Yes, my middle-schooler has a cell phone
I really didn't think I'd be one of those moms who let my 10-year-old have and use a cell phone. Sylvia started asking for one back when she was in 3rd grade...because, of course, "all the other kids have one." The answer was no, absolutely not.
Not long after that, when Sylvia was in 4th grade, we got offered the opportunity to take part in Beta-testing a phone. We would get the phone and one month of service for free. I decided, what the heck?
However, I set down some ground rules. She wasn't allowed to take it anywhere. She could only use it with my permission. She was not to text at all (lesson learned from a colleague whose daughter had managed $700 worth of texts in one month).
Sylvia followed all of the rules. The plan was inexpensive, so we decided to keep it.
For the first year, she almost never used it. She had my phone numbers plugged into her contacts, as well as some other family members, but she mainly used it for the video, pics, and games (we have no video game players or consoles in the house - that's one I've managed to keep out).
When Sylvia started a new school in 5th grade, there was no after-school care available on school grounds so she was picked up after school by a local after-school club. Because it was going to be a new experience, and I was nervous about it, I allowed her to take her phone to school, but only to call me if there was a problem. And one time there was.
She started using the phone a bit more regularly after that, but mostly to call me. And not just when there was a problem. She would call to tell me about an after-school activity she wanted to do. She would call me to tell me exciting news. She would call to tell me about a bad day. She would call to ask what time I was picking her up. She would call with a change in the schedule. And sometimes, she just called to tell me she loved me.
There are still strict rules, and the older she gets (she's now in 6th grade), I have to remind her a little bit more about the rules. Sometimes she does text, but mostly it's to tell me she loves me. I have the capability to restrict her phone as needed online. But she will always have a phone now. Because there's nothing cooler than having your kid call just to say hello.
This is an original post for LA Moms. April is a single mother of two daughters, and sometimes blogs at her personal blog It's All About Balance...when she's not on the phone with her daughter!