“I would recommend strong controls for a very young child who is only being given the phone for emergencies,” says Molly McLaughlin, senior editor of consumer electronics for ConsumerSearch.com, a website that researches products for consumers. “For older children, it’s more about keeping your monthly bill in check.”
McLaughlin says that these services typically do not cost too much to add. AT&T charges $5 a month for its http://www.att.net/smartcontrols-SmartLimitsForWireless Smart Limits program, which, in addition to the services previously mentioned, lets parents cap the money that can be spent on downloadable purchases and restricts access to inappropriate content.
Review the security risks.
Phones don’t only carry potential health risks. A child can also get into some sticky situations if they use the phone to send not-so-nice messages or, even, scandalous photos. They can also be exposed hacks that could result in their personal information falling into the wrong hands.
“You need to discuss the risks,” Magid says. “If a phone is lost or stolen, a person can look at your content, but they can also use it abuse other people.”
Magid suggests reviewing with your child how to password-protect the phone and voicemail to ward off hackers and thieves.
Make sure the school allows cellphones.
McLaughlin suggests consulting with your child’s school before purchasing a cellphone that you intend to send with them to class.
“A lot of schools have banned them and you don’t want the phone confiscated,” she says.
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