*Thanks to AT&T for sponsoring this post. They are huge advocates of cell phone safety and responsibility. Thank you!
It’s a question so many of us parents are asking–when is the right time for your child’s first cell phone? My ten-year-old has been begging for a cell phone for over a year. She even wrote a very persuasive essay in her fourth grade class detailing exactly why she should have a cell phone. So when should you get your kid a cell phone? The answer is different for everyone, but there is absolutely no doubt that it’s a hot topic that you need to start thinking about if you haven’t already.
Here are a few tips and safety precautions concerning your child’s first cell phone.
When Should You Give Your Kid a Cell Phone?
3 Indicators that it’s time:
1.Your busy life dictates it. Today’s families are busier than ever. When life gets to the point where your kids are running in different directions, it’s probably time for another cell phone, even if you just start out by adding one more family phone and let your kids share it as needed. AT&T has several affordable family plans depending on what you need. You can ask questions online or go into your local AT&T store.
2. Your child demonstrates maturity. Rather than a magic age for that first cell phone, gauge your child’s maturity. If your child consistently shows responsibility, trust that they can handle a cell phone. You know your child best.
3. They are able to contribute. Children are more apt to take care of a cell phone when they’ve earned it or helped pay for it. If your child is willing to pay for or contribute to a phone, chances are they won’t lose or break it.
The Smart 6: A Safety Checklist for Parents
When it’s time for a child’s first cell phone, take these precautions to ensure a safe and successful experience.
- Sign a family contract: Rather than just handing over a new phone and giving them free rein, treat it like a partnership. Together with your child, write up a contract detailing the rules and expectations of having a cell phone. Come up with consensual consequences to broken rules.
- Choose a kid-friendly phone: Smart vs. Dumb phones—opinions will vary wildly and that’s okay.
Some parents don’t care to give young kids unlimited access to distractions like social media, prank videos, and virtual games. In that case, you may lean toward something like the no-frills flip phone or Alcatel Smartflip prepaid cell phone. Prepaid phones may be a good option to test your child’s readiness.
But smartphones are the future and with many new ways to safeguard your child’s smartphone, it is an excellent option. Want to know the #1-rated phone for kids?The Motorola Moto G Play is a cheaper alternative to paying premium for iPhone and it’s rated the best starter phone for a child.
- Safety Settings: When your child gets his or her first phone, make sure to visit the phone’s settings. On an iPhone, you can select “Screen Time” and set up parental controls like which apps your child can use and which websites to block. You can even set a bedtime for your child’s phone. For non-Apple phones, apps like ScreenTime do the same thing. And if you have teen drivers, make sure to use apps like TextArrest or CellControl that can disable phones while driving. Remember, It Can Wait.
- A protective Case: Kids will drop phones…it’s inevitable. Make sure you get a protective case like Otterbox that’s sturdy enough to withstand kid-life.
- Turn off their data: This parent hack is genius! Use the AT&T app to turn off your child’s data which forces them to use wi-fi and saves you from going over your data plan.
- The Right Family plan: Speaking of plans, adding another cell phone to your plan doesn’t need to break the bank. AT&T has some of the best family-friendly plans out there. Go check out their slider tool to see which plan is best for your family.
A cell phone is just the beginning. Next you’ll be asking, what kind of car is right for my new driver? Then, what college is best? We only worry because we love; it’s exactly what my parents said would happen. They said it to me, now I’m saying it to my daughter, and little does she know, but she’ll be saying it to her kids too.