The world today is very different than it was 15 years ago. When I was a teen, the only people who could afford cellphones were prominent businessmen and celebrities. My, oh my, how things have changed. Cellphones are no longer for simple phone calls. Now you can send messages and pictures, surf the Web, listen to music and, of course, download piles and piles of apps. So with all this technology, how are you to work with your pre-teen and teen children and this “necessity”? (This is, of course, according to your child.) Below are a few tips on kids and cellphones and what they need to know.
Ask your child why they “need” a cellphone. Is it for practical reasons or is it a peer pressure thing? I get that all kids want to fit in; however, what will the cost be? Ask your child about alternatives and what would happen if they do not have a cellphone.
Having a cellphone can be a HUGE responsibility. If your children cannot go more than a week without losing their mittens or their school backpack, how are they going to manage to keep track of a phone? In their minds, what is a simple mistake can lead to a several-hundred-dollar mistake.
Ask your kids what they are planning on using their cellphone for. Is it for maintaining contact with friends and family, or is it to do more than that? Talk to them about limits and what exactly they can do with their phone. Having rules about phones is not unreasonable and lets them know that a phone is not a right, but a privilege.
Talk to them about monitoring. Having random and/or set check in’s on their phone is not a bad thing. Their phone can contain lots of information about the type of person they are. It has often been said that our character is shaped in private. Your children are at the age when their character is still being formed and directed by parents.
As we all know, nothing is free, and cellphones are no exception to this rule. Ask your child about how and who will be paying the bills. This is a great opportunity to teach your child about budgeting and how to manage plans and contacts.
Be ready to model cellphone behavior. Let your children see how to properly use a cellphone and respect this privilege. Remember that you are your child’s greatest influencer … no matter what you are doing.
These are just a few tips to consider when/if this topic comes up in your family. Be ready to have this tough talk with them about what is right for them and who they want to become.
What cellphone rules do you set for your children? Please share your thoughts on kids and cellphones in the comments section below!