PORTLAND -- It is a nagging question many parents hear: “Can I have a cell phone?”
Approximately four-out-of-five teenagers carry cell phones. And the pressure to get one, even for younger kids, can be enormous.
So when is a child old enough for a cell phone?
KGW's Facebook poll: When should kids get cell phones?
Experts admit, there is no simple answer. “Just as you wouldn’t say, 'okay you are 16, here are the keys, have a good drive' - you would be in the car with them, you would be giving instructions,” explained Dr. James Mol, a behavioral health expert from Providence Portland Medical Center.
Mol and other experts suggest there are key things parents should consider before getting their child a cell phone. First, is your child ready for a phone? Are they mature enough to understand how a phone should be used properly? Will they lose it?
Next, are they away? Do you really need a phone to stay in contact with your child?
And finally, how about cost? Should your child help pay for the phone?
Dr. Mol suggests asking, “Can you buy one now, can you pay the monthly service fees?”
Parents should also be mindful that smart phones can provide unrestricted Internet access. Consider what type of phone may be safest for your child and monitor their use.