Giving your child a cell phone doesn’t have to be a scary thing

 

I distinctly remember my first cell phone. It was NOT a flip phone, but it was a very basic phone. When it was off, the lock screen was a panda that waved, so my sisters and I called it the panda phone. Why did my sisters call it that, too? Because we SHARED our first cell phone! Yep, no lie. I was 19, and my sisters were 18 and 21. We were in college 12 hours away from home, and it was a cheaper way for our parents to talk to us, instead of long distance charges. So we shared one phone amongst the three of us.

Looking back, this seems crazy, but it was pretty cool back then! Not too many of our friends had cell phones.Giving Your Child a Cell Phone Doesn't Have to Be Scary

Cell Phone Thoughts

Cell phones are a difficult thing for parents today. There’s so much negative public opinion on the RIGHT time to get a cell phone for your children. And I can’t just fall back on the thought of “I didn’t get a cell phone until 19, so my child doesn’t need one until then, either!” mentality, because that’s just unrealistic. Seriously.

My oldest child has been putting a cell phone on his Christmas and birthday wish list since he was 8. I laughed about that (maybe even to his face?) but as the years have gone on, this has become more of a consideration. This year, on his 12th birthday, he finally got his phone.

Because people have wondered our reasoning at doing it at THIS point, here they are.

  • He’s in middle school, 7th grade. Last year, in 6th grade, we did virtual school from home, so it wasn’t necessary. Anywhere he went, I was with him. But this year, he’s going to the local public school. He’s also trying out for volleyball in a couple months, so he’ll have to stay after school and let me know when he’s done with practice.
  • He’s shown himself relatively trustworthy with expensive items. He got a computer last year to do his virtual school on, and it’s still in great shape after over a year. I feel that he can be trusted to take care of the phone.
  • He is a very responsible child. This kind of goes with the last point, but I feel that he can be trusted to not do the wrong things with his phone.

The Cell Phone

Now, I’m not saying we just bought him the latest high priced phone and let him go free. Oh, no! We have set up a handful of rules and safeguards that will (hopefully!) keep him safe.

We bought him this phone, the Blu Advance 4.0 L3.

My husband and I both have Blu phones. They’re androids, and we like them because they aren’t too pricey, but they have great quality. Because I’m rough on my phones (cough, cough, five kids) I like that I can buy a new one every year or so when the screen gets cracked beyond use, and it’s less than $150 for most phones. The one we bought our son was $49, so I feel like it’s not too big of an investment if it gets ruined. It still has all the features of a higher priced model, and comes in white, black, rose gold, gold and grey. He chose the black one.

It came with the USB charger, earbuds, protective cover and clear silicone case. The silicone case is fine for me, because my phone mostly stays on the counter, in my pocket or in my purse. For a 12 year old boy and his backpack, we needed something tougher.

He used some of his birthday money from grandparents to purchase this case for the phone. It’s a tough hybrid with dual layer shock proof drop protection. He chose the blue case, but also comes in several other colors.

The Cell Phone Rules

He is so excited about his new phone, but we did put down some rules. We didn’t put them on paper, like a contract, because we feel like that’s just a piece of paper that’s not official or anything. But we did stress the guidelines.

  • Even though the phone was a gift, it still belongs to Mom and Dad. We are allowed to take it at any time and look through it. We are also allowed to take it away if we feel it is necessary (although this would have to be an extreme case).
  • You do not have any social media apps on it. This is more for just this next year. All of the Social Media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) are not legally allowed to have members under the age of 13. Since he is 12, he’s not allowed (legally) on the sites. While we could lie and state his birth year is sooner than it is, we don’t condone lying, especially just for Social Media. We will have to rethink this on his next birthday.
  • The phone does not go in the bedroom. If you’re playing games, watching videos, texting/talking with friends, you do it in the main rooms of the house.
  • You don’t talk to anyone you don’t personally know. This goes for calling, texting, video chatting, chatting in games, etc. Any way you could possibly communicate with someone, it had better be someone you ACTUALLY KNOW.

That’s it. We don’t have a lot of rules, but I feel like these really cover our main concerns. His phone is hooked up to my Google account, so I can see what he’s getting from the app store, what he’s watching on Youtube and other things.

The Cell Phone Plan

The other thing that’s a big concern sometimes for parents is the added cost of an extra line to the family cell phone plan. If you’re not like my dad, who still has the same plan he originally purchased back in 2001 (so cheap, with great options, by today’s standards!) then adding and extra line can run roughly $50 a month, for something that isn’t used to it’s full extent.

I researched and researched and researched (because that’s what I do!) and came across US Mobile. You can customize the plan to fit your needs, so I love that for a child. He’s got 100 texts and 100 minutes a month, at the moment, with no data. He doesn’t need data, and he’ll be able to use the Wifi at home and school, and practically anywhere else he goes. So for $7 a month, he’s set. I also like that as he gets more friends added to his phone, or we notice that he’s getting close to his 100 texts or minutes, we can add to his plan whenever. It might take us a month or two to find the sweet spot with what he needs, but he’s fine at the moment.

The Cell Phone Future

I feel like the cell phone issues will be constantly re-evaluated at our house. As he gets older, we’ll need to get our son more minutes and texts. Or we might allow it in his room so he can do homework while listening to music, etc. But we’ll address those as needed.

Another consideration is the fact that he has a sister in 6th grade. Will she need a cell phone this year? Maybe next year when she starts 7th grade, like her brother? But she’ll only be 11 …

There are so many considerations. Parenting doesn’t come with one answer that you can find in a book somewhere. Every family and situation is different. If my 5th grader walked home to an empty house each day, would I get my 10 year old a cell phone? You better believe it! You have to trust your instincts in each situation. And if you’re instincts lead you down the wrong path, don’t hesitate to stop and head a different direction.

 

<— Pin this image to save it! —>Why We Got Our Middle Schooler a Cell Phone

 

1 Comment

  • cecelia October 7, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    how are you
    hi
    i am good mom
    i am help chillds
    i am help they go toschool

    Reply

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