It seems like children are getting cell phones at younger and younger ages today. As a parent, you're probably asking yourself, "Is my child ready for their first phone?" While only you can answer that question for your child, there are a few things to keep in mind when making this all-important decision.
Does your child need a way to stay connected with you? Parents whose children spend a significant amount of time away from home are more apt to give in to the "need" for a cell phone sooner than those with children who don't. If your child has a long walk to and from school, or if your child spends a lot of time with friends, it might be a good idea to start considering allowing him or her to have a cell phone.
Respect is a huge factor in allowing your child to have a cell phone. Does your daughter take care of her other personal belongings? Does your son have to be constantly reminded to put away his video games when he's finished playing them? It's important to emphasize that a cell phone is a privilege that needs special care. Finding it thrown on the floor amidst other clutter in your child's room isn't acceptable. In addition, your child needs to be able to understand and accept the limitations you place on the cell phone. Outlining your time restraints ahead of time will let him or her know what to expect.
When your child does get a cell phone, the urge to download every "cool" app there is will be hard to resist. It will also be tempting to spend a lot of time on the Internet and on social networks. Making sure your child understands how to safely use the phone is crucial. Does your daughter know how much information is safe to give her friends or post on Facebook? Does your son know which websites are off limits?
Once your child can verbalize these key points to you with complete understanding, you might consider allowing him or her to have a cell phone. However, it must be something that you are completely comfortable with doing. Periodically reviewing the rules with your child and having open discussions about appropriate cell phone use and safety is absolutely necessary to make the transition a positive one for you both.