This is a big debate among parents. It seems that parents are either very pro cell phone for their teens or they are 100% against cell phones for kids of any age. There are few parents that find a middle ground. Here we will discuss some of the reasons that parents do allow their kids to have cell phones and some other issues
Teens and Cell Phones
Safety – It probably goes without saying that the first thing a parent will tell you is that they want their teen to have a cell phone for safety reasons. Whether it is to get out of a bad peer pressure situation, a violent situation or to leave a party where there is drug and alcohol use. Parents also like to be able to have their teen call them (or to call the teen) and get an update on what is going on or to have a teen call for a ride when necessary.
Peer Pressure – Some parents may provide a phone simply because that is what all parents that they know are doing. They don’t want their kids to be different from their peers.
The Cost – Most parents encounter the cell phone bill that has so many overages you feel like you will need to take out another mortgage just to get it paid off. However, if you set strict guidelines right from the beginning with firm consequences you should be able to prevent the high bill. To make sure that the expectations are clear and precise you may want to use a parent contract so that the teen knows what to expect when they choose to disobey.
Cameras/Video Recorders in Phones – While this can be fun it has it’s flip side. Sexting and child pornography are real problems with kids and cell phones. One parent mentioned that they felt that kids would go further on picture and video messaging as well as texting than they would if they were in person and therefore the action follows the thought. Similar to a gateway drug this paves the way to bigger problems and more risky teen behavior and sexual promiscuity.
Phones and Driving – While some may say that it is important to provide your teen with a hands free device so that they can drive and talk studies have shown that this is equally as dangerous as just holding the phone. The problem does not necessarily lie in having one hand unavailable. The real issue is how distracted the driver becomes while in conversation and then they are not aware of their surroundings or as able to respond as quickly.
Keeping Tabs – We aren’t suggesting that you dig into every inch of your teen’s life but you should know that most cellular providers offer plans with parental controls. Also, you will want to keep an eye on the bill. You can prevent a lot of trouble if you watch the usage and keep the overage charges under control. As for texting, sexting, and pix/video messaging you should have a talk about the dangers involved. Teens need to be reminded (as do most adults) that anything digital can always be discovered. Teens need to know the criminal implications of forwarding any kind of inappropriate photo. These are not things to take lightly and you should be very direct with your teen.