Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bloggers Speed Call on Kids & Cell Phones

Yesterday, I wrote a post about the new demand from my younger kids (the 'tweens). They want cell phones and have given me arguments that seem reasonable. Or not.

So I delegated my parenting chores to fellow personal finance bloggers, including the crew at www.pfblogs.org.
This advice came from a Single Ma via email.

1) When do you think kids should have their own cell phone?

I would say at whatever age you allow the child to go places without you. Most kids, around age 13, begin to go places with their friends ( i.e. movies, skating, bowling, the mall, etc.) and have very little adult supervision. Because of this, I gave my daughter a cell phone at 13 so I could be in contact with her at ALL times. Plus, being a single mom and living in an area with no immediate family, this was important to me.

2) Do you make them pay for it? How do you work the finances?

Adding a 2nd line cost me an extra $9.99/month. I pay for the basic service but she pays for extra things (i.e. text msg, ring tones, wall paper, new face plate, belt clip) that I don't consider a necessity.

3) What are your ground rules about usage and responsibility?

As long as she doesn't exceed the shared minutes I've alloted to her, I'm ok. Whenever she does, it's taken away for leisurely purposes and used for emergencies only. She's overstepped her boundaries twice in the past six months, so we're on an indefinite "emergency only" basis.

Overall, I like the freedom it allows. I can call my child from anywhere, at anytime, any day. I can't be with her every minute, but I can call her whenever I need to. She's all I got so the cell phone relaxes my overprotective mommy fears. :-)

Here's the link to the other comments.

Here's a snippet from Michelle of Diary of a Mad Asian Woman:

"I think it's smart for kids to get a pay as you go phone. Then they can realize how much they are really using the phone and how costly it can be. When they pay for it themselves, they know not to blow all their minutes and to only use it when it is important or an emergency"....Michelle

Dawn of Frugal for Life

"1- Age depends, some 18 year olds are less responsible than 13 yr olds

2- Make them pay for it or at least half if they don't have a job

3- Pay as you go is the best deal, that way they keep track of the time they have left- budgeting." --Dawn at Frugal for Life

Lazy Man and Money
"I believe in starting them out early with a cell phone as long as it has GPS tracking for safety reasons.

That far outweighs a lot of the other considerations in my opinion.--Lazy Man and Money "

Blunt Money:
3) What are your ground rules about usage and responsibility?

"You lose it, you buy another one. Don't go over your minutes or text messages. Turn it off while in class. Keep the charger away from the pets, and unplug it when not in use." --Blunt Money

Hey guys, Thanks for answering my call!


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