You can’t avoid it forever; if your child is in their pre-teens or early teens, chances are they’ve been begging you for a cell phone. As parents, our generation didn’t grow up having cell phones at such a young age, so how are we supposed to navigate the tricky terrain of knowing when, why, and how to give a teen a cell phone? We are here to help you answer these questions by telling you five things you should know before giving your teen a cell phone.
We’ll cover everything today, from mobile plans to appropriate online behavior and everything in between. To help you along the path of figuring out how to give your teen a cell phone, keep on reading.
Before you even consider giving your teen a cell phone, they must be aware of at least some of the dangers they could encounter by having a cell phone. By giving your teen a cell phone, you’re opening up a whole new world filled with both positive and negative opportunities. However, this shouldn’t scare you away from giving your teen a cell phone because at some point, it’s inevitable, especially considering how digitally advanced the younger generation is.
Even for adults, having a smartphone with unlimited 5G data is the norm and oftentimes necessary for daily living. To help prepare your teen for all the things they might encounter from having a cell phone, whether that’s unsolicited messages from random strangers or pop-up ads saying they won a new iPhone, sit down with your teen and have an open conversation with them, being honest about what they need to be aware of.
2. Online Behavior
In addition to being exposed to harmful things, your teen might also treat others wrongly online if not taught correctly. Before giving your teen a cell phone, you should discuss online behavior with them. They should be well-versed in how they should interact with others online and who to not interact with at all.
Another online behavior teens must be cognizant of is what kind of information they can reveal online. If they’re not careful, your teen might accidentally make private information available, such as a phone number, address, or even password. Ensure your teen knows exactly what kind of information should not be posted online and to always stay on the hesitant side when it comes to disclosing personal information.
3. Mobile Plans
The third thing to consider before giving your teen a cell phone is what kind of cell phone plan would be best for them. There are a wide variety of mobile plans, and you should get one based on your wants as a parent and your teen’s needs as the one who will be using the cell phone. Some mobile plans have unlimited texting, while others have a limit of 200 text messages per month.
Some mobile plans give you a specified number of minutes while others are more flexible. As a parent, what do you think is most important for your teen to have access to on a cell phone, and what is unnecessary? Upon answering these questions, you’ll be able to find mobile plans that are appropriate for your teen.
4. Cell Phone Type
The next thing you should know before giving your teen a cell phone is that there is a vast array of different kinds of cell phones, some of which offer more services and opportunities and others that are more limited in what they can do. Carefully do your own personal research to see what type of cell phone would be best for your teen.
Although your teen may want the latest version of the iPhone that was just released this year, it might not be a great idea to throw them head-first into the digital world by getting them the newest models of technology available today. Consider getting them a phone with limited capabilities at first and then gradually giving them more advanced models as the years go on and they continually demonstrate their responsibility. This is a great way to encourage them to use their phone appropriately, too.
5. Screen Time Limits and App Filters
Before you give your teen a cell phone, it is necessary to have an understanding of the cell phone’s screen time limits and app filters and know how to set those. By setting limits on your teen’s phone concerning how long they can spend on their cell phone and what websites and apps they can access, you can help protect your teen from irresponsible behaviors and even dangerous online interactions. Teens can be really sneaky, so make sure you don’t have any flaws in your screen time or website filter system.
We hope this article was helpful in showing you some of the main things you need to know before you give your teen a cell phone. This is a big step in life for you, so take your time, and allow yourself to make a few mistakes; it’s only a part of life. If we each do our duty in educating our teens about how to use cell phones appropriately, we can make the online world just that much safer for our loved ones.