Kaitlyn’s older brother, Daniel, just got his first cell phone for his 13th birthday. If you ask him, he’ll probably tell you that he was the last seventh grader in the world to get one. Okay, so maybe a lot of kids his age have phones, but I think there are plenty of families out there that are really trying to hold off on giving their kids phones until they feel it’s completely necessary.

Without a doubt, I think it should be a carefully thought-out decision regarding when to start to add your kids to a family cell phone plan. I’ve heard of first graders with phones and high schoolers without them, so I don’t think I’m on any extreme end of the spectrum. Personally, I think that my son is ready. He rides his bike to school, and I want him to be able to have a way to call me in case he needs anything. I’m picturing him with a popped tire or a lost bike lock key (hopefully nothing worse), but it will give me peace of mind knowing that he has a phone to call for help.

I guess I’ve held out so far because I’ve never wanted my kids to be like the tweens I see in the mall wandering around with their phones in their faces—not able to even look up to have a conversation or watch where they’re going. However, the more I think about when we’re going to add the next couple of kids on a plan, the more I’m pretty excited about the prospect of Kaitlyn having a phone.

I can see the significant benefits of giving my girl with type 1 diabetes a phone at a younger age. Despite her older siblings getting jealous, I see Kaitlyn having a phone in the near future. For one thing, companies are coming out with more and more diabetes tools that link up with smart phone technology. There’s one mobile monitoring app that we’ve tried already—it uses a phone to transmit blood sugar information into the cloud. We don’t even use the calling or texting features on that phone! A new app that works with Kaitlyn’s continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is another tool I’m excited to try, but it would also require Kaitlyn to carry around a cell phone.

Beyond the obvious benefits, I want Kaitlyn to be able to call or text me when she has concerns about anything diabetes related. It’s clear that she’s becoming more and more independent with her care, and I want her to be able to reach me at a moment’s notice. Birthday parties will become a cinch when she’s able to text me a picture of her plate of food and I can text her back a number. When there’s a surprise treat at school, she’ll quickly be able to let me know, and I’ll be able to help her figure out the carb count without her having to leave the classroom. Being able to call and remind her to check, dose, or make a correction at any time will be a complete game changer!

Of course, we’ll have to have some concrete rules about when and how she’ll be able to use the phone and work through all the details with the school. I can’t wait for the day when she’s ready for this next big step, even though on the surface, it might seem a little strange to give a cell phone to a young girl.

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

Related topics:
CGM in the Cloud
My Diabetes Technology Wish-List
What I Learned by Trying James’ CGM Device on Myself

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