It is my son's ninth birthday this week and we have had the inevitable 'discussions' where he goes on and on at me and I nod and grunt in the appropriate places. After the onslaught on Christmas and all of the materialistic joy it brings with it, I am always less than enthusiastic about poor old R's birthday. This year is no different except that this year, he thinks that nine is a very big deal. Nine means that he is nearly ten, heading at great speed towards double figures and the heady heights on teenagedom. For me nine is nine. Nine, I will admit means that he is no longer a 'little boy' and I am trying to treat him as such, but when he mentions those dreaded words "But mum I really need a mobile phone", I am thrown into a bit of a frenzy.
He does not need a mobile phone. He doesn't go anywhere much and very rarely on his own. I take him to school, myself or his father is pretty much always there when he goes out to play. Why then does he need a mobile phone? He wants to Skype his friends. I said to him that he spends all day with them, why would he really want to do this. He wants to text his friends. Only a few of his friends have a phone and I would hazard a guess that most of those aren't switched on a great deal.
Then he hits me where it hurts. "But mummy, you are always on your phone." Well, I'm not on it all the time and I am on it a lot less than I used to be, but it is true that I am never far away from my beloved mobile. I keep it in my pocket and it is so easy to just check my emails, check my Twitter time line, have a look on Facebook. Before you know it, several minutes have passed by and you are away in your own little mobile induced world. He knows that this will get the desired effect and it never fails to make me feel guilty.
It is true that when I first had my smartphone I was obsessed. I had never had something so sophisticated before and I loved it. Everything is so easy. It was my phone that helped me to discover blogs and social media and whilst I am glad that it did, there did become a time when I was permanently attached to my phone. My three year old daughter often pretends to 'tweet' and 'blog' on her little pretend plastic phone and I feel that maybe I have not been setting the best example. Like any obsession though, it has dwindled and though I would hate to be without my phone, it now spends a lot of time on silent, tucked away until the children are in bed or I have a few minutes to sit and catch up. I don't want to give the children the idea that it is normal to be constantly checking their phones. Smartphones are brilliant devices, but everything is good in moderation.
As for R, he will not be having a mobile for this birthday. Some other electronic device will be heading in his direction, I have no doubt, but not a phone. I have told him that maybe next year we will consider it as his tenth year will see him moving schools and this will probably mean he will have more independence. He rubbed his little hands together with glee and started talking about a range of different smart phones that he has his eye on (and has been looking at on different sites on the internet) apparently he particularly likes the look of a Samsung Galaxy Ace and but something tells me he will be waiting for a very long time before I buy him one of those.
This is a post written on behalf of Dialaphone, but the endless conversations with my son about him wanting a mobile for his birthday are very real.