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Giving your Kids a Cellular Child Phone
In today’s hectic world, more and more parents are concerned about their children’s safety, and rightly so. Children today are involved in more and more activities and spend more time at home alone than any other generation. Many parents are turning to cell phones as a way to keep in constant touch with their children.
As cellphone technology becomes more and more advanced and prices of phones drop further and further, many families are utilizing shared calling plans and prepaid phones to furnish their children with cell phones. Most parents feel that children can be taught to be responsible with the devices, and the peace of mind that being able to contact your child at any time brings is more than worth the cost of the monthly billing.
Of course, a certain level of responsibility is necessary before a child should be given a cell phone. Most parents wait until their kids are middle school age before considering it, and then there is a significant learning process before the kids are turned loose with the phones.
Children must be taught that the phone is a valuable piece of equipment, like a gameboy or scooter, and must be treated with respect. This means no “monkey in the middle” or games of catch with the phone. Additionally, children must learn when it is appropriate to call for help and when it isn’t. Any parent of a child who has called 911 as a joke or just to see what would happen will stress the importance of this lesson.
Children must also be taught the proper time and place to use their cellphones. Most parents will set limits on the amount of calls to friends that the kids can make during the week. Since many plans now have free weekend calling, many parents allow children to call their friends during the free periods. Children must also be taught that the phones are not to be used during school hours, unless there is an emergency.
Most middle school aged children can grasp these concepts well, and the “coolness” factor still associated with having a cellphone at that age is a great incentive for the kids to follow the rules.
There are several prepaid cellphone plans available as well, if you just can’t afford to take the chance that your child will run up an astronomical bill. Several large discount retailers carry the popular Tracfone on which all time must be prepaid. The per minute cost is significantly higher than with regular phones, but if you are providing your child with a cellphone for emergencies, this shouldn’t be a major issue. They are easy to activate, and the minutes can be replenished via a special toll-free number or on the internet.
There are also services that allow you to track your child’s activities using Global Positioning Satellites (GPS). These phones are available through several companies including MyChildTracker. The service works with regular cellphones and allows the user to receive a voice message or a dot on a map on the internet. Although this is an extra monthly fee to pay, parents of teens have found the service invaluable.
If you are considering a cellphone for your child, make sure to spend some time teaching him basic cellphone etiquette and establishing some rules for its use. Not only will the cellphone give you piece of mind, but you may be able to teach your child about responsibility at the same time.
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