Many teens are heading back to school with a new accessory, their very own cell phone. If you haven’t yet decided if your teen is ready to go mobile, take a look through this handy checklist. With many teenagers operating independently on the way to and from school, participating in after-school activities and team sports throughout the school-year and beyond, a cell phone may be a smart decision. However, it’s important to have a plan in place to ensure responsible use.
Why does your teen need a cell phone?
Determine how your teen will use a cell phone before committing to one. Is your teen out unsupervised and needs to communicate with you? Will the phone be used for emergency use only? If so, it’s best to focus on a plan with more voice minutes. If the phone is going to be used for texting or surfing the Internet, it’s important to consider an unlimited cell phon plan to avoid overage charges. The volume of texting among teens has risen from 50 texts a day in 2009 to 60 texts for the median teen text user.
How responsible is your child?
Managing their cell phone can be a great way to teach financial and technological responsibility to a teenager. Just be sure to lay the ground rules early when it comes to minutes used, downloading music and apps and expectations on when they can and cannot text. Most schools also have very strict cellphone use policies.
Is your child already driving?
The local news is full of stories about teen accidents, especially when it comes to text and driving. Free apps, such as Drive Safe Mode, disable texting and emailing on Android phones while on the road. The app senses when the car is driving at a predetermined speed and prevents use of the keyboard while the vehicle is in motion, so teens can focus on the road.
Has your child been schooled in proper cellular etiquette?
Manners in the age of the cellphone are now a defined social skill, but can be tricky for parents to navigate, especially when it’s difficult to understand what children might be doing with their phone 24/7. Parents can create phone-free times or zones where teens aren’t distractedly waiting for texts or calls, but that doesn’t cover every moment of the day. When you’re ready to hand them a cellphone, be prepared to also establish an open dialogue about appropriate and inappropriate ways to use a cellphone, like:
If you do decide to equip your teen with a cell phone, consider Muve Music, the first music service designed for the mobile phone with unlimited song downloads, ringtones and ringback tones. That means parents get protection from ever having to pay overage charges for too many minutes, texts, or songs at the end of the month, while teens still have access to millions of songs from the most popular artists. Cricket’s family plan offers customers a $5 discount for the second line of service that is added to the same account. It doesn’t matter if the additional line is another voice, Smartphone or broadband line of service.
Photo by Ming Xia.
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