If you’re considering a cell phone for your child think about the following:
Does your young child need a smart phone with Internet access? Do kids really need this level of technology? Mobile devices that are data plan and/or wifi enabled allow your child to connect to the Internet and all the risks that go with it. Choose age and developmentally appropriate technology. Start with a pre-paid plan that let’s you pay as you go; which lets you limit the amount of money spent monthly.
Pick up! Kids need to know that they must answer calls from you immediately. This is for your peace of mind and their safety. Follow the rules or lose the phone. There are now apps that will essentially shut down your child’s phone until they call home.
What’s the plan? Many parents experience sticker shock when they see their child’s phone bill. If it’s not a prepaid plan, make sure your kids understand their minute limits, texting limits, and the costs associated with extra minutes, texts, picture and video messaging.
Bullying! Text messaging is increasingly used by bullies to torment their victims. Cyber bullying is often used to send mean-spirited pictures and to spread damaging gossip. Make sure your kids understand that sending or forwarding inappropriate and mean-spirited text and images is a crime. Explain to your kids to only answer calls or text messages from people your kids know; let the rest go to voice mail. You can review these numbers and block the ones you don’t want.
Going to bed with a cell phone? This is a bad idea and can become a bad habit very quickly. Set up a central charging station in your home where all cell phones are charged and stored at night. Establish this routine early and don’t waver!
Mobile family values! What’s your policy on dinner table texting or talking on your cell phone? Are you guilty of texting your child during class hours? Talk to them about rules for public situations and rules for social and family settings, and then make your own list of house rules.