Advice Column, Lifestyle, Tech, Tween & Teen Advice

Is my tween ready and responsible enough for a cell phone?

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Deciding if your tween is ready and responsible enough to own a cell phone is something that at some point all parents have to decide. When my girls, who are 11, wrote me a letter explaining the benefits of them owning one as well as why they felt they were responsible enough to own one : I too was faced with those questions.

As a child I always hated that my elder brother could do things that I was not able too, and was always told, as I am sure that others were, that it was for my own safety. I recall having some reservations about my eldest son getting a cell phone but not nearly as much as when I had to decide if the girls were ready.

This is something that we all are faced with and this is a big milestone that children reach in our modern day society. It is not something that is going to go away any time soon, so the acceptance on my and your part is imminent.

Undoubtably there are some benefits. I consider myself to be a reasonable person and that this decision was not something that I could put off for the rest of their lives. I could however make sure that they knew the risks of cell phones, in terms of the bullying that occurs so often using these devices as well as make sure that there were some clear ground rules in place.

Cell phones are a great way to stay in touch anytime, anywhere. You cannot beat the convenience of knowing that you are able to contact your child anytime. There is also the safety aspect of knowing where your children are and that if there is an emergency, a cell phone can be crucial if your child needs to reach you or vice versa.

That is partly why many parents are buying their children cell phones these days. For your tween, having a cell phone offers the same kind of security it does for you – knowing that you are just a call or text away.

We decided that we would lay down ground rules that not only we as parents agreed upon but the girls as well. Ensuring that we were all on the same page was a vital part to ensuring that the trust in our relationships was not only maintained but built on as well. Through all of our rules we clearly explained why we had set them out and gave the girls the opportunity to question all of them.

Our rules included the following:

  1. No taking cell phones to school. Most schools, including theirs do not allow cell phones at school. They do however have a phone card should they need to contact me as well as we felt that the school would do as they have always done, which is contact us if there was a problem.
  2. During the week, there was no telephone calls and no messages to take place. The girls are however allowed to message their family and only contact their friends if there is a concern regarding homework that they could resolve through this means.
  3. They were not allowed to join any social networks as yet. They had already expressed their own reservations regarding the risks involved in having a facebook account that we did not need to cover to much in this regard.
  4. They were allowed to play their games after their homework and chores were completed.
  5. Over the weekends that were able to use their cell phone as they saw fit, however if they broke any of our rules that there would be no cell phone on the upcoming weekend.
  6. We would ensure that there was adequate airtime available, however that this was to last for the entire month. If they ran out of airtime, they would have to work in order to have their line unlocked. This airtime would also replace their existing allowance that they were being given.
  7. There was to be no sending of any pictures of themselves to their friends. They are allowed to send to their family but not to their friends. Again after explaining that children today resort to bullying through their cells phones that these pictures could be sent through to people that they don’t necessarily want others to have.
  8. When we were together as a family, for example eating dinner, there was to be no cell phones and that we would still interact as a family.
  9. There would be no bullying of any kind via their cell phones with their friends.
  10. They would notify us if any suspicious messages were received and if someone that they did not know made contact with them.
  11. There telephone number was top secret and could only be given to their immediate friends, if any parents or adult requested their telephone number.

While researching for this article, I found something which sense. Drawing up a contract between parents and children is also a great way to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This is available to download and print by following the link below.

Cell Phone Contract


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