National Consumers League

Technology

NCL Technology Issues

Tweens and cell phones: A guide for responsible use

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Tweens and cell phonesCell phones are becoming increasingly common among younger teens and tweens. To help parents manage their tween’s use of a cell phone, NCL has put together advice for families on how to shop for tweens’ phones, how to keep down costs, and how to set some simple rules to make sure a child doesn’t misuse the phone.

Cell phones seem to be as much a part of teenage life as schoolwork, hanging out at the mall, and obsessing over what to wear to prom. But these days, children are beginning to receive their first wireless phones at progressively younger ages. According to a new 2012 NCL survey, nearly six out of 10 parents with tweeners surveyed (56 percent) have purchased cell phones for their young children.

Although cell phones are becoming more common among younger teens and tweens, there are major differences in the issues parents face when shopping for and managing the use of a tween’s mobile device as opposed to an older teenager’s phone. For example, a 16-year-old driving herself to an after-school job is likely to use a wireless device differently than a 12 year-old who is still dependent on a parent for rides to soccer practice and not venturing far from home independently.

Figuring out how to manage a child’s use of one of these high-tech gadgets can often require the skills of a seasoned diplomat, the steely nerve of a tightrope walker, and the tech savvy of a Silicon Valley computer geek. To help parents plan for and manage their tween’s use of a cell phone, NCL offers the following advice on how to shop for tweens’ phones, how to manage their costs, and how to set some simple rules to make sure a tween doesn’t misuse the phone.