National Consumers League

Technology

NCL Technology Issues

Tweens and cell phones: Setting the rules of the road

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Tweens and cell phones: Setting the rules of the roadManaging usage of your tween’s new cell phone can easily become a source of conflict unless clear rules are set ahead of time. Since each tween is different, the rules they are expected to follow will differ. However, there are many areas that parents and tweens should have an understanding about to ensure responsible use.

  • Set a monthly budget and stick with it. Be clear about our commitment to avoiding overages (for postpaid plans) or your willingness to purchase additional minutes (for prepaid plans),
  • Discuss whether the phone may be used for making purchases of ringtones, apps, games, etc. If you don’t want it used for these, consider setting up parental controls to block these features.
  • Talk to your children about cyberbullying. A quarter (26 percent) of teens report having been bullied or harassed through text messages and phone calls. Discuss strategies for handling cyberbullying responsibly.
  • Discuss inappropriate use of the phone. “Sexting” or sending or receiving inappropriate photos can quickly come back to haunt a tween.
  • Discuss whom the tween is and is not allowed to contact with their phone. A good strategy is to program in all allowable numbers into the phone’s contact list so that the caller ID function shows who is calling. Be clear about whether you want your child to answer calls from unknown numbers.
  • Make sure your tween knows not to give out their cell number to people they don’t know, particularly online.
  • Make sure your tween knows about distracted biking. Just as adults need to make sure and avoid texting while driving, tweens should remember to keep their eyes on the road, not their cell phones, while they’re on two wheels or walking in public places where traffic could be an issue.

For more information on managing your child’s wireless usage, click here.

NCL thanks TracFone Wireless for its support for these tips for smart and safe family use of cell phones.