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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Kids and Cell Phones: What is the right age for your child to have a cell phone?

Big news....our daughter got a cell phone. Yes, we finally gave in and decided our middle school daughter could get a cell phone. We purchased it a few weeks before school started so she could get use to it. Of course she knows how to use a cell phone better than I do. I usually am the one asking her for help with my phone.
I guess we were the last ones to get our 11-year-old a cell phone, at least that's what she tells us. I remember last year, when she was in fifth grade she told us everyone in her class had a cell phone except for two students and she was one of them.

I guess my biggest question and one I know my friends have is when do you get your child a cell phone? In today's society cell phones are the pretty much the norm for people. According to statistics I have read more than 90 percent of adults have a cell phone and 56 percent of children ages 8 to 12 have a cell phone and 77 percent of teens between 12 and 17 have cell phones.

I think the answer to the question about when a child should get a cell phone really has to do with the child and how responsible they are and why they need a phone.

For my family, middle school was the right time to for my daughter to have a phone. We don't have a home phone like families today. My husband and I both have cell phones, so it is nice to be able for her to have a phone if she were to be left alone at the house. It is also beneficial to be able to text her that I am at the school in car line ready to pick her up. I could also text her if I am running late or if another family member is going to pick her up from school. It will also be good for her to be able to call me when an after school activity is over. I remember when I was a kid and would use the pay phone to call my parents to come and get me after I was finished with an after school activity. I don't think too many schools have pay phones any more. I also think having a phone is helpful because when she goes to a friend's house she can call me if she needs me for any reason.

What I see as a problem is that cell phones today are more than a phone that makes a phone call. Today's cell phones can have internet and texting. How much of this do you allow your child to have? Plus it can be expensive to add internet and texting. I know cell phone plans come in all different kinds of packages, so make sure you get the right one for your child and your family.

You need to monitor your child's cell phone activity and set ground rules. You want to also make sure you talk to your child about staying within data limits, avoiding inappropriate content and any type of privacy risks and cyber-bullying. You should tell your child not to text anything including pictures that they wouldn't care if it was on the front page of the newspaper. If your child is driving, make sure they know not to talk or text while driving. Also make sure if there is a lock screen on the phone you have the password or code. If the phone has internet, you can use safe search tools or download apps. I also told my daughter no using the phone to call anyone before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Cell phones can be great and a great line of communication for you and your child, but you want to make sure the phone is used appropriately and for the right reasons.

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