Help! My teen wants an iPhone

My daughter is demanding an iPhone for her birthday and I’m dead set against it. Here’s why she’ll be getting one anyway

081913_teen_smartphone-small.jpgImage credit: ITworld/Phil Johnson
I think we all know who'll be crying when this is over

Our older daughter turns 14 in November and several months ago she declared what she wanted for her birthday (no exceptions): an iPhone 5 and accompanying data plan. While my wife is willing to reasonably consider the idea, I am against it. That means, of course, that whether she gets one will come down to which of us can win my wife over with logic, reason and, if need be, tears.

My daughter’s argument for getting an iPhone is simple: EVERYBODY ("No, seriously, everybody,") has one. I countered with some actual research. A pair of recent studies, one by Neilsen in July 2012 and one by Edison in January 2013, each found that around 60% of U.S. teens have smartphones. However, a study by Pew in 2012 found that the portion of U.S. teens with smartphones to only be 37%. Either way, though, the main point is not every teenager has a smartphone, let alone an iPhone, so score one for me.

My main concern about my daughter getting a smartphone is not that I’m worried about her having too much access to the Internet. While there is evidence that teens may be susceptible to becoming addicted to their smartphones, that’s not my primary issue. Granted, I think our daughter may already be addicted to taking and posting selfies to Instagram. However, in general, she’s already proven to be pretty responsible online and with her time management, while already having access to our family laptops, her own Kindle Fire and an old iPhone 3GS (with no data plan).

No, I’m against getting her an iPhone for financial reasons. Simply put, I don’t want to spend the money on a mobile data plan for a 14 year old. Call me cheap but we already pay for her to have a feature phone with voice and text, not to mention the home Internet; I can think of no compelling reason to pay for her to have a mobile data plan on top of all that. 

Nor do I want her spending her babysitting money on it, which she has offered to do. She should put that that money (or most of it) into her college savings fund, IMHO. Lord knows, her college account could use all the help it can get.

In the end, though, I can sense that my daughter offering to pay for it has won over my wife, which means my daughter will probably get her wish  - er, demand. In preparation for the inevitable, I’ve already engaged in preliminary settlement discussions with my wife and we’ve kicked around a plan where our daughter would pay part of the upfront cost of the phone, and then pay for the data each month. I guess it would be a good lesson in paying your bills and being responsible and that sort of thing.

Plus, I remember what it’s like being that age and wanting the latest electronic gadgets. The difference was the Commodore 64 didn’t involve recurring monthly charges. Ahh, simpler (and cheaper) times.

Do you have a teenager? Does he or she have a smartphone? Why or why not? Please share your experience because I may still be able to turn the tide in my favor...!

Read more of Phil Johnson's #Tech blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Phil on Twitter at @itwphiljohnson. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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