When you decide to give your children their own cell phone, make sure you set the ground rules about how their phone is to be used. Develop a list of who your kids can call or text. Let them know if they are allowed to use the phone to access the Internet. Warn your children about lending their phone to friends. If the phone is out of their possession, there's no controlling what messages may be sent on your child's behalf.
Share articles and news stories about other kids whose lives are impacted by cyber-bullying, sexting or texting while driving. Sometimes seeing the results of others' irresponsible cell phone use is the best way to show your children the potentially disastrous effects of cell phone misuse.
Most cell phone companies offer parental controls that allow parents to set usage controls and content filters. Let your children know you will be monitoring their cell phone use and periodically checking their sent box to ensure their responsible cell phone use. Remember, you're the parent. It's your responsibility to keep your children safe.
One way to help ensure your kids' responsible cell phone use is to have them pay their own cell phone bill. While your children may not be old enough to get a part-time job, give them opportunities to earn money at home by helping with additional chores. Remember -- even if your children pay their own cell phone bills, you still have the right to monitor their cell phone activity.
As much as you may want your child to carry a mobile phone so you can get in touch with them, taking it away for misuse is probably the most effective way to ensure responsible behavior. Don't be afraid to take your child's cell phone away as a disciplinary method if they are not using the phone as they should.
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