As a parent to a teenager, you’ve probably been asked more than once if they can get a cell phone.
With more children and teenagers getting cell phones at earlier ages, it can be challenging to know when it is the right time for your troubled teen to receive a cell phone of their own.
If you’re currently debating if now is the right time, ask yourself these questions:
- Does my teen need a cell phone? Will it make both of our lives easier?
- Is my child responsible enough to have a cell phone?
- Is this a decision we came to on our own or was our teen pressuring us for one?
- Will my teen be safe when using an unsupervised cell phone?
Before committing to getting them a phone, it’s essential to understand the benefits and arguments against giving them a cell phone so that you can have a well-rounded perspective.
Advantages of providing your teen with a cell phone
Determining if it’s the right time to provide your troubled teen with a cell phone can be a difficult decision. While there are plenty of benefits to them having a phone of their own, there are just as many arguments against it for you to consider.
To better equip you in your decision, here are a few reasons why it’s a good idea for your teen to have a cell phone:
- Communication – Whether your teen is staying after school to work on a class project or spending the night at a friend’s house, a cell phone enables you to get in touch with them at the click of a button. This can be important in situations where circumstances change, such as sports practice ending early or needing a ride home, where they might need to get a hold of you.
- Emergencies – In the event of an emergency, you need to be able to get in touch with your troubled teenager quickly. Whether your child is involved in a fender bender or faces a tragedy such as a school shooting where they need to let you know they’re alright, a cell phone provides you both with a lifeline to one another.
- Responsibility – Having a cell phone is a significant responsibility and not something that should be taken lightly. When you decide to provide your troubled teenager with a cell phone, sit down with them to discuss the significance behind it. Owning a phone will help teach them responsibility by following their phone plan’s coverage limitations, avoiding losing it, and keeping it in pristine condition.
- GPS tracking – Do you ever wonder where your teenager spends their evenings? Are they continually pushing the limit on their curfew? Have they been known to cut class? Whether you need to keep an eye on your teen’s location or like the added benefit of having this capability, a cell phone can make that possible.
- Fitting in – As a teenager, fitting in with their peers is extremely important. No one wants to feel like an outsider. While you don’t want to get your child a cell phone due to peer pressure, you do want to consider if not having a cell phone will cause them to feel like outsiders in their friend group.
Arguments against a cell phone for your teen
While there are plenty of reasons to back up the decision to get your teen a cell phone, it’s always a good idea to consider both the pros and cons.
Here are a few reasons why you might hold off on getting your troubled teen their phone for a bit longer:
- Distraction – If your troubled teen struggles to stay focused during class or has a difficult time sitting down to do their homework after school, a cell phone is only going to provide them with another unneeded distraction. In more serious scenarios, your teenager might take their eyes off the road while driving to answer a text message, leading to serious or deadly injuries.
- Unrestricted Internet – When your teen has a cell phone, they essentially have unrestricted access to the Internet. While there are ways for parents to monitor and block certain websites, there’s still a chance your teen will be able to communicate with the outside world with very little supervision. This means they might be browsing sites they aren’t allowed or communicating with individuals they shouldn’t be. Similarly, a cell phone makes them more susceptible to predators who now have an unsupervised form of communication they can use with your teen.
- Cost – The cost of a new phone is expensive, not to mention the additional charges for adding another member to your cell phone plan. If your teenager isn’t responsible, they may break or lose the cell phone — leaving you to foot the cost for another. Not to mention, they might not respect your phone’s data plan and run up additional charges each month by going over the specified amount of data, texts, and minutes allowed.
- Behavior issues – If your troubled teen is already exhibiting behavior problems, it might be best to hold off getting them a cell phone of their own for a while. Cell phones make it easier for your teen to get into trouble, whether that involves cyberbullying, taking and sending inappropriate photos, or making prank calls.
Should my teenager have their own cell phone?
Now that we’ve gone over a few reasons why your teen could benefit from a cell phone, as well as the reasons against it, it’s time for you to decide whether or not they are ready for a phone of their own. Deciding if they should have a cell phone doesn’t mean it has to be a free-for-all — you can help them earn more leeway by easing them into the responsibility of owning a phone.
Here are a few ways to help make the transition go a bit more smoothly:
- If your teen is likely to disregard your current plan’s data, text, and minutes limits, you may want to consider purchasing them a prepaid phone with a set number of minutes to begin with. This will help them learn to stay within the constraints of the plan without running up extra charges on your monthly bill while they get the hang of everything.
- Opt for a phone that has parental features allowing you to limit web access, phone calls, and text messaging during specific hours of the day. This will ensure that your teen isn’t getting distracted in class or while driving.
- Install or sign up for GPS tracking software on the phone, so you can know where your teen is at all times. Even if you don’t feel the need to use it, you’ll be glad to have it installed in case of an emergency.
Deciding whether or not it’s the right time for your teen to get a cell phone can be a difficult decision. If your troubled teen’s behavior is getting out of hand and you’re unsure if you can trust them with a phone of their own, it may be time to seek treatment from a professional therapist.
At Help Your Teen Now, we can help you find the right support system for your teenager.
Call Help Your Teen Now for a free consultation to answer all your questions about teen help programs like residential treatment centers.