Consumer Alert: Your kid wants a phone for Christmas. Here’s how to know if he’s ready

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – All I want for Christmas is a cell phone. That may be the top thing on your kid’s Christmas list. But is your kiddo ready for the responsibility? That’s the question I’m debating right now. Neither my 10-year-old nor my 13-year-old have cell phones. And my family is definitely in the minority. According to Common Sense Media, 71 percent of 12-year-olds have a cell phone.

Here are my concerns.

  • Cell phone addiction – According to Common Sense Media, screen time for tweens is more than 5 and a half hours a day and for teenagers it’s is a whopping 8:39 a day.
  • Social media use – Certainly we as parents worry about social media.  There’s always the risk of cyberbullying and inappropriate online behavior. The 2021 Common Sense Media report found that 38 percent of kids 8 to 12-years-old report using social media, an age group that’s technically not old enough to have access to the primary social media platforms.
  • The cost – If my kid can’t keep up with his socks, can he keep up with a thousand dollar phone? And what about all those app purchases?  Will he rack up charges on my credit card?

So how can I know if my kid is ready?  A tech guru with AT&T says there’s a test for that.

“It’s,: said Jason Komenski, referencing his company’s site that has smart phone readiness information for parents. “So you can go on there and there is actually a quiz you can take with your child called the phone ready quiz. It’s about 10 questions. It takes about 10 minutes. And in the end it will give you a ready, a not ready, and an almost ready. And at that point you can make the decision.”

AT&T developed the test together with the American Academy of Pediatrics.  And this is my favorite question.”How often do you trust your child’s judgment when they make decisions when you’re not there?” The answer says a lot about whether you can trust your kiddo with a computer in his pocket.

And it’s really important for you and your child to take the test together. Even if you find that your child is not ready, it’s an excellent conversation starter, a chance for you and your child to talk about the behavior you need to see before determining he’s ready for a phone.

AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon also have family security plans, allowing you as a parent to block explicit content, block numbers and set purchase limits on your child’s phone.