Even in this digital parenting age, knowing the right time to get a phone for your teen is a challenge. Naturally, there is the worry about the responsibility and whether your child is ready for it. Then, of course, there’s the lurking worry that your teen will run up a massive phone bill—which she probably will! You end up sitting on the fence wondering whether you should really buy her a cellphone and if yes, you want to make sure it is put to good use.
Listening to music, taking pictures, texting with friends, and browsing social media are some of the perks that come with having a phone. But today, a cell phone is far more than a form of entertainment. Cellphones provide parents tools to help ensure the safety of their children. And for those whose kids are in college, studying on campus like mine, it is a lifeline we’re totally grateful for.
I can think of five reasons why your teenager really does need a phone.
A Phone Can Be Used to Call for Help
I cite this as the no.1 reason. Back in the time when there were no cellphones, we depended on payphones. But when was the last time you saw a payphone? In fact, do your kids know they exist? Today’s teens grow up in a world without easy-to-access payphones on every street corner. This is simply because, in the event of an emergency, people pull their phones from their pockets and call for help. What would your teenager do in an emergency? What if no one is around to offer assistance or a phone?
No one wants to think about a child in an emergency or an uncomfortable situation, but it happens. For every situation from getting a ride home when a party gets out of control to feeling sick at school, you want your children to call for help when they need it.
What if your car breaks down or you cannot leave work on time to pick up your teen from school? Do you know how to reach your child if you have an emergency? A cell phone gives your teen—and you—the security of knowing help is only a phone call away.
A Phone Can Be Used to Teach Responsibility
Getting your teens cellphones presents an opportunity to teach them about responsibility. Phones are not cheap and you have to maintain the expenses each month. Your children need to take proper care of their phones, making sure not to damage or lose them.
Having your children sign a phone use contract helps enforce the sense of responsibility that comes with owning a phone. Some parents include rules for using the phone around the house, charging it each night, and learning about digital literacy and cybersecurity.
Your Teen Can Be on a Family Plan
Adding another phone to your plan is more affordable than you think. Consider getting one of the unlimited data plans from a provider such as T-Mobile. Unlimited plans offer the freedom and flexibility you need to give every member of your family a phone without paying over-the-top monthly fees. With T-Mobile, for example, you can pay as low as $40 per month per line for up to four lines with the T-Mobile One plan. The plan includes unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data so that you never have to worry that your child will blow your monthly phone budget with overages.
You Can Track Your Teen’s Activities with a Phone
If there are days you wonder if your child goes straight home after school, a cell phone can relieve that tension. Take the worry out of knowing where your children are by investing in a monitoring service that tracks the location of their phones. If you want to know how your teens use their phones—such as who they text and the sites they surf online—install parental control programs that let you monitor their activities. This especially applies to the younger kids to keep them safe from cyberbullying monsters.
A Phone Can Help Your Teen Fit in With Their Friends
If you want your teens to fit in at school and with friends, they need to have cell phones. Many teens use their phones to stay connected with friends. They make plans, play games, interact on social media, and more. Teens also use their phones to complete school assignments. Without a phone, keeping up with friendships and taking part in activities could be close to impossible. I remember when my son started college and was studying on campus. We got a good cell phone but did not realize that WhatsApp, the savior of class groups could not be properly installed on it. As a result, he was missing out on important updates as they came. We remedied that by upgrading the phone and are glad we did!
If you’re considering a cellphone for your teen, you’re on the right track. Of course, it goes without saying that they must follow school rules and home rules about using them.
Does your teen use a cell phone?
What rules have you laid down for them?