Before Buying a Cell Phone for Kids
Prior to shopping for a new or upgraded cell phone, there are a few things to consider before buying a cell phone for kids. Cell phones offer parents the convenience of being able to reach their kids when necessary, and provide children with the security of being able to access help if needed. However, kids will have access to cell phones all day, and the technology of cell phones themselves, throw several important factors into the mix like safety, privacy, and responsibility.
Cell Phone Safety
The most sought after cell phones have the same features as personal computers. The same precautions that parents exercise for computer use should be applied to cell phones that have these features. Cell phones can be more dangerous because they are on a child’s person while he/she is away from parental supervision.
Cell Phones and Personal Privacy
Most cell phones also come equipped with cameras. Cameras have been the cause of irreparable harm to many ill-advised teens who have posted, or have had photos of themselves posted on the internet. The internet is a wonderful tool, but a long-lasting one for both the good and the bad. It’s important to discuss the dangers in age-appropriate detail of using phones for mischief and being the victim of improper cell phone usage.
Cell Phone Responsibility
Establishing guidelines before buying cell phones for kids is important. Guidelines should include: the specific times when a cell phone can/should be used inside and outside of the home, a detailed explanation of the plan and all of its features, along with a clear understanding that cell phones contain personal information like the phone numbers and/or email addresses of friends and family and should not be shared with friends, and definitely not strangers.
Cell Phone Purchasing Tips
- Find a phone and plan that suits the age of the child. A phone in which numbers can be preprogrammed and icons can be used for each contact could be a great feature for very young cell phone users.
- All cell phones are not created equally – in features, or plan costs. A prepaid cell phone may be the best option for a child who needs a phone for emergencies only, but could result in a dead phone or a larger bill than a standard monthly arrangement, if she/he uses it all the time.
- Assess the reasons why the child needs a cell phone and purchase the plan accordingly. If a child is more apt to text, then purchasing a plan with unlimited minutes and a mere 10 hours of text time could create huge monthly overages.
- Determine the child’s responsibility level. Purchasing a cell phone without boundaries like unlimited texting, phone calls, and internet access should be weighed on an individual basis. This includes the child and his/her friends.
- Many phones offer safety features like parental blocks, tracking devices, pin numbers, the ability to disable features, etc. This is a case where research pays, and an informed salesperson can be an exceptional tool.
Before buying a cell phone for kids there are a number of important safety factors to consider. While cell phones offer kids a level of safety and the ability to communicate with parents throughout the day, they also introduce safety issues that need to be addressed before their purchase.