In this high tech world we live in, children are getting more and more attracted to computers, laptops, cellphones and other expensive gadgets out there. Chances are, if your child has already reached the middle school stage, he or she is probably begging and wheedling you to get him or her a cellphone. This is understandable. Cellphones have become a “status symbol” as well as a sign of “adulthood” for “tweeners”. If they want to become a part of the “in crowd” or become accepted by their peers, they need to have a cellphone.
However, before you give in to your child’s demands, there are certain important questions that you need to consider. Give these questions a lot of thought so that you can properly evaluate whether or not it is necessary that your child should have such an expensive gadget…
1) Do you – as a parent – honestly believe that your child needs a cellphone? Obviously, cellphones have its advantages. It is easier for them to contact their child at school and vice versa. Kids can call them up in case they are let out of school early because of suspensions or if they have finished with club meetings and team practices. Some parents would like to keep track of their kids’ whereabouts at all times and provide them with a cellphone with GPS capabilities.
2) Does your child have special needs? Suffice to say, giving your child a cellphone is justified if he or she has a chronic illness like diabetes, asthma and/or allergies, or other health problems. A cellphone will enable your child to call you in case of a medical emergency. Put important contact numbers in the cellphone on speed dial. Make sure that you also teach him/her how to call 911.
3) Is your child responsible enough to own a cellphone? Remember that cellphones can be very expensive. If your child has a tendency to lose or misplace their personal belongings, it may not be advisable to buy them a cellphone. Before you buy them one, challenge your child to become more organized and observe proper care of his/her stuff. Give him/her 3 to 4 months at the most to develop good organization skills. If he/she is successful, only then can you buy the cellphone. Another consideration is the cost of a cellphone subscription. Rather than get a postpaid plan, go for prepaid instead. This way, you can limit the costs as well as usage of your child’s phone for more important matters.
4) Does your child get distracted easily? A cellphone is not advisable especially if your child gets easily distracted. Research has shown that many kids have gotten into serious accidents because they have been texting or talking to someone on their cellphone.
5) Does your child have good interactions with their friends/peers? Texting and chatting over the cellphone should never replace face-to-face communications/interactions between your child and their friends.
6) Does your child understand the dangers of owning a cellphone? Children are vulnerable to a number of dangers with cellphone usage. A common danger is that your child may give out his/her cellphone number to strangers who intend to do him/her harm. Your child can also become exposed to sexting and cyber-bullying. Since there are phones that can connect to the Internet, your child can have access to violent video games and sexual content.
Don’t just give in to your middle-schooler’s demands for a cellphone. Always consider the questions above before making your decision.
Middle Schoolers and Cellphones
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