Consumer group offers online guide to 'tween-agers' and cell phones

Consumer Reports News: September 09, 2011 04:08 PM

Kids and technology seem to go hand-in-hand. But for parents buying mobile phones for their pre-teenage children, there are many more considerable challenges than the already-daunting task of finding the right phone and service.

Certainly, parents currently face a dizzying choice of cell phones—a simple feature phone or a snazzy iPhone?—with different plans from various wireless carriers. But once a kid has a mobile, parents also need to deal with the dangers of being constantly online including cyberbullying and excessive texting.

The National Consumers League, a non-profit consumer organization in Washington, D.C., has created an online guide to help parents navigate the tricky waters of tweens and cell phones.

The guide covers shopping tips such as considering a pre-paid phone and plan—something that has worked for Consumer Report's Electronics Editor Paul Reynolds. (See "Buying a child’s first cell phone" for more information.)

The free online resource also offers advice for parents on setting ground rules for cell phone use. Just as older teenage drivers should have a "no distracted driving" rule, younger phone users should have a "no distracted biking or walking" rule, for example.

The guide also features a section that suggests tips and tools—content filters, text message limiters and location-tracking software—that can help monitor kids and control their cell-phone habits,

If your 10- to 14-year-old children have cell phones, what are your concerns and how have you addressed them?

Tweens and cell phones: A back-to-school guide for responsible use [The National Consumers League]
Parental controls: Managing children's wireless usage [The National Consumers League]
Parental Controls for Cell Phones [Online Mom]

Paul Eng

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