Children and Cell Phones

The first time I was given a cell phone by my parents was when I entered college at 18. Things have drastically changed since then, as you can imagine. 

Within a span of a few years, our perception of technological gadgets has changed from being luxuries to bare necessities. Which teen today doesn't own an iPod, a PSP, and his own cellular phone? The cell phone alone has become an indispensable technological tool. Parents readily give their children their own units as a way to communicate and keep track of their whereabouts.
The advantages of children having cell phones cannot be denied. But it can also be worrisome for parents as we can't really monitor how they are using cell phones, especially if you are raising teens. My daughter is turning 6 this month; she is in first grade. Obviously, it is still too early to give her a phone – but not because she cannot use one.

My daughter already chats online via Yahoo Messenger with her grandparents and some of our friends. She uses the touchpad of my laptop computer to watch YouTube and play videos. She knows how to find her way around her aunt's iPod. It is not so surprising that she can navigate the keypad of her dad's phone (I don't own one) expertly and send text messages to our family members. Today's young children are growing up in exciting times indeed.

So the question is: when are we willing to give our daughter her own cell phone and how do we manage her cell phone use when the time comes? The availability of cell phones that are suitable for children is not a problem today. You can buy a basic cell phone with all the necessary functions between the price ranges of PHP 500 to PHP 5,000. It is still a form of investment, however, so I suppose one of the things to consider is whether or not our daughter has already had a sense of responsibility when it comes to things she own.

Yes, I agree that it is okay to give children cell phones – but with certain conditions. I guess we can give her a phone when she turns eight. She is excited about it, too. That is still a couple of years away and I'm already getting worried. Haha. As a way to prepare myself, I did some research about the topic and picked up some useful tips on how to go about it, when the time finally comes:

Children have to earn it. Your child will appreciate the value of having a cell phone if you gave it as some form of reward for something he has done. The achievement could be something as big as topping his class, a summer activity he satisfactorily completed, or something as simple as keeping his room clean. Make cell phone use a privilege and any "misuse" could lead to the termination of that privilege.

Parents have to be 100% in charge. The cell phone of your child should only be programmed to call you or other family members and nobody else. Should your child exchange numbers with classmates, make sure you keep track of them. The hours of cell phone use should also be set by you and they need to be fixed. Of course, they should not use the cell phone in class. You may even take the phone in your possession once your child gets home from school.

Educate them about taking care of the phone – and themselves. With the increase of students that own a cell phone, cell phone theft is an inevitable occurrence. Set a place in the child's school bag where the phone should be at all times. The place should be properly concealed yet easily accessible if the child needs to use it. Robbery is also common, especially in the Philippines. Tell your child never to take out the phone in public places such as during the commute or in the mall. Also, don't forget to remind him that his life is more valuable than any gadget.

Monitor cell phone use efficiently. Check incoming calls and the cell phone inbox regularly to protect your child from child predators. To reduce cell phone bills, use a prepaid service. This would also teach them to use their credits responsibly. Save your number and other emergency numbers in the phonebook or in the speed dial feature so your child can easily call you in case of emergencies.

In conclusion, responsibility on your part is the key to the effective management of cell phone use of your school children. Parents also need to teach their children how to be responsible and to protect themselves. How about you, when did you or when do you plan to give your child a phone?

If you are thinking of buying your child a cell phone, I found this link where various cell phone models recommended for children are featured. You may also browse our personal picks from Amazon by visiting our aStore. Enjoy shopping!


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