When Do Tweens Need Cell Phones?
NOTE: Although I refer to girls in this blog, all areas apply to boys as well as girls.
In 2012, the National Consumers League did a survey. They reported that six out of 10 parents with tweens surveyed (56 percent) had purchased cell phones for their young children. That was 2012. What would a more recent survey reveal?
Before you run out and buy your tween a cell phone, please take a minute to consider the questions below. Just because “everyone else” has one should not be the basis for a parent to put this device in their child’s hands. Consider these questions before saying, “Yes.”
- Does your child currently let you know when she leaves the house? Does she return home at the agreed-upon time?
- Does your child need to be in contact with you due to your fluctuating work schedule?
- Does your child tend to misplace or lose important things like homework papers or personal items? Will a cell phone magically disappear, too?
- Does your child have a variety of after-school activities or different caregivers that need to be coordinated with her on a regular basis?
- Will your child be responsible with the cell phone’s usage–for example, not texting during class, disturbing others, adhering to limits you set for minutes and apps, and not blowing up other people’s phones with photos, videos, etc.?
- Has your child matured enough not to embarrass or harass others through the use of their phones?
Your child may be more technologically savvy than you. The question at hand has nothing to do with being able to use the technology. It has everything to do with her ability to use it wisely. If you, as a parent, cannot say wholeheartedly that her level of responsibility is equal to or greater than her technical ability, then you need to say, “No, not yet.” Explain to your tween where your uncertainty lies. Let your child first tell you what she will do to be more responsible. If she is off-track, offer other suggestions. Responsibility is a choice, your child’s choice. Agree to something and hold her accountable.
Help build her self-confidence by allowing her to show you she can be responsible. If she fails, remind her again of her commitment. Say, “No, not yet,” for as long as you need to do so. Don’t give in to whining and crying. Chances are your child will love you again. (I didn’t have to deal with cell phones with my tweens, but they occasionally hated me for other reasons. And what do you know, eventually I was no longer hated. Today I can laugh, because now, they are parents with tweens, and I am the cool grandmother!)
Look for my next blog with tips on shopping for tween phones, the costs and functions that you should focus on, and some simple rules to thwart misuse of the phone by your tween.
Shine Your Light — Annie M