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When Should You Give Your Child Their First Cell Phone?

by TerriAnn

When should you give your child their own cell phone? That seems to be a hot topic these days and one my family has been facing. Since my daughter turned 10 she has been away from us more often on sleepovers, at extra classes, etc. We activated an older iPhone we had for her. Based on our experience, here are some things you may want to consider.

Before handing them a mobile phone, it is a good idea to first see if they can handle it. How consistent they are with always having their wallet or purse? Do they often leave it at home or misplace it? Just in case, you might want to start them with an extra phone you might have or a really cheap one.

Turn off most location services including the geo-tagging on pictures taken. Talk to them about not giving out their number too easily and not accepting calls from numbers they do not recognize. “Find My iPhone” is a great (iPhone) app that we use for many things, not just to spy on each other.

Parent Permissions
Many newer phones have the option to input a master code to lock certain features. We chose to turn off internet access, email, in-app purchases, and installing apps. Also, adding your child to your family plan can give you access to the numbers they call or text if needed.

You will need to set limits, especially with games. This is little piece of hardware can be the single worst culprit to procrastination, hindering of family communication, and basically doing anything productive. If you do not set limits, you will be regretting it after a few weeks – trust me.

Protection can be misunderstood as restrictive and caution can be perceived as mistrust. So open, candid conversation is very important for both parties. Adjustments are constantly being made but, so far, giving my daughter a cell phone has worked out very well for us.

*Originally written as a guest post for Tammy’s Two Cents (href=”http://www.tammystwocents.com/?p=4850) which is now defunct.

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blueviolet @ A Nut in a Nutshell August 24, 2011 - 8:22 am

I’m gonna go read it!

Cookies & Clogs August 24, 2011 - 11:25 am


Jeri August 24, 2011 - 8:51 am

This was definitely a conundrum for us when Drue was in so many activities that we became reliant on carpools and her own steam to get her from place to place. We wanted her to have a phone but she refuses to carry a purse (I don’t like carrying one either), leaves her wallet at home and is often putting things down at random and forgetting about them. So we got her a $19.99 AT&T Go phone with no games, bells or whistles, gave her a minutes plan and gave her a year to earn some trust. She really wanted a smart phone and worked hard to stay within her minutes, kept her phone on her person and treat her phone with respect. After 8 months, we added a texting plan and put some requirements and guidelines around it and 6 months after she made her case for a smart phone. She paid for half of it (we pay all of her plan) and has shown a lot of maturity in using it. I was really glad we took this cell phone business in baby steps. For us, it was definitely the right thing to do.

Cookies & Clogs August 24, 2011 - 11:26 am

Good job on taking it slow. She’ll be so much better prepared in taking responsibility of other things in the future too. Good job, mommy!

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