“But all my friends have one,” may be a constant argument if your child really wants you to get her a cell phone. While some parents may fear giving their child a cell phone opens the door to danger, such as the child contacting undesirable people without the parent knowing or a teenager texting her boyfriend at all hours of the day and night, other parents view the cell phone as a safety tool.
Your child can call or text you on his cell phone when he needs to and you are able to call or text him when needed, according to Anita Gurian, Ph.D. of the New York University Child Study Center. With a cell phone, your child will also have access to dialing 911 or another emergency number. When you give your child a phone, you gain peace of mind, according to Gurian. A few phones designed for children feature pre-programmed text messages that your child can instantly send you to let you know of his whereabouts or schedule, according to Herb Weisbaum of MSNBC.
A cell phone can teach your child responsibility, since she has to learn to care for it, by keeping it charged and in working condition, according to Kids Health. You can also use the phone as a tool to teach your child financial responsibility. Set guidelines for what aspects of the phone you will pay for, such as a set of minutes and texts each month, and what extras, such as ring tones, she will need to pay for. You may choose to buy a prepaid phone plan, with a set amount of minutes each month, so that your child learns to budget her phone use, according to the Center on Media and Child Health at the Children’s Hospital Boston.
Some phones designed especially for children have a built-in global positioning system, so that you can know where your child is at all times. A GPS phone may be especially beneficial if you live in a large urban area and your child walks to and from school or uses a method of public transportation. Some phones allow you to set a boundary, and will alert you should your child go past the allowed area.
It sounds counter-intuitive, since many people consider cell phones to be the cause of a decline in manners everywhere, but you can teach your child proper etiquette with a cell phone. If he answers the phone at dinner, remind him that doing so is unacceptable. If he continually uses his phone during inappropriate times, you can take it away from him until he learns not to do so. Remind him that he needs to turn the phone off while school is in session, at church or at any public events. You can also use the phone as a tool to teach very young children how to have a phone conversation.