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7 Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a Cell Phone For Your Child

Purchasing a cell phone for your child is one of those topics that is individual for each and every family. Sure, there are lots of voices saying, “Your kid is too young!” or, “Why does a 10-year-old need a cell phone? We didn’t have cell phones when we grew up!” — just let those voices be voices. Everyone is entitled to raise their child as they wish, and perhaps you are considering buying your child a cell phone.

We recently went through this with our family. Our 2 older kids — 8 and 10 years old — are at a new charter school this year, which is a bit of a drive from the house. On top of that, they are in sports, church, and various other activities, which has me running all over the metroplex. This is a total about-face from our previous life in another town.

After much talk, we decided to get our daughter a cell phone. This is more for giving us peace of mind that she is okay, and a direct line to her. We have already found it handy when we were running late the other day, and then this past weekend when we got lost in the store.

Before we bought the phone, there are several things we took into consideration. Here are 7 questions to ask yourself before purchasing a cell phone for your child.

  • Before Purchasing Your Child a Cell Phone 1 of 8
    7-questions

    Ask yourself these questions before purchasing your child a phone.

  • Do I Want to Sign a Contract or Go the Non-Contract Route? 2 of 8
    contract-or-no-contract

    Nowadays there are many options for wireless service that do not require a contract. Before signing the dotted line on a 2-year contract, consider a no-contract phone plan for your child. 

  • How Will This Help Our Family? 3 of 8
    help-our-family

    Will the cell phone create a bitter jealousy sibling battle? Is this something your child wants, or that you want for your child? Ask yourself these questions and determine if your child having a cell phone is best for the family before purchasing.

  • Is My Child Responsible Enough to Own a Cell Phone? 4 of 8
    responsible

    The right age for a child to get a cell phone is up to you. One family I know that has a young child with a cell phone is divorced and they wanted the child to be able to contact either parent at any time. That is what worked for their family. It's up to you as the parent to determine what age is right, and if your child is responsible enough to own a phone.

  • What Type of Cell Phone Do I Want To Buy My Child? 5 of 8
    type-of-cell-phone

    What services does your child need on their cell phone? Do they just need to text - and if so - would a standard $19.99 flip phone work? Perhaps you are wanting to splurge and get rid of their iPods to replace with a phone? These are things to think about before walking into a store to buy a phone. Set a budget. Know what features you want your child to have access to. Remember that smartphones (phones with web access and app access), typically carry a higher monthly data fee.

  • What Rules Will We Have for Cell Phone Usage? 6 of 8
    cell-phone-rules

    What rules will you set in place for your child and their cell phone? We were very strict, but this is what worked best for our home and family. View the kid cell phone contract we made our daughter sign and download your own template.

  • Who Are You Allowed to Call on Your Phone? 7 of 8
    who

    Who do you allow your child to call on their phone? Setting boundaries on who they are talking to, especially when the kids are young is very important to discuss.

  • When Can You Use Your Phone? 8 of 8
    when

    We didn't think about talking to our daughter about when she could FaceTime people when she just had an iPod Touch, and well - she is a morning person and would wake up relatives FaceTiming in wee hours of the morning. It wasn't until we received a polite ask from "night owl" Grandma for her to not FaceTime so early unless it's an emergency.

    All that said, when Z got her phone - we specifically put boundaries on the times she can use it and call. 

    Another thing is we make Z have her phone downstairs and plugged in by 7:30 on school nights. While she could use her phone as an alarm clock, we know that if she can't sleep - she will just play on it all night. 

    image: istock photo

Again, I believe that to each their own when deciding if their child should own a cell phone. For us, we are happy with the decision we have made, and have set strict boundaries with a cell phone contract. The phone for our daughter is a privilege, not a toy.

Download a Printable Kid Cell Phone Contract Template

What Are Your Thoughts on Kids and Cell Phones?

Molly blogs technologyparenting and geekery at Digital Mom Blog. Follow her on FacebookPinterest or Twitter.

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