My title might be a little heavy-handed, but hear me out. I've been with AT&T for my cell service since before I had a rhyming name. Before kids. Back when it was Cell One and then Cingular and now AT&T. Last Monday we changed carriers. It felt a little like I was making the decision to leave an unhealthy relationship. There was some guilt and nostalgia but mostly relief.
Our lives have changed. We are about to embark on a new era with 4 mobile phones all requiring unlimited voice / text and some data. We all need smart phones. Before judging us for being spoiling suburbanites, let me clarify our reasoning:
Our kids have a walk to the middle school that is about 3/4 of a mile each way. I believe that it helps clear their head, build relationships, foster independence, and instill healthy habits to walk everyday. I only drive them when the windchill is below zero, every once in awhile when we are running a bit late in the morning, or if I need to leave the house at the same time as them. With that said, I feel more comfortable if my kids have a phone with them for the walk. It allows them to check in and see if they can go to a friend's house rather than straight home. It gives them an option if there is an emergency or if they are feeling unsafe/sick.
When my son graduated 5th grade, we got him a $10 a month non-smart flip phone. The kid never had it with him. He would forget or it would be lost in a couch cushion or uncharged. Finally, at the end of 6th grade, my husband and I reassessed the situation. We decided to buy him his first smart phone and pay the monthly fee under these conditions: