- Family and Parenting
Is Your Child Ready for a Cellphone
Has your child asked for a cellphone? Have you noticed other kids the same age, or younger, toting around their own mobile? Deciding if your child is responsible enough for their own phone isn't always easy. If you are like me, it's something you haven't given a lot of thought about, that is until you have to.
Is My Child Ready?
Age and level of responsibility aren't all you must take into account. There is also the factor of need. As children grow and mature they are going to be away more. The ability to get in contact with them at a moments notice is important to consider. It's very comforting knowing they can reach you in case of emergencies.
When my 5th grader asked me if he could get a cellphone I was completely unprepared. In all honesty I'd never given it a thought. I was much older than him when I got my first cellphone, old enough that I was working and paying for it myself. It wasn't much of an issue when I was growing up. I certainly couldn't call my mom up for advice on this one.
Honestly, my immediate gut reaction was NO WAY! This was the same boy who couldn't be bothered to pick up his own socks, or keep track of his backpack. On the other hand knowing he could reach me at a moments notice in case of an emergency was a comforting thought. In the end we decided 11 years old was a bit too young for a phone, at least for him.
The answer can't be determined simply by age. Much of it has to do with you own child's level of maturity and responsibility. Also important to consider is exactly how much time they are away from you.
The best input you can get about the decision isn't from the web, or trusted friends, but from your child them self. Ask them why they want a cellphone. If that answer is because a friend has one, they have awesome games or they are simply 'cool', then it might be wise to wait. Spending money on what amounts to a status symbol for your kid is probably a waste of hard earned dollars. I personally think it also sends a bad message. Also inquire about what they are willing to do to earn the phone. If the suggestion of added chores causes them to turn up their nose, chances are this was a spur of the moment request. His inability to keep track of things was a big factor in our decision. If he can misplace something as large as a backpack, how will he ever keep track of something as small as a cellphone?
If you do decide to take the plunge, consider what features you want available to your child when making the purchase. You might consider restricting texting and websurfing, at least in the beginning. Preprogam emergency numbers and family contacts for accessibility. If you already have a family cell plan consider adding them to it. Many providers offer plans that allow flexible control over time usages and browsing limits.
Even if you child is way to young for a cellphone, it's not a terrible idea to start thinking ahead. Be prepared for when they come asking, and they will. It will probably be a lot sooner than you anticipated.