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Cell Phones For Kids

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A cell phone can literally take over a child’s life. Kind of like video games, if you let cell phone usage get out of control it can consume them. And when you let that happen, your family life can become difficult.

Has this happened to any of you? Your teenager comes through the door from school and rather than say hi to you (mom or dad) they are talking on the phone and go right upstairs. That may be all you see of them till dinner. At dinner you have a problem because they want to take calls or make calls or text. That darn phone is impossible to pry out of their hands!

After dinner, they are right back up to their room and when you tell them you want to talk to them and see how their day went, you get the sigh and the rolling of the eyes. They have become a slave to their technology whether it be a cell phone, video games, an iPad or whatever. Time for you they don’t have.

This has happened to tens of thousands of families across the United States and I’m sure to many more in other countries around the world. It is a difficult thing to deal with and the best solution is to stop this kind of behavior early, before it ever has a chance to manifest itself.

If you are a parent thinking about getting your child their first cell phone, you need a plan. A plan that will make sure that they are taught the proper usages for a cell phone and one that keeps you in control. The last thing you want is for that cell phone to start taking control over your child and in turn control over your relationship with them.

A cell phone is a tool and as with any tool, you need to learn how to use it properly. Unfortunately this tool is an addicting one and that is what makes it a possible danger.

Step One

Teach your child right from the start that the cell phone is to be used for safety and for contacting you as needed. At a young age (9 to 12) that is really all they need it for anyway. Make them understand that it is a privilege to own a phone and it costs money. Cell phones for kids aren’t a “right” and they can be taken away if the privilege is misused.

The key is setting down ground rules from day one. Get them a phone that has parental controls and let them know you are monitoring what they are doing. Set times during the day and night that they are not allowed to use the phone. The younger they are, make sure you use programable keys so that they can only use the phone to call the people you approve of. (of course as they get older, you will have to lift that restriction)

Step Two

Try as hard as you can to lead by example when they are around. That means you, as the parent, won’t be talking and driving, won’t be talking and eating at the dining room table, and won’t be talking on the phone when you have set aside family time. Kids watch closely what their parents do and if you break all the rules you are trying to set for them, it will be that much harder for you to enforce the rules.

 Step Three

Start to teach them about the cell phone bill. You need to show them early on that a cell phone costs money. They need to understand that a kids cell phone is not something that is a toy and is free. The sooner you teach them how it all works (minutes and bills), the less likely they will be to abuse those minutes in the future.

All along (in steps 1, 2, and 3) you need to be EXPLAINING to them why you are making the rules you make. Help them understand why there are limits and why they should be respectful of the technology. Kids need and want to understand almost everything and they want to have you explain everything to them. The more you talk to them and keep them in the loop regarding their cell phones and the rules around it, the more likely they will be to cooperate.

Step Four

As your child gets older you will have to start relaxing the rules by allowing texting and more time on the phone. Those teenage years are the time when a cell phone can really start to take over but the better you have taught them upfront in the early years, the more likely they will be to stay in control over the phone rather than vice versa.

Parents today have a real challenge with all the incredible technology that is available at such a reasonable price. Raising children in this modern 2012 world is sometimes very different from raising children in the past. Kids have so many competing temptations that just weren’t available when we were kids and that makes parenting an especially challenging prospect.

The bottom line is though, that you need to set rules with a kids cell phone from DAY ONE and work hard to keep control of them and the phone. If you fail to do that, you can’t go back and ask for a do-over. Of course no matter how hard you try and how strict you are, they will fight you at some stage as they get older. That is a certainty. But if you set the rules early on and make sure they understand WHY there are rules, the better the chance you will have that they don’t end up becoming a slave to their cell phone later on.



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