DataplansThe holidays are here and many kids, especially teenagers, will be asking for new cell phones, iPhones and Smartphones.

Did you notice I said new cell phones since chances are very good your child already has a cell phone and wants the latest and greatest one now.

Let’s face it, we live in a tech-driven world and parents are almost as guilty as the teens.  I watch many adults out there anxiously waiting for the new iPad or iPhone, however the difference is most adults are working for their money and can afford to buy their electronic gadgets.

Back to teens and cell phones, I know I get a lot of grief for this, however I have yet to have a good answer.

Why do teens need a data plan?

  • Is there an urgent email they are expecting?
  • Do they need to really need to check into Facebook, Twitter or any other social media site while they are at school?
  • What app is so important that they can’t live without it?

Here are ten reasons to re-consider data plans with your kids:

  1. Difficult to Monitor – Despite the parental controls that some service providers offer, a tech-savvy teen can still hide their tracks on a mobile device.
  2. Sexually Inappropriate Content – Not having a data plan makes sending questionable images to another cell phone much more difficult. The lack of online capabilities can greatly reduce the access your teen has to sexually inappropriate content, whether that means pornography or sharing ill-advised photos of themselves.
  3. Bullying – The bullying epidemic among older kids and teens is no secret. Limiting the capabilities of your teen’s cell phone can help protect them from some forms of bullying, or prevent them from being a bully to others.
  4. The Distraction Factor – Today’s teens spend an enormous amount of time using social networking sites from their phones, leaving them completely distracted from the world around them. Not having the ability to access such sites at their fingertips throughout the entirety of their day forces them to interact with their surroundings; everything from their grades to the conversation at the dinner table can improve when there’s no media plan available.
  5. Cheating – Having access to search engines during a difficult test can tempt even the most honest teen. Removing that temptation can help steer your teen away from making a decision that can have an adverse effect on their academic future.
  6. Usage Fees – The charges for data usage can be exorbitant, especially if your teen is downloading music, games and ringtones. Opting to have data usage disabled can save a small fortune, especially if you have more than one teenager on a family plan.
  7. Driving Dangers – While disabling data use doesn’t prevent texting, it can limit the available distractions. Have a talk with your teen driver about the dangers of texting while driving, but it might be a good idea to also consider dropping the data plan from their line for this reason as well.
  8. Peer Pressure and Risky Behavior – Today, everything from nudity to fighting is encouraged among groups of teens, simply for the purpose of recording and sharing the photos and video footage. Limiting the capabilities of your teen’s device can curtail his or her involvement in such risky or illegal behavior.
  9. Spreading of Harmful Rumors and Gossip – Though most wouldn’t use the term “blackmail,” that’s exactly what some teens are doing when they use photos and video caught on a cell phone to torment a classmate. Though disabling your teen’s data usage won’t protect them from being the victim of voyeurism, it will prevent them from sharing embarrassing footage of others.
  10. Too Much Information – Many social networking sites like Facebook offer the ability to “check in” from a mobile device. This publishes the user’s current location, sometimes complete with a map. For naïve teens, this doesn’t seem like an issue, but it can be dangerous if their privacy settings allow strangers to see the information.

Another factor that some families need to consider is cost.  There are some families that are struggling to pay for groceries every week yet they will give their kids a data plan.

Set priorities. 

Lead by example, your children will appreciate it when they become the parent.

Happy Holidays ~ Give your kids the gift of your presence……