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For Parents

Parenting Tips

Cell Phones: R U Ready?

Dear Janie,

My 12-year-old daughter has been begging me for a cell phone. Many of her friends have them and I like the idea of being able to contact her when she is away from home, but I’m just not sure about it. What do you think? Is she too young for her own phone?

A Confused Mom

Dear Confused Mom,

Cell phones are all the rage for adults and children alike. They are fun, cool and useful, but for many pre-teens cell phones are seen as the ultimate status symbol – a “must-have” for anyone old enough to press “Send.”

I agree that cell phones offer a great way for parents and children to stay in touch, but they are also a big responsibility and should be treated as such. It is never a good idea to buy something for a child just because all of her friends have one. As a parent, it is your responsibility to evaluate your own daughter’s maturity level and decide if she is ready for such an important step.

If you choose to provide your child with a phone, establish some rules first:

• What are your child’s time limits?
• Who pays for the phone? The minutes? The texting? How will you handle overages?
• Does she have to earn her phone in some way (chores, good grades, etc.)?
• What are the rules regarding cell phones at school?

On the other hand, if you decide that now is not the time to provide her with a phone, tell her why you have concerns and what she can do to earn the privilege of getting one. Whatever you decide, go with your gut. You know if your child is ready.