The phones are here! The phones are here!


Group of high school students using cell phones and tablets while relaxing outdoors

“Now that I am on a salary, can I get a phone?” Nick asks as we are driving home from his camp counselor orientation in late June.

I cringe. My runway has run out, in fact, I can look in the rear view mirror as it has long since passed.

The time has come. The iPhone 6 is coming to my home for the newly minted CIT and soon to be freshman in high school.

I cringe again. Of course, I realize I held out for the longest possible time and yet, there are exactly zero reasons he actually needs a phone.

“Mom, I am one of two counselors certified in CPR, so I need a phone in case of an emergency.”

Okay, perhaps there is one reason and of course, it’s compelling.

I sigh, “Yes, we will get you a phone this weekend,” the third cringe follows, “But, you will pay for it and there will be rules.”

I actually don’t know what the rules will be, but there will be some and good ones. I just have to figure out what they are.

The phone comes into the house.

“I have three immediate rules and I reserve the right to add more as appropriate,” I say to the top of his head as, of course, he is thumbs-deep into the phone at the first opportunity.

He glances up with a look of exasperation at the interruption.

‘Oh, this is going to be fun,’ I think to myself.

“Here are my immediate rules,” I say grasping a finger to emphasize each one, “

  1. You will leave the phone on the desk downstairs every night.
  2. You cannot be on the phone when you are with us.
  3. Since there is absolutely no expectation of privacy, we will check your phone periodically.”

Nick takes umbrage with #3, but I explain when he is posting to the Cloud or on social media, he could be shouting every word in Times Square for all the privacy it affords him.

I then continue to explain that, as parents, we need to give him parameters.

“Dad and I would not drop you off in the middle of NYC and never check on you. So we will not give you a phone without oversight.”

He seems to be okay. Well, I think he would agree to anything because he is probably the only incoming freshman without a phone in all of America.

A few days go by and things appear to be fine.

Then the notifications from ATT come in, “You are at 75% of your data usage.”

“You are at 85% of your data usage.”

“You are at 100% of your data usage, so we have added another GIG of data for $15.00.”

I log into my ATT account, which quite frankly, I haven’t looked at in years. I review our data plan. We increased our 1 GIG of data Greg and I shared for many years to 3 GIG when Nick joined our plan.

Clearly we are novices at the data game.

I joke to Nick, “Since you will pay for these new charges, if you keep this up, you will soon be holding a sign saying, ‘Will work for data.’”

He reviews the WIFI password access on his phone. The data usage levels off.

The weeks speed by and truthfully, this is not so horrible.

He is self-sufficient.

He is respectful when he is with us.

He is does not take selfies and post to any social media sites.

He does not respond to texts immediately to the detriment of those with whom he is actually spending time.

He is really not that engaged with the phone.

I feel pretty good at this point. Perhaps all will be well.

Then we decide that Katy will take the bus next year to and from school. I panic – for no real reason by the way, but panic ensues.

“We need to get Katy a phone,” I say to Greg the other week.

He glances at me as if I am insane.

I explain my reasoning and Greg never needs any significant push when it comes to potential safety. I think I just have to utter the start of the word and he flies by me to provide it.

We take Katy to get a phone last week under the same conditions as her brother. We have the rules and privacy expectation conversation with her.

“Since you are younger, there will be more rules,” I explain to her as she is lovingly caressing the phone against her cheek.

Oh, this is going to be good.

The days crawl by and I have to say, what a #$^&# disaster.

Girls use phones completely different than boys. Girls text each other – constantly. Girls take a million selfies. Girls cannot wait to get onto social media.

As things have arisen I never dreamed I would have to deal with, the past days have been filled with the following comments:

“Do not send me a text when we are both in the house.”

“You will not use the phone when you are with us and that includes in the car.”

“When you are sitting next to your friend, there is no need to text each other – ever.”

“When I call you, you will pick up immediately.”

“You will not get an email account until we decide on the provider, name and conditions.”

“You will not get an Instagram, Snapchat, Vine or Tumbler account. I know you don’t want a Facebook one and I will think about Pinterest and Twitter.”

“You cannot use your phone while you are watching TV.”

“You owe me $60 from your purchases on Apple.”

“You will not send another selfie – to anyone- until I say you can.”

“You cannot use your phone again until you finish your chores.”

“Who is this Ryan person? Have you met him? Stop texting him – right now.”

“You cannot use your phone until you finish your summer book report.”

Yup. This completely sucks.

I am in the process of coming up with rules for the school year. I cannot wait. I think the first one will be that she can only use the phone for ½ hour a day. I’m not sure, but I think I may start there.

So, the phones are here.

Yup, the phones are here. 🙁