When Is the Right Time to Buy Your Kid a Cellphone?

Inevitably your child is going to ask for a cellphone. Here are pros and cons to weigh when you decide if you'll buy them one, and ways to control how they use it.

When Is the Right Time to Buy Your Kid a Cellphone? Photo by Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com

This post comes from partner site WhistleOut.com.

Kids are being being exposed to cellphones earlier and earlier every year. Even toddlers quickly figure out how to unlock your cellphone, navigate to YouTube and play their favorite nursery rhyme video. It seems fine to let your kids play with your cellphone every now and again, but then comes the dreaded time when they ask for a cellphone of their own.

So, how do you know whether it’s right to buy your child a cellphone or not? Here we weigh the pros and cons to help you make a decision.

Pros

As much as we’d all probably like to delay the age our kids get their first cellphone, these days giving them a phone to use when they’re not home can actually be a good thing. Here are some benefits of providing a cellphone to your child:

  • Safety: You’ll be able to track your child’s location at any time via their cellphone, through apps like Apple’s Find My Friends or Android’s Trusted Contacts app.
  • Convenience: No longer will you need to contact the school to tell your son or daughter about any changes to the afternoon’s school pick-up routine, simply shoot them a text or call them.
  • Cost: It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to find a great cheap plan for your child. You can even get a great phone for pretty cheap (or even free) these days too.

Cons

  • Cost: It’s going to cost you additional money each month to keep your child on an active cellphone plan.
  • Screen time: Giving your child a cellphone could result in them spending too much time playing games, watching videos or interacting on social media unless you put in place parental controls.
  • Risk of bullying: Cellphones lead to social media, which leads to the possibility of cyber bullying. This is where parental controls come in.

Parental controls

The benefits of giving your child a cellphone in this day and age can seriously outweigh the downsides. The safety it can provide your child is priceless, which is why many parents choose to arm their kids with a phone once they start school.

If you want the safety aspects that a cellphone provides, without the risk of technology dependence or having your children being exposed to too much social media, then it’s important to put some parental controls in place.

Parental controls can help to:

  • Limit the amount of screen time your kids have on their phones.
  • Limit which apps or websites they can access.
  • Create safe lists of phone numbers they can receive calls from or make calls to.
  • Manage your child’s data, talk and text usage so you don’t end up with a huge phone bill.

Each carrier has different parental control programs, and the cellphone itself may have parental control options you can set before giving them the phone.

Pick the right plan

You may have noticed that “Cost” is both a pro and a con in my book when it comes to kids having a cellphone. While it’s an obvious downside because you have to pay for an additional phone line and phone, there are some super cheap plans available that make this cost almost nonexistent.

If you want a basic phone for your kid so you can contact him/her, then you’ll need minimal to no data, which means your phone plan is going to be C-H-E-A-P!

More from Whistleout.com:

What’s your approach to introducing technology to kids? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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