Giving your teen a cell phone can offer you some sense of security–you can always get in touch with her and vice versa–but it also bears some risk as well. It’s important to understand these risks before you buy and to discuss rules and consequences regarding cell phone usage with your teen.
When you purchase a cell phone for your teen, you probably focused on the benefits of giving her one–the connection to you. Your teen may use it to call you when he needs a ride or is going to be a bit late coming home. He may also use it to call his friends. Most likely, he’s going to use it to send text messages to friends as well. Some cell phones allow teens to get online, connecting them to social media sites, like Facebook, and giving them the ability to look up information for research.
When your teen has a cell phone, she can easily send messages to others without having to go through you. One way that teens use their cell phones is a process called “sexting.” This means sending sexy text messages to others. Typically, these are text messages that state the sexual acts that the sender wants to do to the receiver. However, some teens also send nude or suggestive photos to others. Your teen may not even participate in the sexting, but she could receive these messages from others.
Contact the school to see what types of rules it has about cell phone usage among students. Most schools will allow students to bring their cell phones to school, but the cell phone must be kept in a locker during class, so as not to cause a classroom disruption. If your child is caught using a cell phone during class time, the teacher may take the phone away.
When you purchase a cell phone, you also purchase a plan along with it that includes a certain number of minutes and text messages that are free. Additional talking and messages cost more. If your teen uses the phone a great deal, and you don’t have a plan that covers this kind of usage, you may be shocked when you get the bill. It’s possible to rack up a bill quickly that’s hundreds or thousands of dollars. An additional danger is the possibility of bullying through the phone. If your child is being bullied at school and the bullies learn her cell phone number, they may start sending mean messages or prank calling her phone, which can upset your teen.
Safety Features and Parental Controls
If you are concerned about cell phone use, you can often purchase add-on services that help you to limit your teen’s use. For example, you can block certain numbers for sending and receiving calls and disable certain websites on Internet-enabled phones. Additionally, some cell phones are equipped with global positioning service devices, which can allow you to track your teen’s movement.