PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Do your kids have a cell phone? Well more and more children are asking to get connected at a younger and younger age. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan takes a look at what parents should know before they buy their tween or teen their first mobile phone.
In an increasingly wireless world, it’s happening more often. Tweens, younger than 13, asking for their own mobile phones. The National Consumers League recommends that parents ask some questions first. John Breyault of the National Consumers League says, “Number one, why does your kid need a cell phone? Do they even need it at all? What will they use it for? What’s the budget that you want to set, how much do you actually want to spend on that phone?”
If you decide your that your tween is ready for a cell phone. Be sure to set a monthly budget and consequences for any overage fees. Put limits on extras like ringtones, apps and games. Have a talk about things like sexting, and cyber bullying and discuss distractions. Make sure they know not to talk or text while biking, or even crossing streets.
When shopping for the right phone and plan, ask about some important tools. You may want to purchase blockers and content filters that can limit what’s downloaded. Usage restrictions can be put in place to put a cap on texts or calls and limit when the phone is used.
Even after the phone is purchased, keep the line of communication open with your tween. Breyault says, “This is all part of a conversation that you should have with your tween and it’s something that they’re going to have to develop as a way to manage their own costs, as they get older.”
You’ll probably want to write up a list of features that your child needs and doesn’t need before you head out to go shopping for a cell phone. That list will help you to stay focused when your tween inevitably starts to drool over phones that may not fit your needs or theirs.
Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3