Parenting Corner: Kids and Cell Phones

parenting corner copyWhen should kids get cell phone? More importantly, when should kids have access to a smart phone? This is one of the issues that plague, divide, and keep parents up at night.

We’ve convinced ourselves that cell phones are a necessity. In some ways they are since pay phones are a rarity these days. If your child is going to be somewhere and there will be no phone access, a cell phone does seem prudent.

You can’t rely on their peers to have phones. It’s rude to use their minutes, run up their bills, and so on.

Still…does your child need a phone? When is the proper age to provide one?

The new FiLIP device for four- to eight-year-olds seems a little over the top. It’s a cellphone/watch/GPS device so you can keep tabs on your young child. I would wonder why you would need this, since keeping tabs on kids this young should already be something you should be doing. But if you have an extra $200 you might want to check into it.

We got Aaron the most basic cell phone available. It makes phone calls and texts. It has no internet access at all. I wish it didn’t have a camera, but they don’t offer phones without cameras. Too bad, since teen bullying seems to center around photos and videos. Also, without cameras sexting would never be an issue.

Giving a pre-teen or a teenager a smartphone definitely has some pitfalls. On Facebook recently, a teacher was discussing boys accessing pornography on a smartphone during recess. This is something that any child could do with any internet access, but a smartphone simply makes it easier to hide what they are doing.

There is also the potential for excess charges being made to your cellphone account when apps or ringtones are downloaded. Some accounts allow you to make passwords a requirement before every purchase. Take it from someone who knows, check what your kid can do before you get the bill!

In the end, each parent has to weigh the pros and cons. You know your child best. But it pays to understand that a smartphone is a powerful tool and there can be serious repercussions from its misuse. Teenagers are notorious for making poor decisions, that’s why parents are there to back them up.


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