonderful comments above. I need to spend more time on your site for sure

  6. December 29, 2010 10:03 pm

    Wow, I never would have thought about how useful a cellphone could be for someone with difficulty communicating. That’s such an amazing story about you being out and her texting you to come home with cheesecake ;). I know that must have warmed your heart, it warmed mine just reading it.

    My kiddos are still super young (1 and 3), so by the time they are teens, I suspect phone or no phone will be a non issue (meaning it will be a given). I do think that if I had older children now though, I’d take the same approach that you do.

  7. August 10, 2017 4:12 pm

    Great post! Have nice day ! 🙂 gpwmq

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