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They want to be "in." They want to attract the attention of classmates and friends. They want to be the first ones in class to have the latest model or the most expensive phone. So you give in and go to the cellphone shops in Iligan City or Cagayan de Oro to get them their phone of desire or even better, have a Globe or Smart plan to go with it. But wait!

Are you sure that you want your kids to have android phones or iPhones? How sure are you that their school work and upbringing will not be affected once these gadgets are in their hands? Read on and get informed on whether you should really buy that phone for your child.

*What's your child's age?

Some experts believe that children between the ages of 9 to 14 should not own android, blackberry, or iPhone devices. This is because these phones are tailored for older users---those who need to check their emails on the go, who use their phones as personal digital assistants, who check the Internet every now and then for work purpose, or who need to check the news online on a regular basis. Having a younger person use these phone would not be cost-effective, since the phones' most vital features will go unused anyway. If your intention is to give your child a phone for emergency purposes, then you would be better off buying a feature phone--a phone that has most of the features your child will be interested in yet does not have the functions of a smartphone. These often do not operate using android, Blackberry OS, or IOS. These cost much less as well.

*To Plan or not to Plan?

There are parents who have bought their children high-end phones on network plans, and end up disconnecting them because of the high charges. Smartphones like androids, Blackberrys and iPhones are often connecting to the Internet by default, so if your child has a smartphone on a plan that does not include unlimited Internet or does not have unlimted texting to all networks, you will be in for a shock when the bill comes in. It's either you put your kids on prepaid or manually disable the internet function on their smartphones. At least on prepaid you can keep track on how much your child is spending on load and your child will be obliged to economize whatever load he or she has.

* Are you technologically literate?

Do you know the difference between an android phone and an iPhone? How about a smartphone and a feature phone? Do you know how to access and apply parental controls on a smartphone? If you don't then you will be in potential trouble once your child has a smartphone. Know how to operate a smartphone first before thinking of buying one for your child. If your child is aware that you know how to use his or smartphone , then your child will be aware that he or she will not be able to fool around with the phone.

*Do they really need to check on their Facebook all the time?

Facebook is fun, but it can be a potentially dangerous thing for children and teenagers. In other places Facebook is often used by young people to hook up with the opposite sex or for dating. There are also unscrupulous people who use Facebook for purposes like child pornography, or who are on the lookout for potential kidnap or rape victims. It's easy to monitor a child's Facebook use when he or she is using a computer. This task is more difficult when the child has a smartphone that enables him or her to access Facebook and other social networking sites anywhere he or she goes. If the child always updates his or her Facebook as to where he or she is right now this could be a security risk especially when the family has rido. One can always buy his or her child a simple basic phone and keep Facebooking confined to the home computer.

* Safety First!

Ever noticed a smartphone and saw things like WhatsApp, WeChat, Kik, and Kakao Talk on the home screen? They're instant messaging apps and they're dangerous for children. These apps allow users to chat with total strangers many of whom are up to no good and may introduce children and teenagers to pornography or online sex. Then there are also "online bullies" who may victimize children and affect their self-esteem. If you are concerned with your children's safety, don't buy them a smartphone.

* Discipline Issues

A child may not pay enough attention to schoolwork as he or she may have a smartphone to keep busy with. Or he or she may be engaging in a relationship with the opposite sex and is hiding it from you. He or she may be engaging in illegal activities with his or her smartphone contacts. If you have already bought your child a smartphone, you will face issues such as privacy, academic performance problems, cost problems, etc. Ideally parents need to monitor their children's phone use by checking the messages, phone numbers, and picture files periodically, but if you do not have the time, willpower, or perseverance to do that, then don't buy your child a smartphone.

Your child basically does not really need a smartphone. If you have already have bought him or her such a phone, then you have the automatic responsibility to teach the child responsible phone use, after all in the society we live in, the parents are often blamed for whatever unfortunate situation their children get into. You can choose to make the informed choice of buying a smartphone for your child yet being able to monitor him or her, or you can also choose to buy a feature phone or basic phone and be able to protect your child from the dangers that can be brought about by smartphones. JAS

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