Tsue ~ That's What She Said: Mom Tips: Is Your Child Is Ready For A Cell Phone

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mom Tips: Is Your Child Is Ready For A Cell Phone

With children en route to school, whether by sidewalk, bike or bus, many parents consider whether their child is ready for the responsibility of a cell phone.  With gizmos and gadgets galore to distract students from learning, readers or even healthy outdoor play, this is certain a wise decision to weigh before making a determination.

Photo Credit:  Katri Niemi
Although my own decision to allow my daughter a cell phone during her tween years was no doubt heavily influenced by her seemingly endless woeful pleas, after a bit of trial and error in regard to setting limits and lessons in responsibility, I am much more comfortable with the decision to allow my tween son to carry a smart phone.  What motivates this Mom to be comfortable with taking the leap?  Safety.  On that point I am not alone. 

According to a recent Consumer League survey, 
"most parents are arming their kids with phones for safety reason and to be able to track their whereabouts after school and on weekends".  1

Between my husband's and my varied work schedules and the kid's regular sports and after school activities, we are a family always on the go.  The reassurance and peace of mind I am afforded, knowing I can reach my children at any time, as well as their ability to reach me, far outweighs the expense of maintaining cell phone service for our family and any minor battles of the will in regard to appropriate usage.

Photo Credit:   Stephen Barnecut
However, despite this blessing of piece of mind, as my husband and I learned through our experience with our teenage daughter, it is essential to set limits and ground rules from the beginning.  Providing clear cut guidelines for acceptable use and firm consequences for to curtail poor choices is key to helping your child develop healthy cell phone habits.

Average age that parents allow their children a cell phone ~ 11.6 years of age.  2

Fortunately, there is a wealth of information available to parents to assist them in making the right decision for their family and to guide them in setting appropriate limits, as well as to understand all the helpful features available in smart phones.  One site I strongly recommend is Smart Phone Parenting.  Easy to navigate and comprehensive even for those parents who may not be well-versed in regard to the latest in smart phone technology, the resources you need to make an informed decision are readily accessible.

Parents will find helpful tips, national survey results to assure you are not alone in your questions and concerns, links to helpful resources, such as SafeKids.com, as well as the inside scoop about kids and cell phones, including the Texting Dictionary, a helpful guide to "translate" teen text talk!

Tips For Parents:  Your Child's First Cell Phone

Set Expectations Early  
One of the best ways to avoid “bill shock” is for parents to discuss expectations with their child on how their wireless phone will be used.  That way, the parents understand what the child intends to do with the phone (which may be very different from what mom and dad are thinking) and the child understands what will or will not be allowed.

Know the Phone’s Features  
Decide what features you want your child to be able to access on their phone, such as texting, Facebook and Internet access, and create blocks with Usage Controls for those things mom and dad don’t want to allow.  Kids are very tech savvy and can figure out all the capabilities of a wireless phone in a matter of minutes. If mom and dad don’t want their child downloading music, games, video or surfing the Internet, they should consider blocking those features.

Consider Setting Restrictions  
Through Usage Controls, parents can also set restrictions on the times  in which their child can use the phone (except for 911 which is always available), who they call or text and how many minutes or texts they can use during a billing cycle. 

Do some homework 
Smart Phone Parenting is a program and Website developed by Verizon Wireless to provide parents with the information they need to help their tweens and teens become responsible wireless users.

New Smart Phones, Verizon Smart Phones

Does your child have a cell phone?
What age did you allow your child a phone?
What are the biggest challenges you face with your child's cell phone use?
Tell me in a comment below!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thank you to Verizon of Michigan for sponsoring this feature.  My family is exploring a Sansung Galaxy S 111 for the purposes of creating this feature. The opinions above are both honest and of my own experiences.  Some information sourced from SmartPhoneParenting.com  1 - Detroit News   2 - Verizon Study 


Grace Hodgin said...

I think it depends on the need and circumstances and age whether to give a child a cell phone. I think it is always wise to set restrictions and then give more freedom as they show more responsibility.

Pam said...

I agree that it depends on the needs and circumstances. My daughter got a cell phone when she was 12 but my son is 15 and still hasn't gotten a phone because he doesn't need one.

Crystal Threeprncs said...

My son has no need for one, but I'm one of those I don't want him to be left out parents. However, he doesn't have anything fancy nor is it contracted.

Minta's Creations said...

My son is 12 and rides the Metro bus (only school kids) on it but I still want to know he is ok so he has a cell phone be it my older cell phone but like most say it really depends on the child and the circumstances.
Great post!

Samantha said...

mine is 5. can i wait? LOL

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