Parents who are consistently concerned about the safety and whereabouts of their children are now more often than not opting to purchase cellphones for their kids. There are numerous inexpensive options out there, many of which can be purchased at a budget price thanks to a Kohls coupon or other special offers, so it’s not a problem. How does a parent know when their child is old enough to be trusted with a cellphone of their very own, though?
Benefits and Drawbacks
The benefits that come with giving your child a cellphone are undeniable, but there are several drawbacks as well. Having the ability to reach out to your child and text or call when you want to know where they are or what they are doing is great for a parent’s peace of mind.
The child will also enjoy having a cellphone, as it gives them a valuable opportunity to fit in with their friends. However, there are certain risks involved. Parents must establish ground rules when allowing their children to use their own cellphone.
First and foremost, the phone should be taken away at bedtime. Think about how often we stay awake texting and talking on the phone as adults. Even though we know we will be tired for work in the morning, it doesn’t stop us in the slightest. Now imagine a teenager who only has a few hours of school to contend with each day. The temptation to stay awake and text is often too difficult to resist.
Teens with cellphones who own a car place themselves at greater risk by texting while driving. Some studies have even shown that talking on the phone, even with a hands free device, impairs driving as much as alcoholic beverages do.
So when does a parent know if their child is ready?
There is no set age limit to when a child should or should not be given a cellphone. Parents must first set a great example with their own mobile usage. If your child sees you driving and texting, staying awake late at night to text and talk and constantly glued to the Internet, they will follow the same patterns.
Look at the developmental traits of your child. Do they normally go out with their friends, without you? Are they consistently on the move? A child who is developing a life of their own, outside of their parents’, is a child who needs a cellphone far more than one whose parents still take them most places.
Ultimately, it is up to the parent to consider the needs of their child and provide for them. Every child wants a cellphone of their own, but very few children truly need one.
Should a parent decide to buy a phone for their child, they must set the ground rules early and stick to them. A basic phone (meaning no data plan) with established time limits, in conjunction with setting a proper example, goes a long way towards ensuring you and your child’s experience with cellphones is a positive one!