mobile: Before buying your child a cellphone, make sure you set out the ground rules.
mobile: Before buying your child a cellphone, make sure you set out the ground rules.

In the old days mobile phones were just that, a device for making and receiving phone calls when you were mobile — out and about, and not near a landline.

These days mobile devices serve many purposes — you can play music, play online games, take photos and videos, access the Internet, download all sorts of applications, and who knows whatever else. 

Almost everyone in Bermuda has some sort of mobile device, more than likely a smartphone.

Children are increasingly asking for and receiving mobile devices.

Costs

If your child has a mobile device or if you are about to purchase one, here are a few things to consider.

First, when making a decision on which mobile device to purchase, consider what your child actually needs and will use, rather than what is ‘in’ at the moment. 

The latest smartphones feature high-speed Internet and advanced mobile technology — in simple terms, they are highly sophisticated and can do almost anything a computer can.

If you decide to purchase your child the latest smartphone you can expect to pay for all the added features, whether you use them or not, and mobile devices these days update their features very quickly.

What is ‘in’ today, may be ‘out’ by the time you figure out how to use all the bells and whistles.

Also, consider the cost to operate your device. If you buy a modern smartphone be sure to evaluate the cost to operate the device before you purchase.

Depending on how much your child will be surfing the Internet, sending e-mails, tweeting and playing online games you will need a data plan that will accommodate their usage.

Texting and talking can also be expensive if you do not have unlimited texting, and a ‘nights and weekends’ plan.

Take the time to understand what plans are available and which one is best suited for your child before you end up with a whopping bill.

Besides having the right device and the right voice and data plans there is an education process that parents should go through with their children before they are allowed to have a mobile device, whether it is a simple cellphone or a smartphone.

Teach your children basic do’s and don’t’s for using their mobile device.

Make sure your child does not use their cellphone to chat with people they either barely know or do not know at all.

They should not send text messages to strangers and should not accept calls, texts, e-mails etc. from people they do not know. Better to be safe than sorry.

Use good manners — the same good manners that you would want your child to use in ‘real life’ apply to cellphones.

They should not curse, bully or be rude to people via a cellphone, especially through texting or e-mailing.

It is very easy to get caught up in a ‘cyber’ fight and say things that they would not ordinarily say face to face but they must resist the urge to respond negatively. 

It is very hard to take back written insults and jibes.

Watch what is shared — most modern mobile devices come with camera and video features. This is both a good and bad thing.

Be very careful of what your child photographs, videos and shares.

Equally as important is what they allow other people to photograph and or videotape of them. 

Everything they do should, of course, be appropriate and so should any photos or videos that record their actions.

Encourage your child to tell their friends if they do not want to be photographed or have their photo shared via a cellphone or posted on the Internet — everyone’s privacy should be respected.

There is a wealth of information on the Internet that speaks to children and cellphones — the challenges and the opportunities.

Do your research before purchasing and teach your child to be responsible with their mobile device.

Honey Adams is the education officer for Consumer Affairs, Government of Bermuda. Call 297-7627 or see www.ca.gov.bm