How many times have you heard this from your son or daughter? If your child is over the age of 7, you’ve probably heard this at least once or twice.
And, chances are, he or she isn’t kidding.
According to studies in 2010, 75% of children age 12-17 now own a cell phone (a significant increase from 2009). Now, if you’re wondering what they are doing with the phones, many are doing very responsible things with them. Once a child enters middle school, the amount of activities (sports, service organizations, social activities) the child is involved with increases, and phones are key for keeping parents aware of schedule changes, forgotten homework, practices running late, etc.
But, they aren’t just using phones to keep in touch with Mom and Dad. It is interesting to note that 88% of all cell phone users in this age bracket are active “text-ers”; as a matter of fact, texting far surpasses actual phone calls with these users. Many teens (approximately half) send 50 text messages a day, and about a third of them send 100 or more a day. Do the math – this is 1500-3000 texts per month.
It is important for parents to make a conscious decision regarding cell phone usage for their children, and to realize that getting a phone for your son/daughter is an important step. It can be a great way to teach responsibility, and obviously the one or two times that your child needs to reach you can make any of the conflict around this choice seem silly. But, a cell phone also opens doors for your child and gives them the ability to communicate with people in a way that you cannot control; data packages that come with many plans can even give your son or daughter access to the Web that can be difficult for you to monitor. And don’t forget the fact that large bills can stack up with the rate of usage discussed above.
Only you can decide when your child is ready for a cell phone, but we’ve put together a few key things to consider:
- Does your child have a schedule that is liable to change without much notice (for instance, that might leave him without transportation)?
- Are you difficult to reach at times, or is there a chance that your child will need to communicate with another caregiver often?
- Is your child responsible enough to keep up with her own cell phone?
- Can you monitor your child’s usage in a manner that will keep him from using his phone more than you are comfortable with and/or can afford? For instance, Pure TalkUSA allows those on the Family Plan to “assign” minutes to users each month. This type of limit keeps users from incurring unexpected costs.
- Are you comfortable with a plan that offers data OR texts with images?
- Is your son/daughter mature enough to use a phone responsibly (i.e. no texting/talking while driving, no abusing his/her usage limit, alerting an adult if someone contacts them in an inappropriate manner)?
Of course, once you decide if your son/daughter is ready for a phone, there’s the issue of choosing a handset. Just when you thought it couldn’t get anymore complicated!
Be sure to educate yourself – on the various plans/carriers as well as on the pros and cons of children/teen cell usage – before you decide to buy your child his or her first cell phone. Once you have all of the facts, check out the plans/handsets offered by Pure TalkUSA. We think our plans are a great solution for young wireless users and parents that want to monitor their child’s usage. If you have any questions or suggestions on how to make our plans more family-friendly, please share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information and resources on child and teen cell phone usage, including a great “contract” for young wireless users, visit http://www.besmartwireless.com/.