Cell Phones today seem like a basic necessity. My kid asked me the other day, how did I communicate with my parents when there were no cellphones? While I simply smiled, I understood her thought process. We seem to be too engrossed in our phones today to fathom a world without it. Kids today want the cellphones at a young age and they seem to get it too! Kids as young as 10 years have cellphones, but is cellphone really necessary for a tween? The jury is still out on this one, but if you do consider that it is important for a child to have a cellphone, do consider these points.
Some things to consider before you hand a cell phone to your tween:
- Every child is different
Cell Phones are getting smarter by the day. Gone are the days when they were used to make an urgent phone call or a long text message. Hence it is important for us as parents to understand if our child is really mature enough for that responsibility and then make a conscious decision. Every child is different hence the ‘All my friends have a cell phone, so I should have one’ does not apply here.
Understand the real need for a cell phone
It could be that your tween has a busy schedule or there could be plans that might not turn up the way they should. In such situations it is understandable that parents want to stay in touch with their children. At times they need regular access of the internet like while on a school trip. Whatever the reason, understand the need for a cell phone and based on it invest in one.
Cell Phone or Tablet?
If the need is limited to staying in touch, buying a new cellphone and then footing the bills might not be feasible. Tablets too have a call option, and most of the apps can be downloaded on the tab. Bigger screen size means it is better on the eyes. Make an informed choice based on the need. If you need to buy a cell phone, educate the child about the costs of fancy mobile phones and the kind of danger it might put your child in. Buy phones within reasonable budgets.
Rules around Cell Phones
It is important to educate the child that every gadget comes with its set of rules and responsibilities. Understand the rules and policies, of the school around cellphones and ensure that your child does not breach them.
Did you read about the recent article where an undergraduate college professor broke the cell phones of two students after children seem to regularly flout the rules around cellphones? The child should be educated that these rules cannot be broken and there will be consequences for flouting them. Set some personal rules in the house as well to ensure that your tween know the limits around cell phone usage.
Cell Phone Etiquettes
The novelty of the gadget might make the tween forget some basic etiquettes around cell phone usage. The tween needs to understand the cell phone is for communication and not for disturbing others. Keeping the phone on silent or on vibrator in public places or in class and group discussions is important. A Tween needs to understand that video calls might not be okay at any time of the day and they need to ask permissions and understand the settings where the other person is, before making such a call. Talking loudly or not excusing yourself from the group while on call is rude.
Is a Cell Phone safe?
This is something that every parent should discuss at length with the Tween. Cell Phones are a gadget, but because it is connected with the world, it is important that the Tween is extra vigilant when handing out information and data. A few things to focus on are
- The rule of ‘never talk to strangers’ applies online as well.
2. Do not share personal or family details with strangers or ‘online friends’
3. It is inappropriate to share yours or friends embarrassing or private photos online
4. If you are sharing someone else’s photos, make sure you take their permission
5. Do not download any potentially unsafe apps and keep the antivirus on phones upto date.
6. If the tween is being bullied or intimidated online under any circumstances, they need to share that information with parents on urgent basis.
Cell phones are the need of the hour. As the world is jet-setting on a 5G speed we can’t really expect our tweens to stay away from it.
However, we can certainly equip them to be smart and careful with the device. What are your thoughts, share in comments below.