When should you buy your child a cell phone? As a parent it is a difficult thing to know when you should give your child a cell. Many think that they are indulgences, while others may see them as a necessity. When you give your child a cell phone is a personal decision, but here are some things to consider in helping you make this choice:
1. How old is your child? The age of your child should play a role in when to get them a cellular phone. Obviously different ages bring on different responsibilities. A four year old has no use of a cell phone, whereas a sixteen year old may use it too much. When your child gets older, it can be nice for them to have a private means of communication, as long as they can respect the rules attached to it (such as no texting during school hours, not going over their allotted minutes, etc.) When a child starts driving, it can be good for them to have a phone, as you won’t be with them as much. Of course, a phone can also be a driving hazard, so talking to them about the rules are a big part of it. Cell phones are best for tween and teens, based on their maturity, and ability to follow the regulations you place with a cell phone.
2. How many activities do they have away from the home? If your child is very active away from home, a cell phone acts much like a safety precaution, and thus getting it for, say, a younger child, may not be a bad idea. Of course, if you are aware of the times and places that everything is going, then it is not as necessary. For example, if your son has soccer Tuesday and Thursday from 10-11, you can know to drop them off and pick them up. However, if they have an outing with friends, like they are going to the pool, and aren’t sure when they will be done, it can be a real advantage for them to have a cell phone to call you with. If your child is involved in a lot of things, and is away from the house a lot, then a cell phone is a good idea, regardless of their age.
3. Are you divorced? Do they spend time at two different houses? When kids have divorced parents, and spend time in two different homes, having a cell phone can be an important part of making them feel safe. Thus, while you may not typically get a ten year old a cell phone, a ten year old that spends weekends at their dad’s house, may need one so that they can communicate with the parent, and be able to call the other parent if they need to be picked up, etc.
4. Will they be able to follow the rules you give them? Cell phones have to come with rules. These rules include the proper use at school. They include talking while driving. They include minutes usage. They include what kind of behavior is used with the phone (sexting, harassment, etc. all can be problems when kids have cells). If your child is old enough to responsibly follow the rules, they are old enough to get a cell phone.