Yes, it's big controversy time . . . should you or shouldn't you get your kid a cell phone? The argument for cell phones is safety and responsibility. Against? Money, money, money and money. We've all heard those horror stories about kids getting $10,000 text message bills. If you think your kid is ready to make the leap to owning a cell phone, here's how you can do it without eventually filing for bankruptcy.
Rules that can't be broken: We've all seen the ads saying you can buy one new cell phone and get four for free. My parents are always asking me about this; why oh why would companies just give away those magical, futuristic phones for free? Well, because you get one, and give the rest to little Joey and little Jamie and before you know it, your cell phone bill is nearing catastrophic numbers. Well, there are new plans where you can create a preset plan and number of minutes, so the kids cannot go over your monthly budget no matter how hard they try.
Adding a line: Some phones now let you add a line to your existing cell phone, with a separate ring and everything. This is a great way to practice cell phone responsibility without actually purchasing a new phone. Little Joey's special ring tone chimes and he comes running to talk to his friends. You'll know exactly who he is talking to, for how long and can find out quickly if he is a good candidate for his own phone. This works with your existing monthly plan, so you'll be able to stick to your budget.
It's about being safe: There is a whole category of new phones specifically for the younger crowd where you have a pay-as-you-go or a prepaid plan. The phone allows only four numbers: mom, dad, 911 and grandma, for instance. The administrator, who can also set the allotted number of minutes for the user, can determine the security levels of the phone. Some offer GPS tracking devices and can even block certain numbers from coming into the phone.
If you want your children to have a cell phone, there are cheap ways to get them. For many parents, knowing they can reach their child 24/7 offers peace of mind, and knowing that the cell phone bill will always be in control offers some sanity.