The Concerned Parent’s Guide to Tween Cell Phone Monitoring
Cell phone use is consistently on the rise for people of all ages, but especially for the younger set called “tweens.” A “tween” is a child who is no longer little but isn’t yet a teenager. The term “tween” refers to kids who are between the ages of 8 and 12, and making the big transition from elementary to junior high school. And as they begin using this technology, parents must be ready for the challenges of cell phone monitoring.
Research from the National Consumers League shows that around 50 percent of tweens have cell phones that range from standard basic phones with no texting or web access to smartphones. But how do you know that your tween is ready for the responsibility of using a cell phone?
Considerations for Cell Phone Use for Tweens
Parents are providing their tweens with cell phones for many reasons, including safety and the ability to contact their child whenever they want. As parents research purchasing a cell phone for their tween, the essential question becomes: what do tweens really need when it comes to cell phone service?
This questions leads to additional ones, including:
- What are the reasons that your tween wants a cell phone?
- What are your reasons for providing a cell phone?
- Does your tween show responsibility and self-discipline in other areas of life, such as school, chores, homework, and sports?
- Does your tween tend to lose important items?
- How much does your tween know about appropriate texting and cell phone behavior?
- How much are you willing to spend on a cell phone?
- What kinds of cell phone monitoring will be appropriate?
The answers to these questions can help inform parents regarding what kind of cell phone use is appropriate for their tweens.
Smartphones, though popular, are not necessary nor developmentally appropriate for tweens.
When children are just learning how to ride a bike, parents don’t buy them a top of the line ten speed and let them go for it. Instead, parents try to prepare their children and set them up for success when learning the important skills that go along with riding a two-wheeled bike. They give their children a small bicycle that has been designed for their specific place in childhood development, many times providing training wheels so that their kids can practice without getting hurt.
It is essential for parents to think about cell phones – especially smartphones – in the same light. It would not be wise to provide a tween between the ages of 8 and 12 with a brand new iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, or even a smartphone, for that matter.
Instead, set up tweens for success by providing them with a very basic model of a cell phone that they can use to make phone calls – even texting is not required. This kind of basic cell phone use can take away many of the worries that go along with tweens using cell phones. Also, this allows parents to get used to a cell phone monitoring system, and discuss that reality with their tweens.
Utilize a Prepaid Cell Phone Plan
One of the biggest parent complaints about tweens and cell phone usage is the tendency for tweens to go over a plan’s calling or data minutes. Even though family calling plans may be reasonably priced, the “minute” setup can be too ambiguous for tweens to understand.
For adults, the comparison can be made using the United States National Debt. Up to the minute information can be found regarding just exactly how much the United States of America is in debt, which is currently almost 18 Trillion dollars.
The idea of any number of “trillions” of dollars is an impossible amount of money for the brain to comprehend; this is similar to how tweens view the cell phone calling, texting and data minutes they are allotted every month. To alleviate present and future arguments with tweens concerning whether or not too many minutes are being used, parents can instead purchase a prepaid cell phone plan which can be purchased through any major cell phone provider.
The prepaid cell phone plans currently on the market are affordable, convenient, and easy to use. Tweens can check the balance of their remaining minutes any time, either by phone or computer. And when the minutes are gone for the month, then they are gone.
Create a Cell Phone Contract With Your Tween
It is essential to provide limits and boundaries for tweens, and cell phone use is no exception. Besides cell phone monitoring, cell phone contracts can set the limits very clearly, allowing parents time to discuss important information with their tweens about cell phone use.
A cell phone contract can be customized for your needs, addressing many issues that include:
- Always answer texts or calls from parents
- Keep the cell phone in good working condition
- Keep the phone charged at all times
- Show parents any harassing phone calls or texts
- Show parents calls or texts from unknown people
- Do not send mean texts to other people
- Do not send or receive call or texts after 9 p.m.
- Do not take or post embarrassing photos of yourself or others
- Do not argue about needing more cell phone minutes
The cell phone will be taken away as a consequence for any of the following:
- Homework that is not completed and/or turned in
- Chores left unfinished
- Using the cell phone at school
- Ignoring people in order to be on my phone, especially in public places
- Losing or breaking the phone (in this case, the phone would not be replaced)
These are simply ideas to start with for parents to create cell phone contracts of their own. Considering that 89 percent of parents surveyed who provided their tween with a cell phone do not regret it, these kinds of contracts are going to become more important than ever, along with cell phone monitoring as tweens grow through this developmental stage.