The phone age
According to retailer The Carphone Warehouse, 91 per cent of 12-year-olds in the UK own a mobile phone. Is a mobile vital for their safety and independence… or an expensive, unnecessary distraction?
Giving your tween a phone means:
- Peace of mind: you can keep tabs on her 24/7 (assuming that she keeps her phone switched on…)
- She’ll be able to ring for help if she needs a lift home, feels unsafe or simply wants to check in with you.
- You can monitor who she’s talking to and texting (although you may not feel comfortable invading her privacy in this way).
- A mobile provides children who live apart from their mother or father with a private hotline to the non-resident parent (and vice versa).
The downside of mobiles (besides the incessant ringtones):
- You’ll (probably) pay for it. To avoid crazy bills, stick to a pay-as-you-go tariff and agree a weekly or monthly amount that you’ll pay for; explain that if she uses it up, you’ll restrict her use to incoming and emergency calls only.
- It could be bad for her health. Recent research from Sweden suggests that using a mobile phone increases children’s risk of developing brain cancer and deafness in later life. Buy your child a headset and encourage her to text rather than talk.
- Mobile phone theft is a very real problem.
- Children who have phones are vulnerable to cyber bullying and other forms of mobile abuse.
- Make sure your child keeps her mobile out of sight, but within easy reach for emergencies. Show her how to make a phone call without drawing attention to herself.
- Make sure your child uses the ‘caller identity’ facility on her phone, so she can see at a glance who’s contacting her.
- Add your direct line, marked ‘please call in an emergency’ to her contact list. If she’s involved in an accident, anyone who finds the phone will be able to contact you immediately.
- Tell your child to alert you without delay if she receives any unknown or dubious calls, texts or pictures, and inform the police if you’re concerned.
- It’s possible to install a tracking device on your child’s mobile; you can also purchase a phone with a built-in tracker.
Now tell us what worked for you…
Did you buy your tween a mobile?