When Should You Give Your Child a Cell Phone?

4 tips from real moms on how to make this difficult parenting decision as part of the Care.com Interview Series.

two girls sleeping over

They're everywhere. Now, it seems nearly every 'tween and teen out there has some kind of cell phone. According to a survey by Consumer Reports, nearly six out of 10 U.S. parents of children ages 8 to 12 (a.k.a. "tweeners" or tweens) have provided their children with cell phones. But with that decision comes some challenging parenting questions, like: How can we keep our kids safe? How can we teach them about texting properly? How can we stop them from running up our bill?

Recently, one parent's 18-point iPhone contract with her son went viral, sparking much conversation and debate as to how one might best control these compact devices in teenagers' hot little hands.

We asked four of our favorite bloggers how they handled this tough parenting decision, and what rules they set in place for themselves (and their kids) in order to be a great cell phone parent. Read these tips for being a great cell phone parent below!

  1. Keep It Simple, for Safety's Sake
    Like many moms, Kimberly Vetrano (She Scribes) is vigilant when it comes to the people who surround her child - even virtually! "Don't give a young child a phone with Internet access. They don't need it, plus it makes them vulnerable to pedophiles and cyber bullying," she advises.

    Read how Kimberly decided her children were ready for a phone

  2. Be a Proactive Parent
    Good Day, Regular People blogger Alexandra Rosas cannot stress enough how important it is to be pro-active, not re-active. "Do not wait for a situation to arise, but instead work to prevent that situation," she says. "Keep on guard, be the sentinel they need you to be as they navigate their new freedom."

    See how texting brought Alexandra and her son closer together

  3. Think Before You Hit Send
    Missy Chase Lapine (The Sneaky Chef) has great advice for our young texters: "When it comes to texting, make sure they know every word they write is part of their permanent record and they should "think twice, text once" - only write what you wouldn't mind being published on the front page of the newspaper!"

    Find out where Missy draws the line on teenage texting in her home

  4. Set Rules In Writing
    All of our bloggers have strict sets of rules that they laid down in writing before handing over a phone to their child. Blogger Jen Andrade (The Mom Jen) made sure her daughter knew her rules inside and out before handing over an iPhone 4. "We require that she answer when we call, take care of it, that she knows it's not a 'toy' and will not abuse privileges. We also ask that the smartphone be checked by parents upon request."

    See what other important rules Jen put in writing for her teen's iPhone

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