cell phone for an 11 yr old

yborgalApril 18, 2010

Situation:

An 11 yr old is given a cell phone with explicit instructions it is to be used only for phone calls and texting...the plan covers unlimited texting and unlimited phone calls..... and instead she accesses the Internet and sends photos to friends that results in $65 over charges. This a family that is really watching their pennies and this $65 is tough bill to deal with.

How would you handle this? Personally, my first thought is that phone has too many features on it for an 11 year old. I think a basic phone would suffice.

But what would you do?

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vala55

She is a child what did you expect? The young do not always do as they are told and this turned out to be an expensive mistake. Take it away from her, she is to young.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 6:53PM
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yborgal

This was what I expected. However,the parents gave her this phone with all the bells and whistles and are soooooo surprised that she tried some of them out.
Thanks for confirming what I thought.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 7:40PM
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popi_gw

I agree, what would you expect the child to do, she has no concept of phone bills and charges. The parents are at fault for giving her the keys to the candy shop, so to speak.

They should give her a basic phone.

Why does she need one, anyway.

It is a lesson for the parents.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 8:07PM
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lowspark

Sorry, but it's ridiculous to give an 11 year old a phone with the ability to do the things you don't want her to do. If they don't want her using the internet, don't activate that feature. Period. It's a no-brainer.

Personally, I can't imagine that an 11 yo needs a cell phone at all but I've been told I'm hopelessly stuck in the 20th century, so what do I know.

I agree it's a lesson for the parents, but the child should also see consequences. I'd set an hourly rate for her and have her work off the money with household chores that she isn't already responsible for.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 10:28AM
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silversword

My SD has a phone. She's nine. I think it's absurd. If/When my DD gets one it will be the pre-paid emergency one. It will have Dad, SDad, Mom, other emergency contact and 911. That's it. No reason for kids to be on cell phone.

Good idea lowspark. Work off the charges, then change the plan.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 9:42AM
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sweeby

"If they don't want her using the internet, don't activate that feature. Period."

Sounds so simple, doesn't it? But I can't get mine DE-ACTIVATED! And sometimes even accidental purse-clicks seem to get it started... I've only had $2-3 here or there, so no biggie, but it's a PITA! Of course, if they CAN deactivate it, that would be a good idea.

I'd also have her pay for the phone bill and lock up the phone for a while since "she's demonstrated with her behavior that she's not responsible enough to have one yet."

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 6:33PM
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popi_gw

I do think she should pay off the charge over time. She can learn responsibility for her actions.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 8:16PM
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asolo

I live in a world containing parents stupid enough to give their 11-year-old a cell-phone with unlimited calls and texting. Idiots. Mondo stupidoso even considering the child's transgression. I think the parents should pay the bill, destroy the phone, and then go soak their heads. They're the ones that need to learn something.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 12:09AM
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freezetag

I think many 11 year olds ARE smart enough to understand what features their calling plans include. My daughter (who has always had to pay her own phone bill) started with a limited texting plan (500 per month) at age 11, and knew enough to check how many remained from time to time.

Of course, she did go over sometimes, and was charged extra. Then finally went to an unlimited plan.

Kids are more careful and make better choices when they know they are footing the bill! This works even for my second grader (who has to use her own money to buy a Coke at the baseball concession stand : )

If this child doesn't have $65, I think her parents should take her phone away until she pays them back with additional chores. That will motivate her to work off her debt as quickly as possible.

It's not always a bad thing to let your child make mistakes - it's sometimes the best way for them to learn responsibility. Better now, while under your supervision, then later, when they have enough credit to wreak some serious financial havok.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 12:05PM
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mariealways

There's nothing wrong with giving an 11 year old a cell phone. The parent should let her pay the extra and put a block on that feature. Every wireless company offers it. DD10's cell phone now has unlimited everything (since it was the same price as unlimited texting only on our family plan), but before that, I just blocked certain features and never had a problem. And before unlimited texting, DD knew that if she went over her monthly allotment, she would lose the phone and have to pay the charges. Again, never had a problem. But DD is very responsible.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 3:26PM
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carla35

I'm curious ...how much does the phone itself and the plan cost per month? If they can afford the phone and the monthly charges every month for an 11 yr old, I doubt it could be all that tough for them to handle a $65 charge.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 12:57AM
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freezetag

Dh and I have a family plan; additional phones for the kids are $10/month. Unlimited texting is $40/month, which dh, dd and ds split. So the kids each pay around $25/month. Our younger two kids (10 and 7) do not have phones, but the older two will be glad when they do, because it will spread out the cost of unlimited texting a little more.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 10:31AM
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imamommy

My SD11 wants a phone. NO WAY! Too young. It was bad enough when I had gotten my kids their phones when they were in high school, with fees for overuse.

For an 11 year old to have a phone with internet is utterly ridiculous... parents are asking for trouble. My SD has a 14 year old half sister that is allowed to go online to social networks at 2 or 3am... obviously not being supervised. Just a bad idea.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 11:12PM
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dshepler

I have 2 11yr olds, no phones. I have a 14 yr old, no phone. We have one trac phone that we will hand out to one of the kids when they are going on a special trip or something where it is nice for them to have a way to reach us, or us them. When they get home, the phone is returned. This works nicely for Mom.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 6:38PM
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vala55

dshepler, that is the first cell phone for youngsters that sounds good to me. That would work for the entire family also, if you were on a strict budget and couldn't afford a contract cell phone. Very nicely thought out.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 5:20PM
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eclecticme

This is my first time posting on this forum but I thought I would chime in. I find it amazing -- ridiculous -- that a child of any age that is incapable of living away from home and that is not fully functioning in society as an adult would be allowed to have unlimited access to the internet...and preditors that exploit this exact situation. Maybe I'm just out of touch! I'm not that tech savy but I dont think you can put a parental block on intenet cell phone usage. I dont think I would allow my child to have any completely unsupervised time with the internet. Makes much more sense in my mind to have a family computer in the middle of the family room or the kitchen where everyone gathers and passes by...with parental blocks and all the hoopla that makes it less easy for kids to go to undesirable sites or put too much personal info out in cyberspace...

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 6:11PM
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daisyinga

There is independent software that can be installed on the cell phone that restricts and/or notifies of internet usage, and I'm pretty sure some carriers have internet monitoring/usage controls parents can use for kids.

Parents can also look at their cell phone bills and see if the child is using the internet features.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 1:35PM
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kimkss

Have you checked with your cell phone company? I work for a cell phone company and here you can have internet blocked for free. It will work for phone calls and texting but no internet and no picture messaging. Which....side note....picture messaging is really bad for young kids. It is scary the kinds of pictures that kids will send.

From experience dealing with parents while working here. Start out with just being able to make phone calls. I wouldn't add texting for a long time because you "lose" your child. They lose the ability to hold conversations and focus on things because they will text while they are doing everything! I saw a kid the other day stopping every minute while mowing grass to send a txt msg.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 10:05AM
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