Your at the mall with your 10 and 7 year old. You get distracted and your youngest child has disappeared. Before you panic, you dial his cell phone and your relieved to find out he was distracted by display in the mall arcade window. Better yet your son has a GPS -equipped cell phone so even if he chooses to ignore Mom’s call you can track your straying child down.
This senario trumps most arguments for allowing even very small children to have cell phones.
Center on Media and Child Health Web site predicts that 54 percent of 8- to 12-year-olds will have a cell phone by 2012. Young children with cell phone present a unique problem for most parents because they will lose and break the phones. Also their overall concept of cost of texting or downloading music and games is more likely to be impaired than that of pre-teens. One can not expect the average nine year old to understand that they must have enough self control not to go over a certain amount of minutes or resist the opportunity to download a poplar game or song that someone will have to pay for when the bill comes.
These problems can be overcome if you choose a no frills free prepaid phone (Trac phones can be brought for under ten dollars) or pick plans that have unlimited texting or limited internet access. Pre-teens especially are becoming involved in some unsavory practices as Sexting ( sending or receiving provactive pictures on their phones). You may want to not provide a camera on a phone for your pre-teen. Phones have become a status symbol among older teens. Preteens just often do not possess emotional maturity to aviod peer pressure to misuse their phones in ways that they think make them appear older or cooler
Most schools have rules about cell phones. Before purchasing your 12 year old a cell phone make sure that your child will not have it confiscated at school. Rules can vary . Some school ask students keep phones off during intructional times and other schools do not allow phones in on school property. If your school allows phones on property make sure you go over the rules with the child. Anticipate problems , especially situations where your child may find it funny to forward a inappropriate picture of another classmate. Youngsters are being charged with trafficing porngraphy for forwarding or passing around inappropiate photographs. Most of the time the kids involved in the situation consider; the passing of off color pictures to be nothing but a prank. Make sure you child knows that inappropiate use of a phone can end them up in real legal trouble and not just with trip to the principals office.
Do not be falsely lead to believe that in an emergancy that your child’s cell phone will be off great help. In a school crisis having every child call authoriities or contact you with incomplete information will simply muddy the waters. Emergancy reponse is best contacted by the adults and the lines of communications need not be overwelhmed by hunderds of students calling at once.
Also cell phones provide opportunities for sexaul predators to contact your child without your knowledge. Make sure your child understands that their cell phone number like their land line number and address is information that only people you approve of need have. If you child is too immature to not put their cell phone number all over social networking sites and chat rooms then they maybe better off not having a phone at all. There are phones available for very young children where you can program in the numbers they call and block them from receiving other calls.
Chances are that your preteen will not be willing to carry a phone designed for a small child .No cell phone would be a better option than a phone your preteen would not be caught dead with.
Cell phones can be used to teach young children respondsibiliy . They can give you peace of mind especially if your child is a latch key kid and you want to know he has not missed the bus or lock himself out. I would suggest starting your child out with a prepaid phone with no camera or internet access. I would also talk to him about the rules of having the phone at school and about keeping his cell phone number private. Then check the phone every day to make sure your child is not receiving calls from people you do not know. In time if they use the prepaid phone respondsibliy then you can upgrade their phone to a more stylish product and put them on your regular family plan. Cell phones with all bells and whistles are not a necessity but a privilage. You can also use the extra cost of using a phone beyound emergancies as an expense that the child has to share out of their allowance or babysitting money. Chances are even a preteen will think twice about sending that thirtyth text message if they think they have to pay the bill to keep the phone.