Like notebooks and folders, cell phones have become a mainstay on the new school year checklist. With back-to-school shopping set to begin, many area families will be adding new wireless devices to their supply list. According to a 2010 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 69 percent of 11- to 14- year olds own cell phones along with 85 percent of 15 to 18 year olds.
“Today’s families are constantly on-the-go between work, school, soccer practice, ballet lessons and more,” Laurie Poellinger, director of sales in Wisconsin for U.S. Cellular. “It is comforting for parents to know that they can easily communicate with their children when they need to.”
Once parents decide their child is ready for a cell phone, U.S. Cellular offers the following tips:
• Explain to children the responsibility that comes with owning a cell phone.
• Talk with children about the appropriate times to use the phone, including not using their phones during class. In many places such as the classroom or the library, there are policies for cell phone use.
• Program ICE (In Case of Emergency) prior to a person’s name or title in their contact list, such as “ICE Mom,” to help first responders quickly contact parents if necessary.
• Because routinely charging a cell phone is typically not top-of-mind for first-time users, remind children to keep their cell phone charged so they can be reached when needed.
A few things parents might consider when choosing a cell phone this school year include:
• A robust cellular network helps students get the information they need faster and ensures families can stay in touch.
• Texting is more popular than talking among teens. In fact, teens send and receive an average of 3,339 texts per month. With that in mind, an easy-to-use messaging phone is a good option.
• To prevent parents of overzealous texters from experiencing bill shock, U.S. Cellular sends customers a text message when they reach 75 percent of their allotted minutes or text messages, and again at 100 percent, so there isn’t a surprise when the bill arrives. Parents can decide who on the calling plan will receive the warning. They can have alerts sent directly to them and their teens.
• For older students who may have even more after-school or athletic activities, smartphones can help students simplify and balance their academics and extra-curricular activities through e-mail, social media and synchronized calendars.
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