It’s inevitable. Your child is going to ask you for a cell phone at some point and more than likely, it’ll be before you are ready. I have dealt with this issue with my kids and I’m going to share some of my insight.

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Answering The Big “When” Question

The biggest question most parents have is when to buy your child their first cell phone. Unfortunately, that answer isn’t easy. It differs for each child.

For my oldest (boy), he got his cell phone when he graduated from 5th grade and was moving up to middle school. He was starting to be more independent and I wanted to be able to contact him when I needed to know where he was. We felt he was responsible enough.

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My second child was in 4th grade when she got her first cell phone.  I saw how nice it was for my older son to have the phone to contact me (or me contact him) so we took the plunge earlier with her.

5 Tips For Your Child’s  First Cell Phone

1. Before you buy the phone, sit down with your child and be sure the rules are clearly laid out. AT&T has a downloadable cell phone safety agreement for you and your child to go through and sign.

2. Set up the parental controls on the phone before you give the phone to your child. He/she will be so excited when they see the phone and they will not want to wait for you to set up the parental controls. Do it before they ever see the phone. Safely Phone Controls lets you control how and when your child can use the phone.

3. Model the cell phone behavior you want to see in your child. If you spend dinner checking email on your phone, don’t be surprised when you kids do the same. Show your children proper phone etiquette and they will follow.

Nathan learning to drive.

Nathan learning to drive.

You may think it’s too early to discuss driving and cell phone safety, but it is never too early to show your kids that texting while driving is a definite NO!

4. Set up consequences. There will be times where your child will misuse the phone. Set up the consequences from the start so they know exactly what will happen if they don’t follow the rules.

5. Follow school rules. All schools have difference cell phone policies. Contact the school so both you and your child know the policies.

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You won’t be able to plan for everything that may go wrong or come up, but the more you discuss before hand, the less confusion there will be later. When my daughter first got her phone, she didn’t text much, so we didn’t talk about it.

A few years later, she started texting with a friend and we didn’t realize how much she was texting until we got a $200 texting bill. If we had talked to her about texting from the start, we may have prevented that big bill.

What suggestions do you have for first time cell phone buying parents?

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Location Labs, the makers of Safely apps for families and publishers of “Safely Times,” a monthly newsletter offering tips and resources for parenting in a digital age.” All opinions are 100% my own.

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