A kid needs an iPhone like a fish needs a bicycle…right? (Back me up here, please.)

“When can I get an iPhone?” my daughter asked today.

She’s eight.

Photo: Heather Setka

“You can have an iPhone when you can pay for it,” I said, my father’s voice somehow possessing my vocal chords for a brief moment.

“What do you mean? iPhone’s cost money?”

“Of course, they do, buddy. It costs money to buy them. It costs money to pay for the bill every month.”

“Oh,” she said, and she dropped it.

I felt like her request came out of nowhere. After all, this is a girl who doesn’t ask for much in the way of toys, clothes and stuff. But truly, it’s been brewing. Everyone in her life has an iPhone or something similar, including one girl her age who is very important to her. (“She even has Netflix on it, mommy.”)

These are the reasons I suspect parents buy their children – even really young children – iPhones and other electronic gadgets:

  1. safety
  2. entertainment
  3. peer pressure

I feel tempted to launch into a 700-word diatribe on what’s wrong with each of these reasons, but I don’t think I will. Not only would you ditch this longwinded blog for something more concise, but I’m also starting to wonder if my values are becoming out-dated. If I require proof that cellphones (and iPods and iPads, and their less sexily named/packaged counterparts from other companies) are ubiquitous, I need only look inside the spring jacket my daughter’s Nama just bought her.

Photo: Heather Setka

Even her jacket is telling my girl she needs an iPhone.

I have extremely old-fashioned ideals that often alarm people given my vitals (liberal arts degree, single mom, writer), and I often hold fast to them. However, I’m starting wonder if my values about what we all need to survive and thrive are no longer realistic.

Maybe it’s perfectly reasonable for an eight-year-old girl to own an iPhone equipped with Netflix and Angry Birds and a contact list full of other eight-year-old girls who all have their own iPhones. (Even as I write this in a coffee shop, a noisy cartoon ruckus breaks out in the corner – as if to taunt me. It’s an iPhone entertaining two children, one of them not yet old enough to talk or walk.)

At least for now, my daughter’s not demanding one. But I wonder when that day will come. When will this grow into a stand-off between us?

I hope it’s years away. But something tells me it’s just around the corner.

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One thought on “A kid needs an iPhone like a fish needs a bicycle…right? (Back me up here, please.)

  1. Cleatus says:

    Of course, back in the day It was Nintendo and skateboards for boys and Barbie, rollerblades, and trips to the mall for girls. Suddenly someone realized that a one-time high price purchase is not nearly as valuable as a regular monthly payments attached to a piece of technology with a 12 month shelf life. Payment for us, profit for them. Except unlike water, we don’t need an iPhone to survive (I say this of course hypocritically owning apple stock and checking my PDA 100 times a day…at least it is for work…um mostly). I think in terms of what to say, my mom had a phrase that cut right to the point: “it is just not how I choose to spend my money.” The iPhone can wait. Some days I wish snail mail won out over texting and BBM. In the meantime have her carry a bat when she’s in the hood. Cleatus-out.

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