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What kind of cell phone should I give my preteen?

Shawn Edgington
Pediatrics
For children aged between 11 and 13 years, choose a cell phone that fits your family's needs, and then add the unlimited texting plan to your child's number. Be sure to add a "parental control" feature to the number, which will allow you to control when your child can text. The parental control feature also provides your child the ability to "block" anyone who harasses or threatens them by text message. With parental controls, you will also be able to restrict Internet access and the ability to purchase items from their phones.

Consider purchasing insurance and the location/zoning service for this age group. Contact your wireless provider to have the multimedia message (MMS) feature -- sending photos and videos by text -- disabled to avoid the risk and exposure to sexting.

While there's no magic type of cell phone or even age to buy the first phone, it's a decision you'll have to face at some point if you're a parent. It's important to weigh your options and make sure the decision is right for you and your preteen.

If you're thinking about taking the plunge, research the type of phone you're going to buy first. Smartphone's are the "in" thing, but is your preteen ready to navigate the internet, download apps, create social networking sites, visit chat rooms, take pics and upload them on the computer? They're called "Smartphone's" for a reason and even though they're super cool to kids, they may be a little too advanced for your preteen to start with. If your kid is not ready for all that a Smartphone has to offer then you might want to consider starting them out with a basic phone. If you decide to purchase a phone, help your child understand your expectations.

Here are some general guidelines to help you decide whether or not your preteen is ready for a phone.

Why does your preteen need a phone?

Questions to ask:

  1. Have you dropped your residential service and your kid's giving out your mobile number to their friends? :()
  2. Is your kid constantly on the go? A cell's a great way to keep track of your kid. If practice is running late or canceled a quick text solves the problem and everyone's in the loop.
  3. Are you dropping your residential line? It could be cheaper to add another mobile line to your existing plan.
  4. Are you upgrading your cell phone and have an old one to pass down?
  5. Is your kid ready for a cell?
  • Will he remember to keep it charged?
  • Can he keep up with his things or is he constantly misplacing them?
  • Are you going to have to remind him to turn the phone on and off?

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.