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Jul05

When Should Your Child Get Their First Cell Phone?

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In the last 20 years, the world has made giant steps and the ”Digital Age” has arrived. We are immersed in a technological world whether we like it or not, which is why being overprotective with our children and new advances (cell phones, internet, tablet…) can be counterproductive. It is best to educate them on how to make the best of the benefits and potential that lie behind the technology.

One of the questions that parents turn over in their heads, again and again, is ‘When is a good time for my child to have a cell phone?’

This depends on their maturity and level of responsibility, but from 13-14 years old is a good age for it. We should understand that having a cell phone involves much more than just having the physical object, it allows them to enter ”the adult life.” Communicating instantly with other people (known and unknown), access to an infinite and diverse amount of information, shopping, etc. As a result, it is necessary to educate our children on how to responsibly use this technology:

  • Only speak with people you know.
  • Do not accept invitations from people you do not know on social networks.
  • Never share your passwords.
  • Respect others and stay away from cyber harassment, like bullying.
Establish limits

For little ones, it is necessary to cultivate important morals and values like responsibility, discipline, and acceptance of rules. Therefore these must also exist when using a cell phone:

  • Establish a schedule and times to use it.
  • Do not bring the cell phone to school.
  • Do not use it during meal times.
  • Avoid having it nearby when studying or doing homework.
  • Turn it off at night.
  • Do not use it during meetings or when you are around other people.
  • Be responsible for the phone, sharing the cost and establishing a consumption limit.

You should be aware of how your child is using their cell phone, knowing what applications they have downloaded, who they are talking to, their activity on social media, all while respecting their privacy.

But do not forget that you are the mirror in which your child is projected, so you must be the first to display proper cell phone use.

Janell Burley Hofmann is an American mother that decided to give her son Gregory a cell phone for Christmas when he was 13. Surprise! He had to sign and agree to a contract with 18 points if he wanted to have the cell phone…

The Contract
  1.  It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?
  2. I will always know the password.
  3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”. Not ever.
  4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30 pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00 pm. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30 am. If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.
  5. It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It’s a life skill. *Half days, field trips and after-school activities will require special consideration.
  6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.
  7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.
  8. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
  9. Censor yourself. Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room. 
  10. No porn. Search the web for information you would openly share with me. If you have a question about anything, ask a person – preferably me or your father.
  11. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.
  12. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation.
  13. Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.
  14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO – fear of missing out.
  15. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.
  16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.
  17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.
  18. You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.

Interesting approach, right? Take notes!

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