Does your child really need a cell phone?
April 3, 2014  |  Written by Carlota Nelson

If your child had a cell phone, you could send him a text or call him to see where he is or make sure he was aware of a change of plans. Parental surveillance is one of the most important reasons parents  consider buying their children a cell phone. Your son or daughter will also feel more secure and protected knowing you are there, on the other side of the line, especially in case of an emergency. Undoubtedly it´s very convenient for your children to have one but  but nowadays a cell phone is not just a phone. It takes pictures, entertains and is a social tool. Every child wants one and increasingly at a younger age.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation,  69% of 11-14 year olds and 31% of kids aged 8-10 have cell phones. Experts say that having a cell phone isn´t a question of age, but of necessity. Does your child really need a phone? Is he prepared to have one?

As parents, we need to consider our childrens´ day to day life. What extra-curricular activities do they have? How do they get to school and back? Is there a time of day when they are not supervised by an adult? Are we the ones who want our children to have a cell phone or was it their idea and why?

Before buying a cell phone, we should also consider certain issues regarding the use among minors. Once they have one, they can access inappropriate content, be exposed to cyberbullying (18% of minors have felt harassed) and poor performance at school (3 out of 4  minors never turns off their cell phones which lowers their attention in class and home). Great Britain and Holland have banned a cell phone created for kids between 4 and 8 years old and in France, cell phones have been prohibited at schools for children under 12. In the US, schools have traditionally banned or limited cellphones in the classroom.

It´s not a matter of demonizing technology but we need to know and teach our children the possible consequences of bad use of a cell phone and establish certain rules.


A basic phone. Your child does not need a smartphone. He does not need a phone with internet, a camera or games. Give him your old one and remember to remove all the extras. If he complains you need to remind him that a phone is not a toy.  It´s a tool that is used to call in case of a change of plans or emergencies.

Rules of the Game. Whatever phone your child ends up having, you must teach him to make a good use of it and this  includes not having private conversations in public areas, not taking pictures of others without their permission, not accepting calls from strangers or talking to them. Remember, you set the rules.

Access. You can place restrictions on cell phones such as setting time limits, blocking unknown numbers and chats. And if you are wondering whether you should look at his phone and check the bill, of course you should!

The Right Time. If you buy a cell phone for your child in case of emergencies or for parental surveillance, you must designate times and places where the phone must be turned off such as in the bedroom before going to sleep, at home, at school, during a family vacation.

Be a Role Model. Like everything that relates to education, you must be a role model. If you don´t want your child to use his cell phone at dinner or while he is on the bus or in the car, you shouldn´t either. If you don´t want him checking his phone compulsively, you shouldn´t either. Remember you are his role model and must set an example.

Photo Credits: Ian Lamont

Photo Credits: Honza Soukup



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