Rant with Randi: Cell phones, technology and kids, Oh my!


By Randi Crawford

According to a 2010 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, I’m not the only freak who believes in cell phones for kids. Apparently, twice as many children have cell phones today, as in 2004. Sixty-nine percent of 11-14 year olds and 31 percent of 8-10 year olds have their own cell phones. I was encouraged by a friend to write this rant, let me explain. We were at a July 4 celebration, and as the evening came to an end, we had a brief situation...OMG, my 10-year-old son couldn’t find his iPhone. The next thing I know, there are about 20 adults searching, in the dark, for this phone. The whole time, I was shrieking out of pure embarrassment that it had come to this. And that’s when my buddy suggested that this was a good topic for a blog.

No, we never found it at the party because he had left it at home, on the charger all night. What a little turd! This is my fault, and I accept full responsibility. It all started when my daughter was about 3 years old. Verizon had come out with this adorable ladybug cell phone that had four buttons, each pre-programmed to call an adult. I begged my husband to get it for our daughter. He was appalled. But when she turned 9, I think I finally broke him. Today, she’s almost 13 years old, and he’s still pissed that both our kids have cell phones.

For about two years, our kids attended a public school right near our home. One afternoon, I went to pick up my kids, and there was a “lockdown” at the school. Luckily, I had arrived just as I saw helicopters circling, and I ran in and grabbed my kids. But I’ll never forget the feeling of, “Is this really happening? What would I have done if I couldn’t contact my kids for hours while they were held on the campus”? That’s when I seized the opportunity to run out and get my son his own phone so that I would never feel disconnected to my children. I know, if you read my Simplicity article, you’re probably wondering if I can really let go. And the answer is yes, but when it comes to anything having to do with my children and their safety (sports practices for a few hours and I’m not there), I want them to be able to get a hold of my husband or me. This part is a non-negotiable with me. I’m still OK with them using sharp objects in the kitchen...just as long as their cell phones are right next to them so if they cut off their finger they can call me!

Last night I was out at a business dinner with my husband, and I was the only person who had a phone on the table. I wasn’t expecting a call from a friend so I could shoot the breeze – this was so that I could be notified when my kids got home from their respective sports. I could tell that my husband was antsy that my phone was out, as he kept giving me “the look” to put it away, but I didn’t budge. I’m curious what you all think? Is it rude to have your phone out when you’re at a dinner? It could be a social dinner, a business dinner, or even a dinner date. I could be eating with Oprah (and her $38,000 dollar purse), and I’d still have my phone on the table. It’s just the way I’m programmed, no pun intended!

I realize that we didn’t have cell phones when we were growing up and life was totally different. But as far as I’m concerned, this train has left the station.

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