After reading the article "Preteens and cell phones: my change of heart", I wanted to commend the author's husband for helping their daughter find a constructive way of voicing her opinion and trying to persuade her parents to reconsider. Instead of whining and begging, she presented rational arguments. Even if it didn't change their mind, I think she should be encouraged and praised for behaving so maturely.
As parents of a teen, my husband and I have had to deal with this issue. We decided to get a "family" cell phone that we could allow her to take with her when she was out with friends or going to soccer practice. This solved the issue of convenience without creating a situation where she might develop the texting addiction that was already causing problems for some of the other kids in her middle school.
We didn't give her a cell phone of her own until she was in high school. My husband and I carefully selected the kind of phone and phone plan she'd have. Since my husband is a techie, he opened up her phone and disabled the camera on it. There is A LOT of pressure on girls to sext and we didn't want her to have to deal with that right away. We told her that we'd re-evaluate things in a year. If she showed that she could use her phone responsibly, then we'd consider getting her a phone with more features. We also told her that she would have to leave her cell phone in our room at night. She was so happy to finally have a phone that she didn't balk about our restrictions.
I'm proud of how she's taken on this responsibility/opportunity. She had heard friends talk about how they accidentally--a parent would probably call it carelessness--racked up huge cell phone bills from texting so much. She came to me and told me that she researched alternatives to that and she found a program she could download to her phone that would allow her to text through the internet. She said it would allow us to select a cheaper cell phone plan that doesn't include texting without losing any of the features she now had. We checked out the program and she was absolutely right. That impressed us. We're always talking to her about the importance of frugality and it was encouraging to see her making an effort to save (us) money.
Now, we've developed a sort of system where she inherits our old phone whenever my husband or I get a new one. When I got the Iphone 4. She inherited my old Iphone 3g. Even though it's not the newest one, it's not obsolete and it does everything WE need it to do for her. She's happy with our system, because by the time she gets a phone from us, there are already lots of cool applications available for them.
I'm glad that we stood our ground. I think it's good for children to learn to delay personal gratification. No child should grow up receiving everything they ask for, as soon as they ask for it. As a family that--thanks be to God--can afford to give our only child everything she needs and much of what she wants, we think it's important to prevent her from growing up to be one of those adults who were overindulged as children and walk around expecting the world to cater to their every whim. We were able to use the cell phone issue as an opportunity to reinforce that lesson, instead of trying to "keep up with the Jones" and give her something just because most of her peers already had one.
If only the rest of parenting was as easily dealt with... :)