A: A 13-year-old whose only material complaint is that she lacks an iPhone is not deprived. Four things I’ve said before in this column bear repeating: First, it is healthy and ultimately strengthening for children to not have everything their friends have. Children need to learn, and the earlier the better, that keeping up with the Jacks and Jills at school is not the key to happiness. Second, children do not need cell phones until they begin to drive (maybe). There is no evidence that they are life-saving and plenty of evidence that their use is life-threatening. Third, teens use cell phones primarily to text one another. They do not promote proper communication or a healthy social experience. Fourth, my recommendation is and will be that a child should get a cell phone when he or she can afford to buy one and pay the monthly bill. It is an extravagance that, however, “normal” isn’t necessary to a normal life. In this situation, your financial priorities should rule. Period.
Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his website at www.rosemond.com.