It's 2012, which means that most parents aren't discussing whether their kids will own a cell phone, but rather when their kids will own a cell phone.
Can you hear me now?
The process of purchasing a cell phone for your child should involve a lot more than discussions about the type of phone and the plan. It should center on cell phone safety.
Cell phone use and ownership is prevalent -- even among kids. In fact, according to SafetyWeb, lots of kids have cell phones.
Yes, you read that correctly. Almost one-quarter of kids who are 6, 7, 8 and 9 years old have cell phones. And while safety for this young group is extremely important, don't overlook the fact that tweens and teens need a lot of guidance as well.
Read up on the different parental controls for cell phone safety >>
Let's talk about sex(ting)
One of the more newsworthy issues when it comes to kids, tweens and teens using their cell phones is sexting. Teens sending nude or semi-nude photos of themselves with their cell phones is a big deal -- one that can have long-term repercussions. How can you prevent it?
"As with any difficult conversation, we recommend finding a time when both you and your child are in a comfortable, non-threatening place," suggest the experts from SafetyWeb. " We recommend starting by telling your child that your number one priority is their safety and well-being. You might want to consider admitting your own vulnerabilities. For example, tell your child that you don't know everything about technology... but that you do know that texts, words and photos can live forever on a website and/or be sent around to many, many people causing embarrassment or regret for years to come."
They break it down very simply, suggesting you tell your kids that a good rule of thumb is this: if you don't want your grandma to see it, don't text it.
Learn what Rosalind Wiseman suggests for talking to teens about sexting >>
Do young kids need cell phones?
With all of the things that can go wrong, you might ask yourself whether you child really needs a cell phone. When discussing the under 10 set, it's a personal family decision. "What may be right for one family may not be right for another. And while 'need' is a strong word, there can be good reasons for giving a child under 10 a cell phone," explain the SafetyWeb experts. "For example, if a child spends a lot of time in transit without parental guidance, e.g., on school buses, giving a cell phone to a child for emergency situations can put both parents and child more at ease."
Check out different cell phone options for kids >>
Cell phone safety tips for kids
If you've made the decision to give your child, tween or teen a cell phone, follow these SafetyWeb safety tips.
More on kids and cell phones