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When Should You Buy Your Child a Cell Phone?

Published Jun 23rd 2008, 6:54pm by Patty Streeter in Featured Articles

894547782_a7b57f6473_m We all worry about our kids when we’re not with them. It’s second nature for a parent. So what’s the best way to keep track of them when they’re carpooling with someone else, going on a school trip, or just at a party? It’s probably a cell phone.

Kids are asking for cell phones at younger and younger ages. Seventy two percent of 13 - 17 year olds now have cell phones, according to a recent wireless industry study. Verizon Wireless offers tips for parents who aren’t sure if their child is ready - and it starts with tween and teen behavior.

“The first cell phone is a big responsibility for a young person,” said John Palmer, regional president of Verizon Wireless. Palmer offered some key tips for parents thinking about buying a cell phone for their child:

  1. Fordedge2008 Does your child behave responsibly at home? Are chores done as asked? Homework completed on time? Do they obey rules that you set down for them?
  2. Set rules up front. Set clear expectations for how and when your child will use a phone. This gives them the tools to make good decisions. Here are some suggested guidelines:
    • Only answer calls or texts from people you know.
    • Always answer if Mom or Dad calls, so they know you’re okay. (If your teen is of driving age, you’ll want to emphasize safety first. Give them a set number of time, say 10 minutes, in which to return your call. Have them pull over to call you.)
    • Turn the phone off at a set time at home, so family time is preserved and there’s no texting late into the night (boy, do we know about this one in our household!).
  3. Prepay can be a good “first phone” option. It offers controls for you, so you don’t get surprised with a huge bill the first month your child has a phone.

Verizon offers prepay options, as do other carriers. As your kids get older and start spending more time away from you, it’s natural that you’ll want to know that they’re safe. Always emphasize responsibility and safety when they use their phone, especially in an auto.

Do your kids have a cell phone? How old were they when you got one, or how old will they be when you give them one?

iPhone image: robertnelson on Flickr.
Ford Edge: courtesy of Ford.

Becky_headshot By Becky Scott
Contributing Editor

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