Sunday marked a turning point for our little family: my oldest daughter got her first cell phone.  We’d been debating the issue for quite some time, but finally gave in after she spent the summer in our good graces and got a job helping out with a friend’s dogs everyday that gave her enough income to chip in for the monthly phone costs.  Since we already had a family plan for my husband and I, it was only another $10 per month to add her.  We also decided to add texting which we never had before, so she’s chipping in $10 of the $30 for that monthly cost.  Luckily she was desperate enough that she immediately agreed to the terms: parental controls that turn it off during school and after 8:30p, spot checks on texts just like emails, and notice to any friend that she gives the number out to that they can and will be blocked if they send her inappropriate material.  We’ll see how that last item goes since I know full well that she’ll be deleting a lot before I get to it, but she’s on the honor system for now.

Of course, it didn’t hurt her cause to have her mother really needing a new phone and lusting after a smart phone.  I’m ready to chuck my old flip phone out the window for how many times it’s decided to not be a phone for a little while until I can pull the battery and get it restarted again.  I still haven’t gotten a new phone yet, but now that I’ve taken The Kid in to get hers, I can just order mine online and save some money and time.

How’s the experiment going so far?  Well, she’s averaging about 65 texts per day which occur in the one hour before school starts and the 6 hours after school gets out that she’s not doing homework, riding her bike to her “job”, playing soccer, or going to tae kwon do.  She pumped out almost 35 texts this morning just while waiting at the bus stop.  Not the ideal scenario, but I’m hoping she calms down a little next week.  And so far other than her parents and other relatives, she’s really only texting with 3 or 4 of her classmates, most of which we know and are nice kids.  Phew!  Good start.

And what of my search for a new phone?  I still want that iPhone 4, but may go with a cheaper android phone that doesn’t require a data plan.  The whole reason we got cell phones in the first place back in 2001 was because we’d gotten jobs and were commuting across Lake Washington to work.  Now I’m not commuting across the Lake, but I am driving almost 45 minutes each way now – about 10 times longer than I’d prefer my commute to be.  This morning there was a tanker that fell over and blocked all lanes of the major highway I take to get to work – it certainly would have been nice to have a smart phone with traffic maps, but at the same time, it wouldn’t have been safe for me to use the phone while I was driving to find the best alternate route since speeds never got slow enough for me to pull out my phone.  Plus, I can check traffic before I leave home or the office on the way to the other.

I titled this blog post the technology in my family’s life because I was also going to mention that my desktop computer finally dinosaured out and will be used no more.  We’re down to one laptop and one netbook for the family.  I’m tempted to get a docking station so I can hook up the netbook to the bigger monitor that we had been using on the desktop computer, but we’ll see when I can find the time to research that!

Also of note is the fact that my husband and I might finally be caving in on getting a gaming console in the house.  I’ve been wanting a Wii since they were first released a few years ago and now we’re thinking it might be a good “family” gift for Christmas this year – much like the digital piano we got last year has been fun for everyone.  We’ll see if that one actually happens, but it’s in motion.

Anyone have any great words of wisdom for me in my quest to find just enough phone for my needs and not go over my (small) budget?  And where’s the best place to get a Wii when I know I’ve got months before I need it to actually arrive on my doorstep?


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