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Your child wants a Cell Phone - Should kids be given a cell phone?

BY: Jessica | Category: Relationships | Post Date: 2009-08-19

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Cell phones have become so common that even kids going to the school now demand for their own personal cell phone. Lets face it, your son or daughter just demanded for a cell phone, so what should you do? To give them a personal cell phone or not, is a confusion that every parent goes through. The main rationale kids give to their parents are Personal safety, Ability to tell parents about the change of their plans, All his/her friends have it and many kids rudely say "I am big enough to have my own cell phone". Don't reply them "I never had a cell phone in my childhood, then why do you want?", do understand that the times have changed since your own childhood.

Before you go ahead and reply them without proper thinking, I suggest you to read my view point which will possibly help you come to a proper conclusion.

1. Cell phone for Safety:
Frankly, I think this is a very genuine point. Kids do get into trouble often, also there are all sort of bad people who may try to harm kids emotionally or sexually and having a cell phone in these situations is a blessing. So if your son or your daughter has demanded a cell phone for the purpose of security, do listen their side too. They might actually be feeling threatened by somebody and just a bit hesitant to tell you. Talk to your kids and understand why they think they need a cell phone now, has anything changed in their life in the last few months.

2. To notify parents about their changed plans:
Kids unexpectedly change their minds without always letting their parents know about it, leaving parents worried and waiting for them to return home. Using a cell phone your kids can notify you regarding change of plans, or may be if they have a cell phone they can seek your permission before deciding for themself. Even parents can call their kids and ask them to come home early because of 'some' reason.

3. All their friends have it:
Frankly, I think this is not the reason that kids should ever be given a cell phone. Take this opportunity to talk to your son or your daughter that they should not get influenced with whatever others do. Explain them that it is not advisable to follow "herds behavior" in life.

4. I have grown up,now I want my own cell phone:
Not all grown ups have a cell phone, so that is a silly argument. They probably mean that they are mature enough how to use a cell phone properly and maturely.

5. Kids use cell phone for Show-off or Style:
This is usually the #1 reason why kids usually need a cell phone. They simply want to feel proud that they have a cell phone and show-off their friends this latest toy they have. Their purpose might be to impress other girls/boys in the school.

6. Read about Google Latitude:
Google latitude is a free service that can help parents to keep track of children when they are out. To protect privacy, Google specifically requires people to sign up for the service. You may like it.

BOTTOM LINE: Should you give cell phone to your kid or not.
YES, you should. But I will do these things to ensure that kids do not misuse it.

1. Give them an un-cool phone:
Give them a phone which only has the most basic feature, i.e. Only to make a phone call. No camera, no web surfing, no style etc.. This will discourage your kid to take their cell phone out in front of other kids only for 'style'. But they will still be able to use it in an emergency or to call you if needed. They will likely keep their un-cool cell phone in their pocket or bag and use it only when it's really needed.

2. Prepaid phone:
Kids usually do not understand the importance of using things in a restricted manner. Talking on cell phone can soon become their next hobby and you clearly you do not want that. Long conversations and text messaging can leave you with some pretty huge bills. Fix a monthly budget (say $10 a month), they will be forced to make short and to the point conversations. This attitude of rationing / budgeting will actually be an important lesson for your kids. A prepaid phone will also shield you from surprisingly big cell phone bills. Some cell phones companies provide parental controls where you can limit the usage of childs cell phone, explore those options.

3. Shortcut numbers:
Almost all phones have facility to store frequently used numbers as short cuts (Ex: 1+#+Talk can dial home phone, 2+#+Talk can dial your cell phone, 3+#+Talk can dial your closest relative phone etc..) . Kids often forget numbers in a state of shock or when they are in trouble. Creating these shortcuts will add to their safety.

4. Tell them to be still responsible:
Having a cell phone does not mean they can be careless about their safety. They need to ensure that their cell phone is kept charged and maintained in a good condition. Threaten them that if they miss too many calls from you or your spouse, their cell phone may be taken back. They need to turn off the volume of their cell phone when they are at school or other places where a ringing cell phone is considered a bad habit. Practice voice messaging and text messaging with your child. Explain them very clearly, that in order for them to keep using the cell phone, they need to use it properly. As your children grow up and you feel confident that they have been using their cell phone cautiously, give them an upgrade.

If you still think that your kid does not need a cell phone then have a brave heart to tell them "NO". These days parents spoil their kids by saying "Yes" to everything, so take a sensible decision and not just an emotional one.

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