Jessie had wanted a phone for a year or two. It just wasn’t affordable for us to get her a phone and she was always with a trusted adult so she didn’t truly need one. There had been a few situations that made me think it would benefit us if she had one, but it wasn’t a necessity.
Finally, when I decided it was time for an upgrade for me, we were able to replace the battery in my old one, an iphone 5c. By the time we found out that, yes, you can replace an iphone battery, I already had my heart set on the Iphone 7 plus. Cause, I can see it really well with the larger screen. The camera also makes it easy for me to take great photos for the blog. Since she is using a phone we already owned we just pay $20 for her phone line per month.
I’m sharing our experience here in case it might help someone else. This isn’t meant to be a how to or even suggesting what you should or shouldn’t do, just sharing what is and isn’t working for us.
Restrictions and Rules for $ and Data Usage
I set up restrictions on the phone so that she can’t make purchases or download apps without me putting in the password. I learned this from a Kindle experience 🙂
Data Usage: We all share a data plan. Jessie knows that she can’t play any videos, FaceTime or video chat unless we are on wifi. It hasn’t been difficult to teach her when we are on wifi. She knows we are when at home she usually has wifi and if we visit a friend she knows that the first time she has to get hooked up with the password for wifi.
Jessie knows what she is allowed to do when she doesn’t have wifi. She can use Facebook , play her WWE SuperCard game (minimal data usage on both of those) or watch a downloaded video on Netflix. Only once has she purposely watched a video that wasn’t a download (thankfully, I caught on before it was costly) when she knew she shouldn’t.
If she were to break the rules she would temporarily lose her phone to help her remember. She LOVES having her phone. She will do what it takes to keep it.
Facebook: Jessie doesn’t accept FB friend requests without asking me first. She had a FB long before she had a phone and has done well at abiding by this rule. Only once did she not ask first and then she confessed.
Video Chatting: She does video chat in her room sometimes, mostly for my convenience. Sometimes she and her friends talk a long time and I’ve said before I kinda crave peace and quiet. I usually know who she is talking to. Sometimes when I’m listening from another room and can’t tell who, I will come into the room (like I have laundry or something) or text her to ask her.
I know well the people that she is chatting with, except in one group chat group she has, which I also know to be harmless. Still, I make sure I am in and out occasionally. I’m not saying she never will, but she doesn’t currently regularly video chat or FaceTime with any males except brother or daddy.
I randomly and periodically look through her phone and fb messages. Not really because I suspect any wrong doing, but to see if she is calling adults more frequently than she should and being an annoyance in that way. Safety isn’t my primary reason, but I like knowing who she is communicating with. Sometimes when I am getting her hooked up to CPAP and she has just set her phone alarm I will give it a quick glance.
Pros: Things I Think Are Good About Jessie Having a Phone
There are several ways that having a phone has helped Jessie have greater independence.
Using the phone alarm clock is a big one! Jessie right away started using her phone for an alarm clock. We homeschool and we had gone back and forth between me waking her in the mornings or her sleeping until she woke up. Her using the alarm did several things.
- She quickly learned it was always AM when during the morning times that she set her alarm for! We had talked and talked about this. When she used the alarm for herself it quickly clicked.
- She felt more grown up. This helped her more happily take personal responsibility in other areas.
- On a day when we have nowhere to be, she turns her alarm off and lays in bed and watches a video on her phone for a few minutes as she wakes up. I don’t have to worry about her falling back asleep like when I would wake her. Like her mama, when there isn’t a rush to be somewhere she likes to lay in bed a minute and wake up. Watching a video means she doesn’t fall back asleep.
When Jessie goes to bed we turn the ringer OFF and ringer volume UP. This allows her alarm clock to ring and be heard, but no phone calls or texts from earlier rising friends will wake her up. If I need to text her something to see when she wakes up, it will be there waiting for her without waking her up.
This next pro on the list might seem silly to some, but it’s genuinely helpful for us. Ya’ll know, sometimes it takes SO much to get out the door, especially if you’re going multiple places before you return home. I’m getting myself ready, gathering things to take, taking the dogs outside multiple times, putting the trash where the big dog can’t get it and kenneling the smaller dog. Shutting bedroom doors to keep dog out of there while we’re gone. Making sure the door is shut to the office so the dog can’t get to the litter box….doesn’t that make you feel stressed just reading it? I’m sure you can relate.
- If I’m not sure if Jessie is indeed getting ready or has done the things she needs to do, I can text her to turn off the video or to ask her if she has brushed her teeth etc., or call her to give instructions while I continue to run around like a crazy woman. Before phone, I was going to her room multiple times sometimes to she if she is on track and remembering everything she needs to do, causing me to run behind in what I needed to do. Maybe I should have a better system, but this post isn’t about that 🙂
- When Jessie has woken up in the night and needed me in the bathroom she was able to call me. She also called me when it was storming. I usually sleep with her when it storms. Maybe we eventually won’t, but it doesn’t seem a big deal right now to me. She has gone from sleeping full time with her sister (who got married) to me sleeping with her on Friday nights and when it’s thundering loud enough to wake her over the sound of her box fan. The benefit to her calling was she never disconnected her CPAP, I just went and crawled in bed with her.
- She has friends with DS or other disabilities that she has been able to connect with more and deepen friendships with now that she has a phone. She uses FaceTime, videochats on FB, and really enjoys doing this with her friends. Sometimes they are talking to each other and doing other things at the same time. I can tell that this has enriched her friendships and her life.
- We haven’t had a home phone in a couple of years. When Jessie wakes up I don’t have to worry about leaving a note, or worry if she will find the note or be afraid that she’s alone. I like to sit in the backyard with my coffee in the mornings. If she can’t find me she calls or texts; no anxiety for either of us. Sometimes I will text her while she’s sleeping to let her know I’m outside if she wakes up.
- Spelling: In the past, Jessie texted some with my phone but she texts more now that she has her own. Texting helps her with spelling, and because it predicts what she’s trying to say, she is able to communicate with words she can’t fully spell without getting too frustrated. Sometimes she will ask me how to spell something and then after the first letters she will say, “I got it.”
- We have gone back to writing chores on the white board on the refrigerator. On her own she came up with the idea that she wanted to take a picture of the list (maybe she’s seen me do this with the grocery list?) and carries it around with her till she’s finished, then comes back and wipes them off the white board.
- When Jessie particpates in activities away from me or visits with a friend it is easy for me to stay in contact with her or check on her without having to bother the adults in charge. I can text her to ask if she’s having a good time, let her know when I’m about to pick her up, etc. Knowing we have a way to reach each other easily gives us both peace of mind.
I can only think of two Cons, but they are significant issues each of them.
- Jessie LOVES to talk on the phone and to video chat. It has been hard to get across to Jessie that adults are busy with work and other things. I don’t want her to make a nuisance of herself. Defining how often, during what hours and who she can call has been a major challenge. Finally, on one occasion our conversation made her cry and on a 2nd occasion she cried and lost her phone for a few hours. She hasn’t done the same thing since, but it’s still a struggle.
- Jessie spends a LOT of time on her phone. If she’s not talking, she’s watching YouTube or TV, playing a game, she even uses it to play music when showering or cleaning her room. None of the things she does are bad, but it’s hard to have her be willing to do anything without complaining if it involves her being disconnected from her phone for long. Ahhh… life with teenagers.
Caring for the Phone
We immediately bought Jessie an Otterbox Defender case. It does a good job of protecting her phone from falls. Because it is rubbery and not slippery she hasn’t really had an issue with dropping it. She has a few times gotten a couple of drops of water (after handwashing I think) on the screen inside the case. I had to remove the case to dry it but the phone was fine, it was just on the surface.
Jessie started carrying a cross body purse to make it easier to keep up with her phone and her money anytime she is away from home without mama. I think she is less likely to leave it sitting on a shelf when shopping or a restaurant table if she carries her purse. So far, so good. She uses her phone a lot so that helps her keep up with it too. When I’m with her she puts it in my purse when she doesn’t want to carry it.
Well, those are all my many wordy thoughts on how Jessie getting an iphone has impacted our lives. Hope it’s helpful!
Till next week friends,