If you are the parent of a child over the age of 7, the topic of cell phones probably causes heart palpitations. The anxiety associated with getting your child a cell-phone comes from many directions and the decision is anything but straightforward. The reality is that children aren’t magically ready to handle a cell phone at a certain age. You have to make your child ready. As with most major milestones for your child, parents need to prepare and take the leading role to make it a successful venture. The first step is talking to your child.
When. Parents need to talk to their kids about cell phones sooner than you think. “Out of sight, out of mind” is not a valid option. Just because your child doesn’t have a cell phone yet doesn’t mean they aren’t using their friends’ phones or their friends’ older siblings’ phones. Studies show that the average age a child first borrows a cell phone is 8, so get ready early.
Educate Yourself. Before you can have a credible conversation with your child about cell phones, you need to educate yourself on the topic. If you are a “techie”, you can skip the rest of this paragraph. If you are like the rest of us, keep reading. Surprise! Cell phones are not simply devices to call someone! Today’s cell phones can include texting, picture texting (made famous by sexting scandals of late), email, video chat, cameras, video recorders, internet access, twitter, facebook, photo and video share sites, and on and on. Believe me when I tell you that our children are like cell phone savants.