Even though it is still summer, the new school year is nearly here. As many parents take their children shopping for new supplies and clothing, some may be wondering if this is the year to buy their child his or her own cell phone. There are a number of things to consider before opting for that cell phone plan for a child, and parents should keep the teen or pre-teen’s safety in mind before the purchase.
What will the child use it for?
Many parents struggle with the decision to get their child a phone, and it doesn’t help when the little one is begging for a cell phone because all of their friends have one. One of the first things a parent should consider is what the teen or pre-teen will use the phone for – to call in case of emergencies, their friends or to have their parent pick them up at a certain time.
Some parents think it is a good idea to get their child a cell phone because of the GPS locator, as this allows them instant access to the teen’s whereabouts.
In order to keep them from abusing their cell phone privileges, parents can opt out of certain features including the internet. This way, the child simply uses the phone to contact family and friends when necessary, according to PhillyBurbs.com.
Sign a “contract”
The parents who feel their child is ready may want to write a few rules down for both the child – and the parent – to remember, according to ChicagoNow. Not only does this outline everything a teen needs to know about staying safe while using the phone, but it jump-starts a conversation. This is a perfect time to talk about avoiding numbers they do not know as well as discussing cyberbullying. According to BullyingStatistics.org, more than half of adolescents have been bullied while online or on their mobile device, and approximately the same number has participated in the bullying.
Contracts are also a good idea because if a teen ever goes against what is written, the parent can take the child’s phone privileges away immediately. One way to keep track of what a child is doing while on their cell phone is to implement parental monitoring software. If a child knows their parents are keeping tabs on them, he or she may be more likely to behave.