When I left my house when I was young, my parents would tell me to check in every hour. I had no cell phone, no pager, no way to check in other than use the house phone at a friends house or run to the local payphone and pop in a dime. Then pagers came along, then cell phones, and nowadays there are camera phones, text messaging, and internet, just about everything is accessible to kids on their phones.
I believe giving a child a fully loaded cell phone is the worst decision a parent can make. A plain cell phone with limited minutes or a pre-paid cell phone “just for emergencies” is fine but kids don’t use the phones of today “just for emergencies”. Parents buy their kids phones that enable the kids to access everything the parents may ban at home. Here are just a few examples of what kids are doing with their cell phones:
Sending explicit photos of themselves or messages to their friends.
Sending threats or rumors to others that usually end up in a fight.
Filming fights at school or gang fights and posting them on the internet site called youtube or myspace.
Disobeying school rules by sending text messages to each other across the room, campus, or even across town.
Causing automobile accidents by trying to read or send text messages while driving.
Notify each other of where the party will be, who has drugs for sale, where to meet when they sneak out, all without parent’s knowledge.
Text to each other late at night without parent’s knowledge that the child is even awake.
Access the internet and inappropriate web sites including porn sites.
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Filming each other breaking the law or doing dangerous stunts.
These are just a few! I’m shocked to see some of the photos and text messaging on kid’s phones nowadays, especially at the Junior High level. Things a parent would be shocked over too.
Why does your child really need a camera in their phone?
Why does your child really need a phone that they can type messages on?
Why does your child need unlimited minutes and text messaging?
Why does your child need a phone that takes movies?
Why does your child need a phone where they can access the internet without supervision?
We didn’t need these things when we were growing up, why do kids of today need phones that fancy?
How about a bare plain cell phone with a limited amount of minutes? Afraid of going over the minutes? Then get your child a pre-paid cell phone. You purchase minutes from local convenience stores or on-line and when the minutes are gone, the phone wont work except for dialing 911. For emergencies, that’s all they need!
That way your kids can still have a phone in case of an emergency but can’t do inappropriate things with it or rack up huge bills.
If you still want your kids to have a fully loaded phone that does everything, at least monitor your kid’s phones. Learn how the phones work and access your kids phones to see what pictures are there, what messages are stored, what they are accessing on their phone. Closely look at the phone bill to see who they are calling or texting, what internet sites they are visiting. You’ll be amazed what some of these kids are doing. Go to your service provider and they will show you how to access the menu and features in your child’s phone. You might be surprised or even shocked at what you find.
You can also get phones with GPS now. You can go on the computer and see exactly where your child is (or at least where their phone is). I wish they had that feature when my kids were growing up.
If you have a mature child that acts responsible with a cell phone, great. But I see too many young kids using cell phones for the wrong reasons.
Nowadays it’s too easy for kids to lie about where they are, what they are doing or who they are with.
How about going back to sending your kid out the door with a pocketful of quarters and telling them to check in every hour?
The last thing we need is to give our kids the opportunity to be able to do things while they are away from home that they are not allowed to do at home. And by giving a child a fully loaded full feature cell phone, that’s exactly what you are doing.