Thursday, April 10, 2014

I NEED an iPhone Mum

I NEED an iPhone. This is something I hear all the time from Madeleine. Along with:

My phone is crap. I can't use it, it doesn't do anything, I can't believe you expect me to use a phone like this.


ALL my friends have an iPhone.

This is not a debate on when a child is old enough to have a phone. I don't believe there is a precise age, it depends on your circumstances and the situations your child finds themselves in. Madeleine is often with other adults, and often at dancing without a parent for many hours of the day or evening.

She got her first phone when she was 8, long before I expected to give her one. I received a call at work one day from a random stanger who had found her crying in the lobby of her Grandmothers secure unit building. Her father had dropped her off and watched her walk in the main secure door (who on earth let her in?), but her Grandmother forgot she was coming and didn't wake up or hear the door. Forget how angry I was at the circumstances that led to it (why, WHY did my husband not walk her to her Grandmothers door, why, WHY, did her Grandmother not wake up when she was expecting her), my main stress was that Maddy had to trust a stranger and enter their home in the middle of her distress. She was able to tell them where I worked, and they called the main call centre and tracked me down. Oh. My. God. So yes. If she was old enough to be put in that situation, then she was old enough for a phone to give her (and me) some reassurance that she could aways gets hold of a parent.

Back to the iPhone and 5 years later.

Maddy has a cheap Nokia that we purchased for $20 with a prepaid Optus Sim. Due to her low call volumes we find that the $30 long expiry plan is best for us, as she doesn't even use up the $30 credit in the 6 month expiry window. It works out to be $5 per month which is fine by me. I am also with Optus, so our calls to one another are free which helps with the credit.

Every now and then, after months of being nagged, begged, slightly abused, she starts to wear me down. We have a spare iPhone, relatives have scores of spare iPhones (just because we care for them well and get upgrades every couple of years), and it would make her so happy. Right when I am on the brink of giving in, despite knowing better, something will happen to remind why I am not giving my 13 year old this expensive technology.

2 months ago she broke her iPad screen. Completely shattered. She is still paying off the consequences. Last week a girlfriends daughter shattered the new iPhone 5 she had been given (holy moly, I was only considering giving Maddy an iPhone 3, or at best a 4 if a relo wants to donate one to the cause), another friend reports x3 months of $300+ bills in a row.

Oh that's right. Those are the reasons why she is not getting this unnecessary tech. To her it is a toy. The reason she rarely uses her current phone is because she actually doesn't want to make phone calls. She wants to play games, use social media, take photo's, edit photo's, and flash it around as a status symbol. All things she can do with her school iPad on the connected wifi. (when I haven't deleted all her non-school apps, but that is another story). It isn't just the iPhone she is desperately wanting, it is the 3G technology, something I won't be getting for only $5 per month, or even $25-$30 a month which is more in line with what I expect to spend on my teenager when she really starts using mobile technology.

So I am writing this post as a reminder to myself. She is 13. It is natural that she will make every promise and commitment under the sun to get her hands on that iPhone. It is equally natural that she will make expensive mistakes at my expense once she has it. It is natural that I want to give her something that will make her happy. But my wallet can't afford it, and she is a very normal teenager who will run up huge bills and then resent the consequences.

This is a lesson that can wait till she has her first part time job and has to consider the size of her bill against the size of her income. And if she chooses to not use her current phone to demonstrate her contempt that is it just a phone and nothing more, deep down, I will cheer. $5 a month is awesome. Keep the faith, Elise, keep the faith.


  1. Hi, My son has an iPhone 4 (my old one) but we got a Lifeproof case for it. These cost a bit, but they are waterproof/shatterproof etc, and can take what a 13 year old boy does to it! There is also one for the iPad! But I know what you mean - the technology and desire to be connected 24/7 is exhausting, worrying and expensive!

    1. We have one of those cases for her iPad now! Definately worth the money

  2. Screens are the worst for breaking - trust me we know. I'm of the thinking that you get a basic phone until you can afford to pay for a better one themselves.

  3. I agree with you. Stand your ground and she can have one when she has a part time job and can pay the bill. My kids are little so this is one thing I will have to tackle when they are older too.