How to Tell if Your Child is Ready for a Cell Phone
So, your kid wants a cell phone – or maybe you want them to have one for peace of mind. Either way, there are several things to consider before making the leap!
Getting your child a cell phone is super convenient for you, and for them. If they’re at a friend’s house and you don’t want to bother the friend’s parents, just send your kid a quick text making sure everything is okay. If baseball practice is going to run later than usual, your child can text or call you to let you know. There are many situations that your older child will be in, especially, in which a cell phone would be useful.
If your child is still in elementary school, a cell phone is most likely not a necessity – but that doesn’t mean that your child won’t want one. Weigh the pros and cons – they’re different for each family – and decide if it’s something you want to get them. The younger the child, the more restrictions you’ll want to put on the phone. You don’t want them up texting all night!
Questions to Ask
Is your child alone, or without adult supervision often? If so, they most likely need a cell phone for emergency use. Use beyond that would need to be discussed and budgeted for.
Is your child responsible? How responsible is your child? Are they going to lose the phone within the first 48 hours of owning it? Are they going to let their friends call China and run up your bill?
How’s their attitue? Are they doing well in school? Is their behavior on point? Cell phones for emergency use only shouldn’t be tied to behavior, but most cell phones end up being texting/calling/game phones, so it’s something to think about.
Does your child know about cell phone etiquette? No phone use during school hours, no calling/texting at all hours of the night, no talking on the phone while ordering their food at a restaurant, etc.
Does your child listen to you? If you tell them not to download apps that cost money, or inappropriate apps, are they going to listen? Of course you can’t know for sure, but your child’s previous behavior will give you some clue.
Things to Keep in Mind
If you’re going to purchase a pre-paid service plan, make sure you let your child know up front how many texts, calls, etc he or she can send each month. Pre-paid plans get pricey, quickly. If you’re going to add them to your current contract service plan, make sure they know the rules about no data usage or at least not going over the data you allow them to use. Also, set up alerts on your phone so you know if they’re nearing their limits.
While places like Firefly offer cell phones designed for kids, most kids these days know how to work the average cell phone – so adding your child to your service plan will probably save you money in the long run. For example, if you add a line to your AT&T contract, it’s $9.99. Add internet, unlimited texting, etc and it’s $30 each month, but you also get a free (or super inexpensive) phone. With pre-paid services like T-Mobile Family through Walmart, you’ll be paying $50(ish) a month for unlimited everything, but you have to shell out $100 or more for a decent phone. Keep all of these expenses in mind when making your cell phone decisions.
One last thing to keep in mind when your child does get their first cell phone – according to statistics, over 25% of kids have been bullied with cell phone calls or texts. Add that to the amount of cyber bullying that takes place every day, and you might think twice about ever wanting your kid to have a cell phone. Talk to them about safe cell phone use, and when to come to you if there is a problem.
If you’re still not sure if your child is ready for a cell phone or not, consider taking this quiz from SheKnows!
Did you enjoy this post? Find more money saving tips here.