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Although my BABY is almost ten and so very independent, I’m still very protective of her and like to make sure we keep in touch throughout the day. One of the ways we do it, is by cell phone. Yes, my ten year old has a cell phone! It started the summer she went to horseback riding camp, Sea World camp, and beach camp. The camps were about 20 minutes each way, by bus, then I worried that if she got lost she would have some means to contact us. That is how our relationship with the family data plans began.
We all use our phones to save important memories of day to day life, as well as our special family outings. In the month of May, like most other months, we used our phones as the primary method of recording life moments. It’s fun to see the photos my daughter takes of herself and her friends, while they are creating their amazing childhood memories. Whether it be family picnics, trips to Knott’s Berry Farm, a trip to the beach, our phones go everywhere with us and get used constantly! Capturing a spoof or a selfie? No problem!
Now that our daughter has proved that she can be responsible for a phone, she has been begging for a touch screen cell phone and our main concern has been the data. It can be so costly! We recently discovered Walmart Family Mobile service is $29.88/month (for the first line) Unlimited Talk, Text & Data service plan which includes up to 1G of 4G LTE data. This was her opportunity to graduate from a basic flip phone to a touch screen phone AND for much less than it would cost for a data plan with our current carrier! ***
We found the Alcatel Evolve 2 at Walmart for $39.33! This is amazing! My daughter is a really responsible kid and we haven’t had any issues yet, but IF something were to happen to the phone, $39.33 is not too expensive to replace. When we purchased the phone, they offered us the protection plan for $8. Even better!
The experience of buying a phone at Walmart was amazing! Not only do they have some of the lowest priced unlimited wireless plans, it was super quick and easy! We were in and out in 5 minutes and it only took about 5 minutes to activate the phone. There’s no contract, so if our little angel doesn’t clean her room or follow directions, there’s no penalty for canceling the service. Ha!
As parents of a tween, we’ve learned a couple of things about kids having cell phones. Here’s a few tips for moms of teens and tweens:
1. Purchase the protection plan:
It’s totally worth it for a kid! The protection plan for our daughter’s cell phone was a no-brainer. It was $8 to add the protection plan to her phone! I recently smashed the screen of my own cell phone while transfering it from the OtterBox protector to my armband I use while I run. In just a split second, my screen was splittered in a million sharp bits, while I was being careful. I didn’t have the protection plan and it cost me about $60 to replace the screen. Had I paid for the protection plan, like I did for my daughter’s phone, it would have been FREE! to replace. Ah, well, lesson learned.
2. Keep your kid’s safe from nefarious apps on the phone or tablet:
We know we can have our eyes everywhere and we know the risks of young people having cell phones and other devices with full internet access. It’s the number one reason we installed a handy little app called, “Kid’s Place.” Kid’s Place is a parental control and child lock that prevents kids from using unauthorized apps, downloading apps without permission, accessing unapproved websites, making phone calls, text messaging, or performing any other actions that you may not want. This app is free and we’ve been using it on the tablet for some time now. While it is no substitute for adult supervision, it has been a fantastic tool for our peace of mind!
3. Download a tracking app to locate a lost cell phone:
I have to admit it. I had to locate my cell phone in the house today. I use Where’s My Droid by Alienman Tech and it’s amazing! I had the ringer turned off and the app is able to turn on the ringer and ring the phone at full volume. I was quickly able to log in to Where’s My Droid on my laptop and locate my phone in the closet, on the upper shelf. I don’t know when I’d be able to find my phone again, without this app. In my daughter’s defense, she’s never lost her phone and needed it to be located. But, if she were to ever lose the phone, the gps could locate it and ring it at full volume.
4. Download an app to monitor activity on the cell phone and frequently check the phone itself:
It’s a good idea to closely monitor all of your child’s cell phone activity. We let our daughter know that she needs to turn her cell phone over any time we ask for it. Cell phone use is a privilege and not a right in our home. Until she is an adult and can pay for her own phone, we believe there is no right to privacy. Apps like, Teen Safe are a great way to monitor text messages, photos, and social media activity. We know that we have to be super vigilant about monitoring our daughter’s cell phone useage.
5. Using the phone as a Hot Spot:
Now that my daughter has a phone with data, when we travel, her phone can be used as a Hot Spot for the tablet. With unlimited data, I don’t have to worry about her wracking up fees and using up my own data plan! She LOVES playing Mine Craft and a few other games. When we’re on the road, she can use the data on the tablet if she likes. Yay! Everyone wins!
6. Keep track of the kiddos, with GPS tracking app:
As parents, we’ve all been there! Friends are going to a party and mom says, “NO!” How many of us, as kids ourselves, went to the party even though mom said we couldn’t? As parents, we can make sure the story checks out. You can set alerts for when your child leaves a designated location. I know when I was growing up, I wasn’t where I said I was going to be. With technology today, apps such as Teen Safe, I know I can check my daughter’s location at any time, even if she doesn’t answer my phone calls.
What tips do you have for parents of teens and tweens with cell phones?
***Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to http://cbi.as/8e03or your local Walmart for current pricing.