Kids and cell phones is a topic that is brought up often, especially if you have a school-aged child. Younger kids don’t bring it up much as older elementary kids. It is brought up by kids and parents alike. As a parent, trying to make the best decision for your kids, it can be hard to weed through everything. The questions of what type of phone is best, what limits should be set and of course, when is the right age are some of the more common questions you hear.
When is the Best Time to Give My Child a Mobile Phone
What Age is Best?
There honestly isn’t any single perfect age to give a child a mobile phone. I’m sure that wasn’t the answer you came here looking for, just bear with me. I believe that each child has their own ‘perfect age’. There are certain preconditions that need to be met before I hand a phone over to my child.
What Preconditions Should be Met?
The first and most important thing, is that your child is responsible enough to keep track of the phone. If your child is consistently misplacing things, then now is not the time to give your child a phone.
How often is your child with their friends? Not many homes have landlines anymore so it may be a bit harder for your child to get ahold of you. Plus, if their group of friends moves from one place to another frequently it will be easier to get ahold of you if they have their own phone.
Is your child in sports or clubs after school or during the summer? How often do they travel with their teams? If their teams are traveling fairly frequently a phone may help your child communicate with you much easier (especially since payphones aren’t a thing anymore either).
If you are busy running multiple kids places, your child having a mobile phone can open your lines of communication. If you are running late you will easily be able to tell them so they aren’t sitting and panicking since you aren’t there yet.
It is important that the boundaries be set before you give your child the mobile phone. If you wait until after, the rules may not fully sink in due to the excitement.
Knowing the Rules
If you feel it may be time to get your child a phone, I suggest sitting down and talking about the rules several times before you actually buy it. Make sure they understand when they are to use it, what their text/data limits are (if they get data) and general rules.
When are They Able to Use it?
Are they allowed to use it anytime or just emergencies? Is it just to call you or can they call other friends and family too?
Texting and Data
If they are going to be able to text or use a data plan explain to them the importance of sticking within their allotted amounts.
Decide if you want your child to be able to take their phone into their rooms at night or, if it is to be left somewhere else in the house. Be sure they are clear on this choice and it’s consequences if they don’t follow it.
What Type Phone is Best?
There are prepaid phones where you buy minutes on a phone card, prepaid lines that can be linked to your phone or, just an additional line linked to yours. One of our favorite options is the Tracfone setup because the minutes don’t expire on a set date. So, if they don’t use much this month, they will carry over to the next month.
If you are concerned about your child staying within their limits a prepaid phone is a way to go. If that isn’t a big concern for you, then adding another line to your existing plan may be the best choice. There are several options out there, this one simply boils down to your preferences as a parent.
Take the time to weigh the positives and negatives of giving your child a phone. Make sure everyone is on the same page and set the rules in advance. Deciding to give your child a phone is a pretty big step for you and an exciting one for them. Whenever you decide is right for you and your child is the best possible age to give your child a phone.