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Should My Child Have a Cell Phone?

October 30, 2012

Before purchasing a cell phone for an adolescent, parents should consider some potential consequences for both their child and themselves if the cell phone is not used responsibly. The consequences of the behavior below may outweigh the benefit of being able to pull up the internet to resolve a friendly debate.

  • Use while driving – In New York, anyone caught using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle in a non-emergency situation can receive a traffic ticket, 2 insurance points and a fine of up to $100. Much more serious consequences could arise for both the child and parents if the child causes a traffic accident while using the cell phone.
  • Use at school – If your child is caught using a cell phone in school, the phone can be taken away from him/her. While it is convenient for you as a parent to be able to have constant contact with your child, cell phones can cause serious disruptions and enable cheating within the classroom.
  • Sexting – More likely than not, if a parent has purchased the cell phone for their child, the child is using the cell phone to communicate with other children via text messaging. Images sent via cell phone could be prosecuted under New York’s child pornography law (Article 263 of NYS Penal Law), which can result in a period of incarceration of up to 15 years and a mandatory registration as a sex offender. While your child’s minor status may play a role in any criminal charges, the best way to avoid charges is by avoiding this type of behavior.

It is important to have a serious discussion with your child outlining appropriate cell phone behavior before purchasing a new phone. While it is definitely convenient to communicate with your child about when they may be getting home or being able to ask them to pick up milk on their way back from practice, there are serious consequences if the phones are not used appropriately.