When I was 10, my dad taught me how to make a collect call.
No, it wasn’t a call where you give the operator the number and wait for your parents to decide whether they’ll accept the charges.
It was much better — being sarcastic, here.
He taught me how to make a call where you yelled your message very quickly and then hung up before the receiver had a chance to accept or deny charges. And, it was quite effective for many years.
Ah, life before cell phones. A life where you drove around town in search of a payphone that actually worked.
Now, the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center reports that 20 percent of third-graders own cell phones. Third-graders!
Why do they need cell phones in the first place?
I get that a high schooler in after-school activities or a young driver on the road might need one. But a 7-year-old?
Where might they be where an adult isn’t present? I have no plans of leaving my child at any location where there isn’t a trusted adult — whether that’s a coach or mentor or school official — that doesn’t have access to his or her own phone.
My 14-year-old niece received her first cell for Christmas. I was so proud of my brother and sister-in-law for waiting. She was the only person in her group of friends that didn’t have one.
As a teenager, I can remember pulling the cord of our house phone as far as it would stretch to have a small bit of privacy from my parents. I didn’t have too much freedom, just enough to make me feel slightly independent. I’m wondering how we can still teach that same lesson to our children if we give them cell phones at such young ages.
Can they really handle talking, texting, and social media all in one device? And if we say we’ll monitor it — will we really?
Danielle Herzog is married and a mother to two children. Read her every Wednesday on momaha.
* * *