Most young teens and pre-teens are still very dependent on you. Because of this dependence, a cell phone isn’t necessary. This is especially the case if you pick your children up from school or if they take the bus to a stop that is right next to your home. Your children rely on you for virtually everything, so buying a cell phone for them won’t necessarily improve their safety.
In fact, cell phone use at an early age could be more harmful than helpful. A child’s brain may not have developed enough to handle the responsibilities that come with phone use. Sexting can have legal ramifications, social media can open a door to unceasing cyberbullying, and distracted walking/driving can cause serious injuries or death in certain cases.
Cell Phone Education Is Essential
Teens and pre-teens need to understand how to properly use a cell phone before owning one. The best way to make sure that your child doesn’t end up misusing a phone is to start a conversation early on and set a good example for proper cell phone use. Thankfully, there are a number of resources parents can use to help in facilitating discussion and learning.
- I Sent A Picture to a Boy I Liked & Shouldn’t Have – This is a short, 3-minute animation based on a true story. The animation will help your child realize the consequences that come with sending things over text they shouldn’t.
- Distracted Driving: The Game – This game highlights how difficult multitasking is while a person is behind the wheel. Teens can try to steer a car while dealing with distractions firsthand. It’s better to learn this lesson virtually than learn it in real life with real consequences.
- gov – The US Department of Health & Human Services has created an entire site dedicated to cyberbullying. The site includes for students, parents, and schools on cyberbullying.
Proper Cell Phone Etiquette
Ultimately, you’ll want to make sure your child is abiding by the following rules:
- There’s a time & place for texting – Phones should not be used during class, dinner, a funeral, a movie, or at church.
- Don’t text & drive – Multi-tasking behind the wheel is never a good idea and it significantly increases the risk of a crash.
- Don’t send or post anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing in public – There’s a false sense of security that comes with sharing things on social media or through a text. If you wouldn’t say it in public, you probably shouldn’t be saying it online.
- Be kind – Cyberbullying is never okay.
Phone education absolutely needs to come before phone ownership. As a general rule, the older your child is, the more likely he/she is to be more attentive to your parental guidance.
However, determining when your child is responsible enough for phone ownership will ultimately be your call. No one knows your child better than you do. Phones can be a powerful tool when used effectively and safely.