When your kids head back to school, should there be smartphone in their backpacks? Many parents have questions about the right time to give their children a phone, how to pick the right phone and plan, and what kinds of rules to enforce.
Many kids now seem to be getting phones between the ages of nine and 11, but just because your child is in that age range doesn't mean he or she needs one.
A phone might be useful to a child who walks alone to school, takes the bus alone, waits a long time after school to be picked up, or participates in after-school activities independently.
Many kids feel they need a phone because their friends use the devices to access social media.
What kind of phone should you get?
You should definitely get a smartphone — not outdated technology like a flip phone or feature phone.
But don't get a high-end iPhone because your child is a child and will almost certainly break or lose the device.
What kind of plan should you get?
Start with a pay-as-you-go plan so you can see how much your child is using the phone. You don't want to go unlimited at the start.
Plans that allow family members to share minutes and data may also be an affordable option.
What kind of rules should you consider?
Try a written contract with your child spelling out the rules. One of his rules is that phones aren't allowed at the dinner table. Parents of older children might also want to talk about cyber bullying and sexting.
Make the children responsible for any extra charges caused by them going over their data limits.
Should you put software on the phone to track your child?
If you do, you shouldn't do it without the child's knowledge or risk violating their trust, but you should be clear that it's to help them in case the phone is lost or stolen and not to spy on them.