Children with cell phones seem to be getting younger and younger. It’s difficult to know if and when you should buy your child one. This article outlines 6 rules to think about before buying your child a cell phone.
1. He doesn’t just want one, he needs one
If your child participates in a lot of activities and is running here and there after school and on weekends, a cell phone isn’t the worst idea. Pay phones are no longer easy to find. If you have a child who isn’t into activities, but is always home with the family, the need for a cell phone is little to none. To children, a cell phone is just a fun toy they can use to keep in touch with friends day and night. They don’t understand the cost and responsibility. For a child who simply wants to talk to friends on the phone, the land line is adequate.
2. He takes on responsibility at home
If a child is old enough to have a cell phone, he is old enough to be helping out around the home. He should have daily chores that he does not just to manipulate a cell phone out of you, but that he’ll do consistently a few months before acquiring the cell phone. You and your child should also sit down and write out a contract about what happens if he breaks the contract by quitting his chores. He has to know that he won’t be allowed to keep his cell phone if he breaks his end of the deal.
3. He must answer when you call
Your child having a cell phone is first and foremost so that you can get in touch with him anytime you need to. If he begins to ignore your calls and worry you, this is a definite cell phone deal breaker. A cell phone doesn’t give him freedom to be away from you completely and only connected to his friends.
You don’t want to raise a child who can’t be away from his cell phone for 5 minutes, so set limitations on the cell phone. When he’s home, it should be off for dinner time and also at a decent hour each night. It’s probably a smart idea if he doesn’t keep the cell phone in his room at night because children are sneaky and will talk even after you tell them not to.
5. Start at the bottom
Don’t start your child out with an expensive Smartphone. Begin small with a cheaper cell phone that comes with an inexpensive plan to see how your child does following the rules. If he respects the cell phone and the rules, he can move up as he gets older. It’s good for children to have something to look forward to and work toward. If they are handed things for nothing, they won’t appreciate them as much.
6. He must respect the rules of school
It’s not enough that your child respects your rules regarding the cell phone. He must also respect the rules the school sets. If the school says the cell phone must remain off during school hours or in the locker during classes, make sure your child understands these rules. Many kids brag about how the sneak around these rules and think it’s okay. Don’t forget to teach your child proper cell phone etiquette when out in public also.
Buying your child a cell phone is a big decision. It’s not something to leap into without thinking about the responsibilities connected to having one. Remember that a child having a cell phone is a privilege and not a right, and he should see it the same way.
Sam Jones, the author, has been investigating mobile phone deals for his family.