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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

When is my child ready for a cell phone?

It seems like everyone these days has cell phones, even young kids. My husband and I knew the day would come when we would have to get our daughters cell phones, but knowing when to give them a phone was something we went back and forth about.

It is a big responsibility and is an extra expense. Like many parents I asked my friends when they got their kids cell phones. I also researched articles on the internet to see what  the pros and cons are about cell phones for young kids. I did find out more than half of kids my children's age have cell phones. According to the Pew Research Center 56 % of kids ages 10-12 years old have cell phones.

I also found it really depends on your child, if they are responsible enough to handle a cell phone. 

For my family, middle school was the right time for my oldest daughter Randi to have a phone. She had just turned 11 before starting middle school. She had been begging for a phone for a few years, but we just couldn't see getting her a phone in elementary school. She would tell us how everyone in her fifth grade class had a phone and she was one of only a few who didn't have a cell phone. Still we didn't think she really needed a phone at that time. So far, Randi has been very responsible with her phone.

Just recently our younger daughter, Graci, turned 11. She is in fifth grade and wanted to get a phone for her eleventh birthday because her sister got a phone when she was 11. My husband and I wrestled with the fact about being fair, but really wanted to wait until Graci went to middle school to get her a phone. 

Of course Graci told us everyone in her class had a phone. I told Graci, we don't do or get what everyone else has just because they have it. A few weeks after her birthday, her nana said she had just upgraded her phone and had her phone available if we wanted it for the girls. It kind of worked out perfect, because we were trying to figure out how to get more memory on Randi's phone and this phone was the same kind of phone she had, but with more memory. We decided it would be good to give Randi her nana's phone and Graci Randi's phone.

So for us, both girls were 11 when they got their first cell phone. Our girls are responsible and for me the convenience of them having a cell phone is nice. What I see as a problem is cell phones today are more than a phone that just makes a phone call. Today's cell phones can have internet and texting. How much of this do you allow your child to have? Once again, I think it comes down to your child and your pocket book whether or not they have access to the 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.

I highly recommend you 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 daughters no using the phone to call anyone before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m.

In today's society cell phones are becoming the norm for kids, as a parents we need to   make sure before we give our children a cell phone, they are responsible, trustworthy and able to handle it.


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