Cell phones and young teens

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 6.56.58 AMMy sons, now in their twenties, didn’t care what kind of phone they had in their early teen years. Smartphones weren’t the norm, and they weren’t big on texting. A standard flip phone fit their phone needs perfectly.

It’s different now with my daughters, who are 13 and 15. Smartphones are pretty much standard issue for kids even younger than they are. Before buying a phone for your children, make some determinations about what they really need.

Giving your child a smart phone puts the world in their hands, but it also puts them in the world’s hands. Help prepare your kids to be smart and safe.

Know Your Apps

Will they be able to load apps without your permission? Talking about your family’s rules in advance will help set healthy boundaries for what’s on their phone and how they use it.

Due to bullying or potentially inappropriate content, decide what social media apps you are comfortable with your kids using. If they’re on it, you need to be on it. You don’t have to stalk them, but you should know how their social media platforms work.

For games, are there in-app purchases? Who will be responsible for additional charges? If they go over data limits, will they be cut off for the month or pay for the overage out of allowance or with additional chores?

Be Clear with Your Boundaries

I have restrictions on phone usage during set times and during certain activities. Before you have kids texting non-stop during Thanksgiving dinner, communicate your standards for phone etiquette.

Off after ten? Put away during family game night? These are things to figure out and talk about before it’s a point of conflict.

A Right or a Privilege?

When the homework is undone, if the grades drop, because of a discipline issue—will the phone be something you take away or restrict? Although a lot of cell phone activity is optional, these days having a phone while you are away from the house can be a necessity.

Last year we decided it was time to buy our youngest child a phone after we were separated in a theme park and had no way to contact her. After that experience, we felt a phone was now a necessity for her.

Keeping Up with Family

Apps like Life360 help keep your family connected—effortlessly! And with Premium, you get the additional feature of being able to locate up to six misplaced non-smartphones. While losing a phone is only an everyday occurrence in my house, it can give you peace of mind with your kids’ first phones.

And if a phone is not lost, but stolen? Premium will cover up to $100 for a qualified claim.

Getting that first phone is an exciting modern rite of passage. Set your kids up for success by knowing what you’re in for and by planning for the bumps you’ll encounter along the way.

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