The 411 On Kids
According to the experts at Trend Micro Internet Safety for Kids, you should consider these important factors when determining if your child needs a cell phone or smartphone:
Do your kids absolutely need costly Internet access or text messaging? They'll tell you they do, but the decision is yours, and it's not an easy one to make.
These devices may make life easier and more fun for your kids, but they may also expose your child to content he's not ready for. Consider phones that exclude or limit these options. For kids who are allowed Internet access on their phone, consider adding a filtering service to block inappropriate content.
Phones with cameras are fun, but they do present risks. Let your children know they should never take photos they'd be embarrassed to show parents, teachers and others. And if your child is on the receiving end of such an image, he should tell a parent right away.
Family tracking apps are an easy tool for families looking to stay connected.
Once you've made the decision to give your child a cell phone, you need to select a plan that works for your child and your family. Look for a provider that offers flexible family plans, and ask about insurance and replacement costs.
Net10 is one cellular service provider that gives you the coverage you need without the big cost increase you expect from adding a new device. They offer nationwide coverage, a wide selection of basic phones and smartphones, easy-to-understand family plans and plans that are pay-as-you-go or monthly.
Matt Taylor, age 16, offers his two cents about what parents need to know about cell phones:
Privacy. Parents need to keep lines of communication open with their children. Don't spy on us or go through our phones.
Bullying. Cell phone bullying is like traditional bullying. Victims keep quiet — not because they're worried about retaliation by the bully, but because they don't want you to take away their phone! Talk to your child in advance so he knows that if he comes to you with a problem, you won't automatically confiscate his technology.
Sexting. Be realistic: If teenagers want to send naked photos, they will. Make sure they understand the legal trouble they could get into under child pornography laws. And make it very clear that the recipient can forward the photo to anyone, who in turn can forward it to anyone, and so on.
Parents should know that a cell phone in the hands of their child is one of the greatest leveraging tools ever invented, says technology blogger Budly Freund. If your child is blowing off chores to text friends, simply send a text of your own:
Take out the dog now or I will turn your phone into a paperweight.
Mission accomplished… and you didn't even have to raise your voice!