Every year, it seems as though children are being given cell phones at a younger age. There are even lines of cell phones made specifically for young children. However, I don’t know if I feel comfortable yet giving my younger kids a cell phone. The monthly cell phone bill is high enough with just my husband and I on it, and I can only imagine that havoc that two kids, who will surely be excited about text messaging and Facebook, will wreak on that bill.
So when is it appropriate to give your kid a cell phone? I definitely want my kids to have one when they start driving, whether or not they get smart phones or prepaid phones is still up for debate, but I realize that choosing the right time for your kid to get a cell phone is a personal decision. A good way to determine whether or not your child is ready for a cell phone is by asking yourself a few poignant questions, including: What Does Your Child Need a Cell Phone For? If your child is in elementary school, they most likely don’t need a cell phone. When they aren’t with you, they are most likely either at school or day care, and both places are inappropriate for cell phone use. However, if your child is older and participates in numerous extracurricular activities, a cell phone might not be a bad idea. It’ll help coordinate rides and allow your child to keep you posted on where they are at. Does Your Child Understand the Value of a Dollar?
One of my biggest concerns with giving my children cell phones is the cost. I’m afraid that they won’t understand how expensive it is to own a cell phone, and run up the bill. Before giving your kid a cell phone make sure they understand that every call, text, and bit of data used counts and has a dollar value. Many parents are actually choosing to get their kids prepaid phones so that they can both restrict their child from overspending and allow their child to learn a lesson in responsibility. Is Your Child Mature Enough? If your child isn’t old enough to understand cell phone etiquette, then they aren’t ready for a cell phone. Asking yourself whether or not your child is mature enough for a cell phone will require you to be very honest with yourself, but ultimately you know best. If you think that your child will gab non-stop on the phone, text in class, and call friends at all hours of the night, then you know that they shouldn’t receive a cell phone.
However, if your child has shown that they can effectively balance their school work and social life, then a cell phone may be okay. Deciding when to get your child a cell phone is never easy. It seems that whether they are 6 or 16, they all want one. However, as a parent, it’s our decision to call when the time is right. For mine, it won’t be until high school. But who knows, with the growth in technology, I may just have to send my 6th grader to class next year with a smart phone to even be allowed to enroll.