Thursday, February 4, 2010

Media and Kids - Cell Phones

The media explosion in our lives is leaving some parents feeling overwhelmed.  When it comes to cell phones, what are some things parents might consider?

Why do I (the parent) want my child to have a cell phone?
  • A phone is not available to them where they are going.
  • I want them to be able to call me in an emergency.
  • I need to be able to call them if plans change.
  • Parental peace of mind  (Just beware of over parenting here)
Those are great reasons.  Be aware that your child wants a cell phone for far different reasons
  • Because you have one
  • Because their friends have one
  • Beause they want to text and talk to their friends
  • Because its an awesome toy
 Children are often not old enough or experienced enough to be aware of the dangers. Before you end up paying  $300 (or $3000) because they exceeded their text limit or the minutes on your call plan, consider the following.

Beyond basic safety concerns, a cell phone is a want not a need. Some options for parents to consider are...
  • You can have your own cell phone as soon as you are able to handle the monthly bill with payment required 1 month in advance with a 1 month deposit or
  • You can have your own cell phone and go on our calling plan as soon as you have a deposit of $300 in the bank to cover overages.
  • You can use an emergency phone that we provide for times when you are not near another phone.
  • The phone we provide will be one with parental controls or a limited number of buttons that allows you only to call pre-programmed numbers.
  • If you are on our plan, you need to know up front we will review texts. (Don't do this behind their backs.)
  • No phone zone 1... if you still have a landline, one option is having everyone check their phones at the door.  No minutes used from home.  No texting at home.
  • No phones zone 2:  another option is to make the dinner hour including preparation, table setting, and  clean up a no phone zone.
  • No phone zone 3:  Acting on the assumption that when everyone is safe at home in their own bed they do not need their cell phones... you could enact an "all phones in bed by 9" basket for everyone to put their phones in.  This could double as a charging station.and potentially eliminates middle of the night texting.

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