With the low price of phones and plans, our increasing reliance on cell phone technology, and the peace of mind cell phones can bring to parents, it’s pretty much a given that teenagers today should have a cell phone once they understand the implications of ownership. Parents who involve their teen in the decision behind buying a cell phone are taking advantage of a great opportunity to teach their teen responsibility and to foster trust.
Paying for the plan
Family plans are arguably the cheapest way to pay for cell phones, so looking into adding a line to your existing plan would be a great place to start. Many family plans also include unlimited minutes between family members, meaning that your teen will be able to keep in unlimited contact with you when they are out with their friends, without having to worry about going over their allotted minutes.
If you’re wondering what kind of extras to add on to your teen’s plan, understand that this depends on your teen as an individual. For the most part, it’s usually a good idea to keep the experience simple, but there are also practical things to take into account.
For example, understand that teens text each other much, much more than you’d think. If you add your teen to your phone plan with a low number of texts, you could find yourself paying huge overage fees each month. Because most teens text more than they actually talk, it’s probably a good idea to consider lowering your teen’s monthly voice minutes in exchange for an unlimited texting plan.
When it comes to data plans and other extras, this also depends on your teen. Although GPS, internet, and other bonuses are great, they are certainly not a necessary part of your teen’s first cell phone. Explain to your teen that cell phone add-ons are extremely expensive, and as such, they will either have to be earned or paid for out of their own pocket.
Start them on a basic phone, this will keep the cost down and give them something to earn. Construct, with their input, a contract of rules regarding use of the cell phone, and make sure they understand the limits on their plan. Be sure they understand the following aspects of their bill:
- How many minutes they have each month
- How many text messages they can send and receive
- Whether they can send or receive picture messages without extra fees
- Whether their phone can access the internet without extra fees
Consider requiring your teen to pay for any overages with their own money, as this will teach them to stay within the limits of their cell phone plan.
In addition to helping them understand the basic rules of their plan, consider laying down extra guidelines pertaining to usage. For example, when is the cutoff time for cell phone use at home? Are they allowed to take their phone to bed with them? Do you plan to read through their text messages? Are they permitted to use their phone during dinner and other family activities? Although it might seem unnecessary to discuss these things, making clear rules before your teen gets their cell phone will make life much easier after they do.
Parenting through the teen years can be extremely difficult, and if things have gotten out of control, there’s no shame in admitting that you need the help of an expert. The qualified staff at Christian boarding Schools are an excellent resource for helping you and your family through the trying teenage years. Specializing in treating troubled and at-risk teens, these schools approach education with a balance of discipline and love, and their methods have helped countless teens transform into intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually healthy young adults.