Many parents are adding cell phones to the list of must-have school supplies. Whether for coordinating pick-ups, tracking after-school activities or web browsing for homework help, a recently study from the National Consumer League showed nearly 56 percent of parents of “tweeners” (ages 8 to 12) are buying cell phones for their kids. With that in mind, here are some factors parents should consider before buying their kids’ first cell:
•Look at big-picture costs. While some parents opt for discounted phones to save on up-front expenses, they are usually paired with pricier plans that can add up over time. Initially paying a little more for a phone usually equals big savings in the long-run: Lower-rate plans save close to $2,000 over a two-year period.
• Find the right plan. First-time cell users are likely to text frequently. By opting for an unlimited, pay-in-advance plan, parents know what monthly costs to expect and won’t be surprised by overage charges. Added bonus: Pay-in-advance phones can be taken away as punishment when necessary without worry of being bound to a monthly contract and paying for a service that isn’t being used.
•Determine which features matter most. It’s important for parents to talk to their child about which features or services they’ll most enjoy. For instance, parents could opt for a phone with a QWERTY keyboard for text-happy users or select a device with strong audio and visual capabilities for those who love videos and entertainment.
•Research parental controls. Once settled on a carrier and phone, parents can consider apps, services and programs that give insight into - how their kids are using the phone. Whether regularly checking browser history or automatically looking through text recipients, there are a number of monitoring tools. Apps can also help keep track of where children are, at all times.
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