Teaching Children to Use Cell Phones Safely and Responsibly

Teaching children responsible cell phone use can be tricky, perhaps because many adults don’t use cell phones safely, or appropriately. People talk while they drive. Phones still ring in quiet movie theaters. People carry on conversations while in line at the grocery store.

A lot of it comes down to common sense. You shouldn’t talk or text while driving—in states like California and New York it’s illegal to drive and talk on a phone without a hands-free device (Bluetooth, etc.).

Teaching kids to be courteous is also important. Don’t talk loudly in public places. Keep phones tucked away during classes or meetings, and if you receive a call while in a group setting, ignore it or excuse yourself.

But don’t stop there. Consider making kids responsible for their minutes by using their allowances to help pay for the bill. Perhaps you could reward good grades or good behavior with extra minutes, or a long-desired texting plan.

Safety is most important, and is likely the deciding factor in parents buying a phone for their children. Phones with parental controls will keep unknown calls from coming through, but kids should still be taught not to accept calls from people they don’t know. Always program 911 into a child’s phone and teach them about using emergency numbers.

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