Owning a Phone
It seems that every elementary school kid has a cell phone these days. And while they’re a great way to stay accessible to your children, do 10- and 11-year-olds (or younger!) really need them?
That’s likely a debate that’s been raised in your house more than once. If your preteen is begging for a cell phone and you’re on the fence, ask yourself if he consistently behaves responsibly, suggests Braun. Does he do his chores without prodding? Complete his homework? Obey your rules? Take care of his stuff and not lose things? If he does this most of the time, he can probably be counted on to handle a phone.
But that doesn’t mean simply handing one over. “Even good kids need to be monitored and restricted when it comes to technology,” says Norman E. Hoffman, PhD, author of Bad Children Can Happen to Good Parents, who strongly advises adding cell phone controls.
Five of the most important: Restrict the time of day the phone is in operation, such as no calls during school hours. Restrict specific phone numbers that can be dialed in or out. Limit the number of minutes per month. Require your child to pay at least part of his cell phone bill with his allowance. Take advantage of the GPS option so you can go online to check where your kids are at any given time.
Also, don’t rely on your child’s cell as your only means of contact when he’s not home. “Many parents call their kids exclusively on their cell phones to check in,” he says. “That’s not enough.” Make sure you have the home number of whatever friend your child is visiting.