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Parents' Top Back to School Tech Questions

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What's the right age for my kid to bring a cell phone to school?

If you decide to get your kid a cell phone for school, set rules before you hand it over.

Question: Is it OK to let my fourth grader bring a cell phone to school?

Answer: Nearly 56 percent of kids aged 8-12 have cell phones, according to a July 2012 survey by the National Consumers League. If your kid is in that age range, expect to start feeling some pressure to buy one. Safety is the main reason parents get their kids cell phones — and it makes sense. A cell phone allows them a bit of independence and gives you some peace of mind.

Kids' technological savvy often outpaces their judgment, so stick to a basic model without bells and whistles. Their ability to follow the rules is a better guide than age. Make sure they're old enough to understand that the phone is a tool, not a toy. These basic guidelines should help:
  • Check their school's cell phone rules and make sure that your kids understand them and will follow them.
  • Choose a basic device (no Internet access, no games, no camera).
  • Set clear expectations for responsible use as well as consequences for noncooperation.
  • Make sure they keep it charged — and that they always answer when it's Mom or Dad calling!
—Caroline Knorr, Common Sense Media (Photo: iStock)

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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