Cell phones are no longer something only the rich kids have at school. These days, kids without cell phones are the exception. Especially once you hit the middle school years. A recent study shows that more than 75 percent of kids aged 12 to 17 have their own cell phone.
You, as the parent, have the duty to decide if your child will have a phone. There are some pros and cons to this discussion and we will touch on a few of those here.
Here are several of the pros that I have found while researching whether or not a child should have a cell phone.
There is no denying the safety and security that having a cell phone offers. If there were to be an emergency, it makes it easier for your children to contact police or emergency services (as well as you). In addition, if a family emergency were to occur, or if your child were to become ill, you have a way to contact one another.
These phones can also turn into tracking devices in the event of a true emergency and your child cannot be located.
In the event that you have a child with anxiety for example, phones can be a much needed line of communication between you. It allows the child to be independent, while knowing that you are just a phone call away.
There is no denying that there are some pretty strong factors that show that kids having cell phones is simply more convenient. With children in as many extra-curriculars as they are these days, it is nice for them to just be able to give mom or dad a call to say “I’m done and ready to be picked up” No more searching for a phone to use (remember the pay phone days?), no more hoping you show up on time.
In addition, if your child has a smartphone, there are countless convenience benefits that can be found.
- They need to do research for a report? Just do an internet search right there are on their phone?
- Want to have a sleepover with a friend? Send mom a text and ask.
Having to keep track of their phone and taking care of it can and will teach your child the responsibility and importance of following the rules and guidelines set by you. It is imperative though, that you set these rules and guidelines. Unfortunately, I see many kids taking their $600+ cell phones and throwing them across the room, etc, without parental involvement. These actions, in my household, would not be tolerated and the child would no longer have that phone.
Here are a couple of cons that I have found when determining whether or not a child should have a cell phone.
First and foremost, your family’s budget needs to have enough room in it to allow for a phone. Just like anything else, you cannot put the wants of a cell phone over your need to pay bills, buy groceries, etc. The fact of the matter is, cell phones cost money. Smartphones cost quite a bit of money and oftentimes, when you sign up for a phone, you are looking at a 12-24 month commitment. Are you sure you can afford it? We actually have a phone that is FREE for Miss Sarah to use as long as we have WiFi close.
Kids find time to be on their phones. Texting, looking at social media, watching video and listening to music are just a click away and if they are not held to strict boundaries, many kids will be doing these things when they need to be doing schoolwork or other necessary tasks.
Just like cell phones can be a safety net for you and your child, they can also pose some serious safety hazards. Kids can easily surf the internet and communicate online with their phones. There have been many news stories as of late of predators contacting children online. It is imperative that you not only talk to your children about these dangers, but also monitor their apps and the activities that they are doing with their phones.
I hope that gives you some things to think about,and help make your decision. Miss Sarah DOES have her own phone and we have worked with her on skills to keep her both safe and not glued to it.