"Alison? As in 12-year-old Alison with the really sensible parents?" I asked, my heart dropping at the thought of yet one more of my girls' tween friends walking around with the Internet in her pocket.
"Yup! Isn't that neat?"
"No. No, it isn't. Not at all."
I know these people well. They're wonderful parents - loving, strict - and their kids are great. And now even they are handing out smartphones. Which says to me that this - IPhones for teens and tweens, that is - has simply become the new norm.
Look, I'm not a Luddite, and - 23 years into this parenting gig - I am certainly not at all idealistic about raising children; I am all too aware that, no matter how you raise them and what rules you may enforce, those kids are going to do what they like the minute they leave your house (and sometimes before that). Hey, my only prayer now is that none of my children grows up to be an axe murderer. Seriously.
Maybe what bothers me is that kids (mine included) act so entitled these days (yes, I just wrote "kids these days" - so sue me) - I mean, don't they have to wait until they are grown-up for anything anymore? And if you give them an IPhone at age 12, what can you wow them with when they are 16? You know, I remember being excited about tangerine-flavored lip gloss when I was 12. Granted, I was a simple child, but still...
Or perhaps my real problem is that a 12-year-old (and my kids, when they are with her) has unsupervised access to the Internet - do people actually bother to restrict that anymore? Or is that just too 2010? Have we all simply given up, what with the Internet being so darn ubiquitous these days?
And how can people risk giving their kids expensive electronics, anyway? Is there special insurance for these things? I'll have you know that, last summer, my 14-year-old managed to jump into a pool with his (luckily cheap) cellphone in his pocket. I would have killed him if he had done that with an IPhone. Is there some secret place where all the other parents are buying these things cheaply and no one has told me?
In short, is there something everyone knows that I don't? Do all your kids have smartphones now? Am I the lone tightwad holdout here? And what IS up with kids these days, anyway?