Most teenagers own a mobile phone. Some are able to buy their own phone from the money they earn as a result of working part-time, but the more likely scenario is that you, their parent, ends up buying them one. You may be perfectly happy to do this, but often the arrangement ends up an unhappy one for many reasons.
So what are the pros and cons of buying a teenager a mobile phone and should you even bother?
Do Teenagers Really Need a Mobile Phone?
It’s debatable whether a teenager actually needs a mobile phone, but if you asked them, they would undoubtedly say a phone was essential to their happiness and social standing. Without a mobile phone, the average teenager is unable to function–they can’t talk to their friends and life just isn’t worth living. But before you give in and rush off to buy your petulant teenager a brand new iPhone, read the following list.
The Pros of Letting a Teenager have a Mobile Phone
. It’s a bargaining tool. One way of making a teenager do exactly what you want them to do is to use a combination of bribery and blackmail. If they need some persuading to help you do a few chores around the house, you can offer to put more data on their mobile phone. Or if they’re being a pain, you can threaten to confiscate their phone until they behave.
. Keeping track of teens. Mobile phones are an excellent way of staying in touch with a teenager when they are away from home. If your teen has gone to a party or a festival and you want to stay in contact,you can directly call or text them. Or, if you want to keep track of them surreptitiously, install a tracking app on their phone.
. Emergencies. If a teenager has a mobile phone on their person, they can use it to call for help if they find themselves in a sticky situation for some reason. In potentially dangerous circumstances, such as being stranded somewhere, having a cell phone handy could be a lifesaver.
Related: Tips for Managing Your Child’s Social Networking Activities
The Cons of Giving a Mobile Phone to a Teenager
. Huge bills. The main reason why parents balk at handing over a mobile phone to a teenager is that they fear being the unhappy recipient of a huge monthly bill. Having a good phone plan will help, but your teenager can still go over their monthly data, minute, and texting limits, which will cost you.
. Cost of replacement. A lot of teenagers are irresponsible. Perhaps your teenager loses things left and right, and an expensive mobile phone will be no exception. So do you really want to fork out for a new iPhone and discover that your little darling has lost it?
. Upgrades. Most teenagers are always on the lookout for the newest and coolest phone and phone accessories. This means that although they might be delighted with the new mobile phone you buy them for Christmas, two months later it’s now ‘old’ and ‘so not cool’. Unfortunately, you will then need to invest in a newer phone and accessories or face a campaign of sulking for months.
. Limited Attention Span. Conversation around the dinner table tends to be rather limited when a teenager is in possession of a mobile phone. Instead of intelligent answers to questions, all you are likely to get are a few grunts and the sight of a face peering intently at a small screen. That and lots of buzzing sounds indicating incoming text messages and Facebook alerts.
Finding the Right Mobile Phone for a Teenager
You could just chance it and choose the first phone you see, or you could play it safe and ask your teenager what phone they actually want. The latter approach is probably best, as you don’t want to pay good money for a new mobile phone only for your gift to be treated with absolute contempt.
Here are some good prepaid phones if you don’t want to purchase a contractual phone plan for your teenager.