Top 5 Things to Consider Before Buying Your Child a Cell Phone

cell phone

The cell phone debate goes on in millions of homes across the country. When a child is ready for a phone is perhaps the biggest discussion in families about cell phones. With children asking for and receiving phones at younger and younger ages many parents question exactly what they need to do before they give their child a cell phone. Cell phone monitoring, cell phone models and even when your child is ready, should all factor into the decision.

1. 1. The Magic Age of Maturity

Many parents wonder when the right time to give a child a cell phone is. There is no magic age. Your child’s maturity must factor into the decision. There are 12 year old children who are mature enough to handle a cell phone, and there are 15 year old children who are not mature enough to handle a cell phone. Consider your child, their personality, and their responsibility level before unlocking the keys to a cell phone. You may also consider your own lifestyle in this decision. For example if you work and your child is home alone, a cell phone is probably necessary sooner than if you were home to meet your child after school. You must also consider your child’s personal needs as well. While a normal 8 year old may not need a phone, a child with a medical condition may need one earlier.

2. The type of Phone

While many kids like the idea of having a smartphone, in most cases it is not necessary for young children. Before buying a cell phone consider what you think your child really needs to be able to do with their phone. If the goal is an emergency cell phone, or one that can simply call and text a parent when the child reaches their destination, consider looking at traditional cell phones and forgoing the high end smartphones that have become the norm in society. A child of 13 needn’t have unlimited access to the internet. Rather, their cell phones should serve as a means of communication between child and parent. In these cases a traditional phone with the ability to call and text only is likely the best and safest bet, not to mention a cheap and affordable option. Pay-as-you go phones, for example, have become a safe choice for parents looking to equip their child with a phone, as the child can only use

3. Monitoring Options

If you’ve made the decision to place a smartphone in your child’s hands it is time to consider how you plan for cell phone monitoring. Text monitoring and phone monitoring software exists that allows a parent to install a program on the phone and monitor the incoming and outgoing messages via a web site. This allows a parent to handle their child’s communication and block users if the conversation is inappropriate. It is important to realize, before you purchase a child a phone, that not all manufacturers allow the use of this software. For example, Apple does not allow third-party cell phone monitoring. This means your child’s texts are safe from your prying eyes. If this is a massive concern and you’d like to be able to monitor your child’s text activity than Apple products should be off the table. Android phones, however, do allow these programs

4. Your Child’s Safety

Sure, a cell phone can be a wonderful thing. For many parents it offers a peace of mind when a child is alone, that cannot be gained any other way, but children don’t always realize how dangerous these devices can be. It is important for parents to seriously consider their child’s safety before purchasing a cell phone. Thankfully, along with cell phone monitoring, there are programs that allow parent to block potentially dangerous or inappropriate use of the phone. Blocking particular applications and web sites, is one way to keep your child from viewing inappropriate content. The best part is that each parent can customize their child’s experience based on the child’s age and the family’s moral beliefs.

5.  Laying down the Law

To prevent a serious argument between parent and child, it is important to lay down the rules of cell phone ownership before ownership is established. As the parent, it is your job to instate rules regarding the use of the phone. Perhaps you’d prefer the phone goes off after a certain hour, perhaps you believe the phone should only be used when out of the home. Whatever your personal rules are, lay them down and stick to them before handing over the phone.  By creating rules about cell phone use you’ll keep your sanity and your child’s safety intact.

Parenting has become increasingly more complicated with cell phones and computers. Read about how you can keep up with it all in our eBook! Download “Digital Parenting: The Essential Guide to Raising Connected Kids” now.

We are pleased to announce that Bark will be taking over where we leave off. The uKnowKids mission to protect digital kids will live on with Bark. Our team will be working closely with Bark’s team in the future, so that we can continue making the digital world a safer, better place for kids and their families. While we are disappointed we could not complete this mission independently, we are also pleased to hand the uKnowKids baton to Bark.
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