According to a new study by President's Choice Services Inc., 48 per cent of Canadian parents with children aged 11 and over now let their kids carry a cell phone.
The majority of Canadians (52 per cent) felt somewhere between the ages of 13 to 16 was an appropriate age to give a child a mobile device, compared to the 31 per cent of Canadians who felt that teens age 17 or older could better handle the responsibility of a cell phone.
Approximately 10 per cent cited nine to 12 as the right age bracket; while only 1 per cent felt children aged six to eight should have their own mobile device. But ownership is one thing; knowing what to do with the phone, is another.
And with a new school year well underway, this presents a new learning challenge for parents: How to teach their kids to use their cellphones appropriately. Not just from a safety perspective (texting or talking on a handheld device when driving, walking across busy roads and texting, giving away passwords, etc.) but from a "mobile manners" point of view as well. It's important as role models that parents practice what they preach and adhere to the following rules themselves:
• Not texting or answering calls when in the middle of a conversation, unless you have advised the person you're speaking with you might have to do so at some point.
• No texting during mealtime. (First one to pick up their phone does the dishes!)
• Enforcing that you support the "No cellphone" rule in the classroom and not calling or texting your kids during the school day unless urgent.
• Not talking on a cellphone in quiet public places.
It's also important to research the coverage plan you want to purchase. Examine the type of usage you expect your child to have (i.e. Just texting and calling, no internet access for younger kids) and speak to an independent dealer who can show you different carrier packages.
Unlimited plans are available, and a pre-paid option will keep easily keep the budget in line. Depending on the age of the child and their earning ability, have them pay for the monthly usage to get an understanding of the expense. And remember even the "smartest" of phones can be simplified down to just texting and talking, depending on the plan you choose, so repurposing an old smartphone of your own is an option.
This piece was originally run in Metro News.