Parenting
Parenting

What Data Features Do Teens Need on Their Cell Phones?

| by Dr Gwenn
Cell phones are their feature are an ever growing topic in today's families. It used to be that the hot button issue was whether to get the phone. Now, we have to deal with all the features: texting, Internet, camera...to name the tip of the iceberg!

Clearly we're becoming a more mobile society with our cell phones taking over features previously reserved for our computers. A recent Nielsen Wire report confirms this observation showing that in Q1 of 2009 21% of cell phone owners used their phones to search the Internet, up from 16% in Q4 of 2008.

At the moment, digital plans are pricey so it's easy to lock our kids out of their cell phone Internet access. However, not too long ago we said the same exact thing about texting and now we have affordable unlimited texting plans.

Given the impulsivity of tweens and teens and how difficult it is for us to help kids with appropriate Internet use on computers, do we want to open the door to having them have access to the Internet on cell phones? Once data plans become more affordable, should we let them have cell phone internet access?

Perhaps it would be easier to answer if asked slightly differently. How are our teens and tweens doing with the digital cell phone freedom they have right now? Given the rise of extreme texting and sexting, I'd say not so great. Before we open the door to new issues and digital freedoms they are not ready for, we have to help them more with the freedoms they already have - and are clearly struggling with. Plus, as parents, we are still sorting out the issues with the digital uses of technology our kids are currently using. Let's sort those out first before we give the green light to other mobile freedoms that will certainly be more complex and harder to control.

If all goes well, data plans will remain unaffordable for a while longer so we won't have to cross another digital bridge none of us are ready for.