by Stacey Schifferdecker
If anyone had told me a few years ago that I would be getting a cell phone for my 13-year-old son, I would have laughed. Back then, I didn’t even have a cell phone myself and I saw no reason for young teens to have them. But guess what? When we renewed our plan back in April, we added our son to it and got him his own phone. He’s not much of a phone person and doesn’t use it that much. But now, if I get in caught in traffic on the way to pick him up from school, I can let him know. When he goes somewhere with the youth at church, he can call when he is on his way back so neither of us have to cool our heels waiting in the parking lot. So really, the phone is for me as much as, if not more, than for Kegan.
If you are considering getting a cell phone for your child, here are some factors to consider:
- Some cell phones made specifically for kids have parental controls. For example, they allow you to limit the phone numbers your child can call
- Some cell phones include a GPS device so you can track the whereabouts of your child
- Camera phones can provide some security. For example, if anyone bothers your child, she can take their photo to give to the police.
However, also consider that if your children have an Internet-enabled cell phone, you won’t be able to monitor what web pages they are accessing.
So should you get your child a cell phone? That really depends on your child:
- Is she responsible enough to take care of a phone – not lose it or abuse it?
- Is he responsible enough to follow the limits of the plan you choose and not go over in minutes?
- Is she responsible to follow your rules about who she can call and when?
- Is he responsible enough to follow his school’s rules about cell phone use?
- Does she really need one?
If you’re not sure whether your child is ready for a cell phone, you can consider getting a pre-paid cell phone plan, which will limit the number of minutes your child has. However, your most economical option is to add your child to your own plan and share minutes. If it turns out your child is not ready, you can always take the phone away.
Stacey Schifferdecker is the happy but harried mother of three school-aged children—two boys and a girl. She is also a freelance writer, a Children’s Minister, a PTA volunteer, and a Scout leader. Stacey has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and French and a Master’s degree in English. She has written extensively about parenting and education as well as business, technology, travel, and hobbies.
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