Your child wants a mobile phone, but you’re not ready to get him/her one (yet): every parent of a pre-teenager experiences this kind of struggle! What arguments can you use and what alternatives are there to help you buy time until you deem acceptable for your child to own a cell phone.
Why not get your child a cell phone?
Of course it’s on every child’s wish list! It allows them to gain autonomy (manage their own calls and social life, be reachable, which provides a sense of security) and have fun (games, social networks). But more often than not, young kids don’t have a very clear idea of what those features imply, particularly in terms of cost!
To convince your child of this fact, show him/her how much your monthly phone plan costs and make him/her aware of the budget that it represents. Also, let your kid know that a low price plan will not provide all the features…
Being autonomous in their use of a cell phone also means that there are certain rules to follow: avoid unsafe online behavior (no contacts with strangers, identify harassment…) and in real-life too. Don’t stare constantly at your phone when walking down the street, no cell phone in school… Certain habits that even we adults have trouble observing! Owning a cell phone requires a certain maturity.
Finally, note that there is a risk of theft or damage: it would be a pity to start their cell phone owner’s life by losing the precious device…
Alternatives to a cell phone
In France, the average age to get a cell phone is 11 years old, which coincides with the beginning of middle school. What other options do you have before your children reach this age?
“Vintage” phones: did you keep your old phones, from the not-so-far times when the only way to access the internet was through a computer? Now may be the time to take these old phones for another ride! Certain brands and makes were particularly robust and may still be functional. Beware though: telephone network standards have evolved and communicating with this type of device can be a little chaotic. And above all, your children will most likely find them tacky. Well yes, they can only be used to make calls…!
Phones, smartphones and connected objects made for children: specifically dedicated to the young generation, these devices allow to limit the number of contacts to call, restrain or block data access and sometimes provide tools for emergencies (emergency number or a dedicated button). They are an option to consider, but are still quite fragile: the large screen implies a high risk of shock and damage.
Last option: the GPS tracker. It is the only option that allows your child to be reachable and contact relatives in case of emergency, while limiting the number of contacts and avoiding data roaming, and that provides geolocation and an emergency button. A solid device with the essential features, and without any unnecessary options, to buy time before getting your child his/her first smartphone!