"But mommy I want a cell phone for my birthday!" Really, a cell phone for her seventh birthday? "But daddy said we could talk about it." Yes, we can talk about it and here are the questions we asked before deciding if our young child needed a cell phone.
Why does our daughter need a cell phone? Does our child have a great many activities that she attends that a parent is not at? Is she frequently left alone at a class or camp? Is she ever left alone? In our case the answer is no. As parents of a young child we are almost always present with the exception of vacation bible school or summer camps that last just a few short hours.
Does our child know how to use a cell phone? Unfortunately the answer to this is yes, but not as much as she thinks she does. I recently picked up my phone to find new wallpaper/screensaver. When asked, she said "I did it, mom; isn't it nice?" Thanks to many parents like myself, our children definitely know how to use a cell phone, but do they know how to use it appropriately is a more important question.
Is she mature enough for a cell phone? In our case it is a resounding "No." She can barely keep track of her book bag or camera. Frequently favorite toys, outfits and books are misplaced. It's only through practice and planning that we keep her items where they are supposed to be. Until we can smooth out the rough edges of responsible ownership, a cell phone is probably not a good idea.
Does our child understand the concept of time? While she understands the concept of time and can read a clock, she doesn't have the concept of how much time something takes accomplished yet. I can say we will be somewhere in 20 minutes but she doesn't grasp how long 20 minutes is. This can cause a problem with cell phone and text usage, especially when you have limits based on your budget established on your child's cell phone.
Sure, I can see the need for a cell phone that offers emergency service, like calling home or police, fire and rescue. What if somehow we get separated at a store, festival or airport? Wouldn't she need a cell phone then? While we decided that maybe a prepaid, emergency cell phone would be useful for those specific times we agreed after asking and answering these four questions that she is too young for a cell phone. Maybe when she is 10, we can think about it again. Of course by then we may have a whole new set of worries about cell phones and our children.
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