Don’t apologize for keeping your landline

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My landline phone.

Credit: Paul McNamara

You shouldn’t have to explain why you still have a landline, either, though I will do so in a moment because explaining such things is part of what we do here.

On the Washington Post website today, a mother of a 10-year-old seems almost apologetic and definitely compelled to explain why her family has retained its landline and why her child continues to use it. They’re all sound reasons:

We’re holding off for as long as possible on allowing him a phone of his own, though, partly because he’s not mature enough for social media nor free access to the whole Internet. Moreover, he’d just be too immersed in a smartphone, to the exclusion of everything else. We’ve seen that with the screens at home; I can’t imagine he’s prepared for the temptation of carrying one in his pocket too.

The acquisition of a cell phone is now a rite of passage for tweens and teens, usually bestowed by parents as a marker of increasing independence. As the apron strings get loosened, kids are now sent into the world with the safety net of a cell phone. Parents say, “My daughter walks home alone now, so I want her to have one.” Or, “He needs a ride after the game, and I need to know when it’s time to get him.” Someday I’m sure our family will reach this point too, the time when it makes sense for everyone for the teen to have a phone. For now, my son is indeed getting more independent, but he doesn’t yet need a cell phone for the half-mile walk to school or anything else he does.

I doubt she’ll hold off until he’s a teenager; that was my intent, too, but I caved when they were 11, earlier than I had hoped and earlier than I had pledged to disbelieving friends.

Yet we still have a landline.

One reason is the 911 thing, which the Post writer noted as well. Different mapping apps refer to my street by different names and I’d rather there be no such confusion in an emergency.

But the main reason we keep the landline is that one of my 14-year-old triplets does not have a cell phone, in part because he doesn’t like talking on the phone (or texting) and in part because he is on the autism spectrum. Our landline is his only phone and without it I wouldn’t be comfortable leaving him home alone.

Everyone has their reasons.

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