Denise Richards on her teens: The biggest mistake I made was giving them phones


Denise Richards latest project, The Secret Lives of Cheerleaders, premiered last night on Lifetime. Denise plays the mom who forces her teenage daughter to try out for the squad. As the title suggests, the movie is Mean Girls who cheer, but like dark pom-pom cage-fighting kind of bullying. In real life, Denise is mom to two teenage daughters, Sam, 15, and Lola, 14 (her youngest, Eloise, is seven). I’m sure Denise didn’t force her girls on to the cheer squad, but she did give them phones, which she thinks might be just as bad. She said this in an interview with Extra, below.

What Denise said about social media was:

I feel like it’s so difficult now, even more so difficult for kids today because of social media.
I think so too and I’m definitely seeing that with my own daughters, you know, there’s just so much access and they can see everything and hear everything. It’s very different and I think it’s a lot of pressure on kids now.

Are they on social?
Yes. I’ve taken it away several times. I feel like the biggest mistake I ever made was given them phones

We talked about Kelly Ripa and Jerry O’Connell not giving their kids phones for as long as they could. But their discussion was centered more around their kids getting lost on the phone and never seeing them again, not bullying, which it sounds like what Denise is suggesting is going on. But it’s not just the phone that’s the problem, is it? Because I assume these kids have access to computers and tablets. If they want to get into social media, I don’t know that parents can effectively stop them. As we discussed on the Alex Rodriguez post, kids will find a way. I think maybe educating myself about what’s out there will be a better course for me than trying to eliminate my kids’ access.

I remember being so grateful when the school bell rang, and I could walk away from all the high school drama for the day. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have it follow me home by way of social media. And I know that if kids want to come for each other, they’ll come for everyone in the family, which would make having a mom on a realty show a liability. And let’s not even start with their dad, Charlie Sheen. Could you imagine what kids who want to be hurtful lob at Sam and Lola? They have to fight social media fires on three fronts – oof. It might be easier to just not let them be teenagers. “Happy Birthday, Honey! Today you’re 22.” “But yesterday I was 11?” “Don’t argue with me, I’m your mother.”


Photo credit: WENN Photos and Instagram

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

9 Responses to “Denise Richards on her teens: The biggest mistake I made was giving them phones”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Elian says:

    I’ve got 2 older cousins who never gave their kids phones. Those girls/boys are starting their adult lives this fall, whether that’s college or work or the military, and they didn’t suffer at all from not having smartphones. They were super well adjusted, great students, church-going, honor roll, volunteers, one was even homecoming queen! They could leave the school drama at school where it belonged and surrounded themselves with kids whose parents had a similar philosophy. I watched one of these teens pick up their first smartphone at a wedding recently and she figured it out in 5 minutes flat, because guess what, that’s how they’re designed. And their parents had educated her on why they’re potentially harmful, so she’s not going in blind. My kids are too young for me to be worrying about this yet but I’m planning on doing the same as my cousins. Mine already don’t have iPads and get 2-3 hours of TV on one weekend day only.

    • kgeo says:

      That’s awesome. I’m having to cut back on small screens for my kids. I even had to cut back the phone (facebook) for myself. I don’t even think we’re that bad compared to others, but I can see a behavioral change after just an hour on a small screen.

    • PleaseAndThankYou says:


      Congrats to them, but the world is a different place now than when they were growing up – it’s much, much different and harder to keep kids away from screens/the internet now.

    • Elizabeth says:

      That’s really great! My daughter is still super young, but we’ll face this decision before we know it. For safety reasons, we may look into one of those super basic phones that can call 3-5 pre-programmed numbers. But, really, that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg.

    • MC2 says:

      Kudos to your cousins, but being a well adjusted kid has nothing to do with the kids having phones or not. There are plenty of kids with phones who are very well adjusted & plenty of kids who are not and they don’t have phones. Correlation is not causation & let’s not judge people who give their kid’s a phone as someone acting in bad parenting. It’s a valuable safety measure & I wish I had one when I was in sudden unsafe situations as a teen.

  2. holly hobby says:

    We gave our kids “dumb phones.” Yes the ones we used to have where we just called someone. None of my kids are on social media. That as a good thing because in jr high I found out one student was posting crap about everyone in the class. Those on social media of course saw it but my kid didn’t. Why make school already harder. The bullying is checked at the door.

    One time we were out to dinner and saw 4 girls (college?) just texting or on their phones while they were sitting together. No one talked to each other. That is strange. Don’t you go out so you can hang out with your friends instead of playing with your phone?

    i think that this generation of kids will grow up with their social skills heavily stunted. No one can write beyond text shorthand. No one knows how to converse in person.

  3. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I’ll probably get slammed here, but teens need phones lol. Not need like food and shelter, but for constant availability; that is, if they want mobility away from home. Phones aren’t the problem, it’s lack of communication and education. Giving a phone and walking away isn’t going to work. Occasional two-minute convos aren’t going to work.

    It’s an everyday thing, and as parents, we have an obligation to not only pay attention and lay down rules, but we have to listen. And then on top of all that, we have to trust and slowly release reigns. And this is a hard one, I don’t snoop. If they’re doing something questionable, it will surface, and the reigns get tightened, but if we go behind their backs and search for something to bitch about, their road to adulthood will take longer, generally speaking.

    Every family has to fight their own battles. And yes, phones are super easy to use, but it’s not their operation which needs conversation… it’s life online. It’s how to conduct their involvement in larger discussions publicly, how everything translates to many and how it’s brought back around to personal orbits of friendships inside and outside of school. “Sticks and stones,” do not apply anymore, because our words can, indeed, be sticks and stones. Intelligence. Maturity. Respect. Empathy. Humble. Generous. These are important buzzwords in my world. :p

    • amayson1977 says:

      Agree. The hard but important task is to teach kids to treat each other with respect, courtesy, and kindness, to expect the same from others, and to live those values every day (whether that means stepping in when they see someone being treated badly, asking for help when they need an adult to intervene, or ending/pausing a relationship if it starts to go badly.) Not giving kids phones isn’t teaching them how to navigate the larger pitfalls of the problems the phone can exacerbate. Showing them that “real life” is more important than digital interactions is crucial. Providing a strong family base where they always know they’re loved and supported is imperative. Staying close to them and talking about tough topics with an open mind is important.

      My son and I have had some really thoughtful conversations about reliable information sources, choosing quality entertainment, deceptive media, and critical thinking that I know are helping to prepare him for the larger world. Not letting him have a phone because of the potential for harm (he’s almost 12, we both work so he is home alone for some period of time most school days, and he’s a responsible kid) would be like not letting him out of the house because we’re afraid he’ll get hurt. Yes, it’s scary to give up control, but it’s necessary for his development. Our job is to make him a good adult, and that means giving him opportunities to try (and fail) while he’s still under our supervision.

    • Anne Call says:

      I agree. When my kids were growing up (before smart phones) the kids that weren’t allowed to watch tv would come over and all they wanted to do was-watch tv. I believe that you need to moderate, educate and supervise. In many ways, the ability to connect has opened up the world to kids, and who now can see and learn how other children, who may be very different from them economically and culturally, live.