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Tips for buying your teen their first cell phone

Consider your child’s maturity and responsibility when making any decisions about phones.

TeenSafe Data Breach

If you have a teenager, they will probably start asking you for a smartphone once they notice all their friends have one. Most teens are using their phones just to kill time, but what if your child gets involved in cyberbullying or sexting? You might be hesitant to give your child their own phone, so here are a few things to consider when making this decision to give you peace of mind.

Buy a Refurbished Phone

If you’re fine with giving your child a phone but don’t want to give them a brand-new device, purchase a refurbished phone. Refurbished cell phones save you a lot of money, and a used phone will work just as well for your teenager. He or she really just wants to text friends and surf the internet, so a used phone with a new phone number will meet every need. Plus, you still get a one-year warranty with a refurbished phone.

This is the perfect solution because you can give your teenager the phone she wants without having to shell out a bunch of money, especially if you don’t trust that she won’t break her phone. Replacing a used phone will be much easier than replacing a brand-new smartphone at retail price.

Teach Safe Habits

If you’re not sure you can trust your teenager with their own phone, give her a few tips, like how to do a reverse phone lookup. He or she might get calls from unknown numbers, so help your teen know how to search “whose number is this” and find out who’s calling before answering. You don’t want your child answering calls from a telemarketer and accidentally divulging private information.

Teach him or her how to be safe and how to check public records to see who’s calling. Robocallers are fairly common, so let your teenager know that they don’t have to answer every phone call they get. Save important landline and cell phone numbers in the phone for them so they know who to answer.

Look for Warning Signs

After you get your teenager a phone, keep an eye out for warning signs that he or she is addicted to it. Nearly 45% of teens said they use the internet “almost constantly.” Do you ever find yourself just scrolling through your phone? Your teen can experience the same thing, but he or she might not have the ability to put the phone down. Using a smartphone could cause your child to lose sleep. She might be unable to stop looking at her phone at night, which could cause her to do poorly in class because she’s tired.

Your son might start to stay in his room to be on his phone or refuse to participate in family activities. He or she might be anxious about a missed call or feel like they’re missing out if they don’t have their phone on them. Stay aware of what your teen is experiencing, and if you think he might be addicted, seek professional help. You can set some rules to help prevent addiction, like banning the phone from family dinners or other activities and asking your teen to charge her phone in the living room at night so she can go to sleep.

You’ll also need to be aware of what your child is doing on the phone. Is she sending photos of herself to other kids? Is he cyberbullying his classmates? Talk to your teenager about what is and isn’t appropriate to do on the phone and make it clear that you’ll take it away if she doesn’t cooperate. The cell phone is a privilege and you can revoke the privilege if your teenager is abusing it.

Consider your child’s maturity and responsibility when making any decisions about phones. Establish rules and boundaries for their protection, and teach your teen how to properly use his or her phone. With the right information, your teenager can be a responsible cell phone user.

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