http://barnimages.com/

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Once upon a time kids would have to go outside to play a game with friends (remember when you had to be home when the streetlights came on?), get up to change a TV channel, and would have to walk to 3 miles to school – uphill, both ways!

If you’re the parent of a teenager (or a tween-ager) you know kids are now spoiled with new technology.

Furthermore, 56% of tweens (ages 8 through 12) own a cell phone!

75% of teen drivers admitted to texting while driving.

28% of teens admitted to sending inappropriate pictures via text.

A large group of parents were asked what age would be appropriate for a child to get their first cell phone. 22% of those parents felt that 10 was a good age!

So when you have to have the talk “Mom, Dad, can I have a smart phone?” it becomes harder and harder to say no. Before you hand over a cell phone to your kid, go over these basic rules.

Texting

Be respectful, both to the people you're texting with and those around you.

Be careful. Assume that even private texts can become public.

Calling

Verify the caller or texter. Don't respond to numbers you don't know.

Always answer the phone when it's Mom or Dad!

Taking pictures

Ask permission before you snap someone’s picture, take a video, or forward a photo.

Don’t publicly embarrass people. Don’t post someone’s photo — especially an unflattering one — from your phone without his or her permission.

Apps and downloads

Manage costs. Make sure your kids understand that they’re spending real money when they download apps, games, and music. Consider giving them an allowance for downloads or password-protecting the download function.

Use parental controls. Depending on the age of your kid, consider using the settings to filter out age-inappropriate content, restrict downloads, and prevent in-app purchases.

Posting

Be selective, not impulsive. Make sure kids know to be very choosy about what they post from their phones.

Be safe. Explain the risks involved in using location services.

Some cell phone service providers offer widgets to help you determine the best phone and the best service for your family. Fill them out on different sites to see who has the best deal to meet your needs.

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