Although mobile phones have become an integral part of adult society today, no parent should be obligated to purchase a mobile for their child. Parents should take time to review the pros and cons of their children having a cell phone of their own and make wise decisions according to their personal situation. The following provides some guidelines you may want to consider when debating the cell phone issue with your child.
Depending on your children’s personal situation, a cell phone may be a necessity for additional security and protection. This does not mean, however, that acquiring a cell phone is a child’s right. Before purchasing a phone for your child, it would be good to discuss this aspect of cell phone ownership so that he has the right perspective concerning this product. You don’t want your child thinking that just because his best friend received a new iPhone for his 12th birthday, he has a right to receive the same. This kind of mentality indicates a lack of maturity on his part. Children and mobile phones don’t always go together well. Before deciding on the right age for a mobile, parents should take into consideration the mental and emotional maturity of their child.
As your children grow older, it is only natural for them to begin comparing various aspects of their life with their peers. This often includes ownership of contemporary gadgets such as cell phones, notebooks, iPods, etc. Cell phone ownership, however, should be more than just a step towards keeping up with your child’s circle of friends. When used correctly, a cell phone can be a valuable tool for keeping in touch with your kids and enhancing their security. When used improperly, these same devices can cause all kinds of problems and be a huge waste of money.
As a parent of an active older child, it is not uncommon to be concerned for his or her safety. When your children are small, i.e. preschool and kindergarten age, they are almost always in the company of a responsible adult, whether it is you or your spouse, another family member, school teacher, nanny, etc. As they grow into their middle years, 7 to 10 years old, they start to become more independent, walking or riding a bus to and from school on their own. This is a time where many parents begin to worry about the safety of their kids, especially if they have no way to keep in touch during the time they are away.
The preteen years (11-12) begin to add another dimension to a child’s life. Most preteens are involved in extracurricular activities that keep them away from home beyond school hours. They may join a sports team or club, take dancing or music lessons or simply spend more time with their friends. At this age, most parents recognize the importance of their children having a cell phone in order to get in touch with them if they have need.
By the time a child reaches adolescence, cell phone usage will be second nature to them. Approximately 85% of teenagers today age 14 to 17 have a mobile phone of their own. Some use the device maturely while others don’t. Teens that were taught to use a cell phone responsibly when they were younger may have fewer problems handling the device when they are older as compared to children who were given free rein with a mobile to do as they please.
1. Does your child really need a phone for security or does he want one merely for social reasons?
2. Can your child handle the responsibility of owning and caring for a mobile?
3. Is your child mature enough to use a mobile wisely?
4. Is your child willing to have restrictions placed on his mobile usage?
5. Can your child be trusted with a mobile device or will you need to be constantly monitoring his cell phone activities?
6. Will a mobile phone interfere with your child’s schooling, sleep and family responsibilities?
7. Will a mobile be more of a help to your child or a hindrance?
More on discovering What is the Right Age for a Mobile Phone
With today’s modern technology, cell phones have become much more than a device for mere communication. Contemporary mobiles can be used for making phone calls, checking emails, downloading information from the Internet, listening to music or audio files, playing games, watching movies, taking pictures, as location finding devices and more. Of course, not all phones come fully loaded with all of these applications and not all children need a phone that is capable of all these functions.
Younger children do not really need a phone with so many extras. For 8-10 year olds, a basic yet quality device will do. If you feel your child is capable of handling a cell phone, you can start him off on a simple design that serves the purpose of keeping in touch when he has need. In this way, you can test your child’s maturity by how he handles, uses and cares for this investment. As your child grows older into the preteen and younger teen age, you can always upgrade the phone according to his maturity level and individual need.
As your teen grows older, he may desire a smart phone with all the latest technology and perks. As a parent, you will need to discern whether a phone of this nature will be a benefit or detriment to his welfare. Advanced cell phone technology may be all the rage for teens today, but it’s not always the best – neither is the high cost. Many parents are open to buying their teen a quality device, but if he insists on the latest technology, they often suggest he pay for it on his own. This may help him think twice about what he really needs. At least it will make him value and care for his investment more.
There are definitely many benefits to your child having a cell phone, if he is mature enough to handle one. First, you will be able to keep in touch with your child and he with you at all times, wherever he may be. This can alleviate many fears you might have about his personal safety. Your children can communicate with you throughout the day, letting you know where they are, how they are, what they are doing, if they need help, etc. In the event of emergencies, your child can communicate with you immediately or you with him, to get the assistance he needs. Security is perhaps one of the main reasons parents purchase a cell phone for their children.
At the same time, parents cannot be blind to the detriments of cell phone ownership when making their decision. A child who lacks maturity may use a cell phone irresponsibly, texting friends during classes at school or late at night when he should be sleeping. If the phone has Internet connections, he may get on inappropriate sites or waste time surfing the Net. A cell phone could be a major distraction from home or school obligations.
For teens that drive, a cell phone may present a physical risk if used improperly. A teen that is calling or texting friends while he is driving can easily cause an accident. By being careless in who they give their number to, teens can be subject to prank calls in the middle of the night or threatening phone calls from potentially dangerous people. Yet another risk of cell phone usage is cyber bullying via texting or social media functions on the device. These are all factors that need to be taken into consideration when deciding the right age for your children to own a mobile.
Although age is one consideration, it is not always the most important factor to consider when it comes to owning a mobile phone. Maturity and a responsible nature are much more important qualities to look for in a child for mobile phone ownership and usage. Parents need to make sure their children will use this device safely and sensibly on their own before making an investment. It is easier to trust a child with a cell phone when you know he is generally obedient to your instructions and takes good care of his belongings. His obedience will make it easier to accept whatever restrictions you may place on cell phone usage. His diligence in taking care of his property will ensure the phone is not easily lost or broken.
One of the biggest tests for children with cell phones is allowing their parents to monitor its usage. If your older child or preteen is using his or her mobile properly, there should be no objections to your occasionally checking their text messages, tweets or Internet usage. Once your child reaches adolescence, he or she may resent cell phone monitoring as an invasion of privacy. These are matters you will need to work out with your teen in advance, especially if you are footing the bill for his mobile. You may need to come to a happy medium of trust and monitoring so that some manner of supervision is maintained.
Once you decide your child is ready for a mobile phone, set some ground rules from the beginning so that your child knows what to expect from having this privilege. Your rules may include:
· Setting limits on calls and texts by purchasing a plan.
· Designating times when the phone must be turned off, i.e. during school, meals, time for homework or after a certain hour at night.
· No sleeping with phones.
· No gossiping or sending disrespectful messages or calls.
· Never answer calls or texts from people they don’t know.
· For teens who drive, no phone usage when they are driving.
· Teens can also pay for their own phone usage.
By following these guidelines, you and your children stand a better chance of having a more pleasant and beneficial mobile phone experience. There’s no reason why the concept of children and mobile phones cannot work, if it is handled responsibly from the very start. Mobile phones can make communicating with your kids simpler and more convenient and can keep you well informed concerning their whereabouts and safety. Cell phones can also help your older kids, preteens and teens hone their communication and social skills as they keep in touch with other family members, friends and peers. and because of that, you need to find the answer to What is the Right Age for a Mobile Phone for your children.