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“But All My Friends Have Cell Phones!”

Baby with phone

Is your kid clamoring for a cell phone? We’ve heard the pleading arguments from our kids before. And we’ll hear them again. Whether it was the pleading argument to convince you to allow your child to drink soda, watch that show, view that movie, or stay up “as late as everybody else,” you’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again. It’s their job, these kids . . . to test their boundaries . . . to get what they want — especially if other kids, and in particular, their friends have what they are pleading for. The cell phone is no different. It comes (or not) in its own time, according to what is suitable for us parents, our own kid(s) and our specific family.

What age is the right age to have a cell phone? Rather than consider the age, per se, be SMART about it. If you are considering a cell or smartphone for your son or daughter, apply the SMART formula:

Safety
Is your child in locations or situations in which he or she is away from you? Would you feel enhanced security if you were able to quickly reach your son or daughter if he or she had a cell phone? Is he or she travelling on a sports or activity bus, or riding in a carpool, whose arrival and departure time may vary from time to time?

Maturity
Does your son or daughter exhibit the maturity to possess a cell phone? Does he or she view it as a primary mode for communication – with YOU – and others . . . or as a plaything or status symbol with his or her friends?

Affordability
Is it affordable for your family – and for your child? Consider having your son or daughter contribute to the cost of the cell phone. Whether it be from an allowance, holiday or birthday gift money, or doing extra chores or work around the house, it’s a good idea to consider whether or not your child is willing to contribute to the cost, whether he or she can “afford” the cell phone – and whether or not it’s “worth the cost” to him or her.

Responsibility
Does your child take care of his or her things? Does he or she lose or break them? Does he or she understand the safety responsibilities, as well as the physical responsibilities, of having a cell phone?

Trust
Have you and your child established the necessary trust surrounding the use of a cell phone? Will your child quickly respond to you when you call or text? Does he or she fully understand the necessary precautions that he or she – and you – may need to take to ensure his or her safety when using a cell phone? Does your child understand that you may have the need to oversee or monitor his or her use of the cell phone?

These are all important factors and considerations when determining the right “age” for a cell phone.

I will say that I was hesitant (wanting to drag my feet a little) with the whole cell phone thing. Although it comes with a new set of considerations (shall we dare even say (YES!) concerns), it has provided my son, our family, and me with multiple benefits, from convenience (knowing the away game bus is ½ hour behind schedule) to communication (texting with offspring is way cooler than talking on the phone) and even a sense of calm (like when I’m at this end of the food court and he’s on the other, yet just a quick text away).

So . . . if you take on the SMART formula and determine that your child, you, and your family is “ready,” for the cell phone, go for it. Who knows, he might even start texting Grandma.

And, lastly . . . if and when you determine that your child has “come of age” for a cell phone, consider engaging your child in a cell phone contract, similar to the attached one created by a fellow mom. http://www.janellburleyhofmann.com/gregorys-iphone-contract/

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