Over the last few months I have spent a great deal of time educating local parents about cell phone safety for kids.
Research* has shown that the average age a child gets their first cell phone is 12 years old, but we know kids are getting phone earlier and earlier. My twins are six and they have asked for a cell phone. Of course the answer was no.
*Did You Know:
- More than 1 in 5 kids have received a bullying text message from a peer.
- 69% of kids have answered a call from an unknown number.
- 53% of kids have been in the car with someone who was texting and driving.
When you gave your child their first phone did you go over safety topics with them?
31% of kids between the ages of 8-11 do have a cell phone. At this age it is mostly for the cool factor. Here are a few things you will want to consider before giving your child a phone at this age:
- are they responsible enough to take care of the phone
- what will the consequences be if they lose the phone
- how will you handle them accidentally using features that accrue fees
- will you establish ground rules for the phone and how will you do this
- what are the cell phone rules at school and are their fines associated
This is the prime age for you to educate and inform children of the purpose of a cell phone and what function it truly serves.
If your child is asking for a cell phone you might want to dive a little deeper and ask for a specific explanation on why he “needs” a phone. If he received a game system for Christmas last year and did not take care of it, he likely is not going to take care of a cell phone. Has he proven to you he can be responsible?
Maybe a cell phone is an alternative allowance. Teaching a child how to stay within a budget when it comes to a weekly allowance is a life lesson. If you feel it is time for a cell phone, you might consider this as an allowance.
Don’t forget to teach your child modern etiquette when it comes to their cell phone. It is never ok to disturb others when using your cell phone or to use photo or video functions as a means to harass or embarrass someone.
Remember to identify rules for the cell phone. No calls after 8:00 pm. Cell phone is to be kept in mom and dad’s room after 8:00 pm. Mom and dad have access to check all messages and call log, etc.
- 2 out of 5 kids with a mobile phone say their parents have not talked to them about mobile safety.
- Only 66% of kids say they have rules on their phone usage.
- 90% of kids say it’s okay for parents to set rules on their phone usage.
AT&T Offers Products that Allow You to:
- set limits
- curb data usage
- block harassing numbers
- limit access and set dollar amounts
- set time restrictions
- disable incoming features while being used in a car that is in motion
- install GPS tracking should the phone ever be lost and more
You can check out all of the mobile safety products offered by AT&T for more information.
And remember, feel confident even if you have to say no when you’re child asks for their first cell phone. You are the parent and you know what is best.
* Research published in the AT&T Mobile Safety study was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and involved a nationally representative dual-frame random digit dial (RDD) sample consisting of both landline and cell phone telephone interviews with 1,000 adults who have a mobile phone and children between the ages of 8–17 who also have a mobile phone; and 500 children between the ages of 8–17 who have a mobile phone (55 interviews were conducted among children ages 8–11; 186 among ages 12–14; and 259 among ages 15–17). The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points among the full parents sample and plus or minus 4.6 percentage points among the full children sample. The margin of sampling error will be higher for subgroups. Feel free to read my full disclosure.