Cell phone for kids. Pros and cons. #kidsthesedays

Lucas is 3 and he knows exactly what a cell phone is for (in the basic sense of it), how to unlock it and he also knows that my wife’s iPhone is a lot more fun than my (very) old sony-ericsson. I’m sure he’ll start asking for his own cell phone by age six. And from that point on it will be a matter of time until he gets it. I’m predicting we’ll give in when he’s eleven.

It’s very funny to think that when I was eleven I could only dream of phones fitting the palm of my hand and being carried everywhere. Texting, web-browsing, mp3 player weren’t even part of my phone of the future ideas. But times change fast, very fast and I would be stupid to think that it’ll be possible to keep my sons from having their own phones for too long. When is the right time to do it then?

Well, the good thing is that nowadays phone companies offer an array of products and services directed to children (and their parents). You can add a line to your plan for a very low price (sometimes even for free) and you can limit what that new line can and cannot do. All of that can and must be done by you. I’m not 100% sure but I believe you can control every detail of your kids phone line at the cell phone company’s website and if not just ask the salesperson when you purchase the device.

Some things to consider before getting your child a cell phone:

Security:

  • On the positive side, some kiddie cell phones have parental controls. For example, the Firefly cell phone requires a parent to use a PIN number to enter the phone numbers that the child will be able call.
  • Some phones come with a GPS system to help parents find out the whereabouts of their kids.
  • Even the fact of phones having cameras can be a security factor. There’s been cases of kids scaring away pervs by taking their picture.
  • On the flip side, older teens can take advantage of web-enabled phone to check out sites they shouldn’t be visiting.

Cost:

About two years ago a teenage girl from Wyoming shocked her parents with a phone bill of over $4.7 thousand dollars. $4,756.25 to be more specific. And you probably guessed it right, most of it came from the over 10,000 text messages the 13-year old sent to her BFFs. For whatever reason her parents decided not to get an unlimited text plan, and thought texting was disabled on their daughter’s phone.

Like I mentioned before on my post about teenage rebelliousness, teens tend to find ways to please their friends and fit in as a path to freedom from parental control. It’s just the way it is. But there are some things you can do to avoid being huge bills for your kid’s phone:

Search  and ask for all the options to control the costs.

Unlimited texting and browsing if that’s the way you want go. Remember that this can interfere with your kid’s academic success.

Pre-established texting and calling limits for that line. That’s the way I would go. You can either choose a pre-paid plan or ask if your phone provider has a “hybrid” family plan to adapt to the usage limits you want for your kid.

But no matter what it’s still your job to teach your kid’s how to responsibly manage  his phone usage. And make sure you hold him accountable for breaking the rules. Take the phone away the first time and every time a rule is broken and you’ll be helping your child learn a very valuable lesson about responsibility, trust and financial conscience.

Cheers,

~Gil

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Posted on September 7, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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