Updated Oct 2020
I’m old enough that I remember when cell phones were not ubiquitous. Children definitely didn’t have their own cell phone until my son was in his pre-teens. I’ll let you do the math. Anyways.
My cell phone, and later my son’s cell phone, became an indispensable part of his staying in touch with his parents. Mine also became my busy parent toolkit.
The things you probably know :
- A cell phone makes it way easier to navigate time differences. A call can be made from the road or out and about.
- A mobile device follows a busy child wherever they are.
- Cell phones have so much functionality that sharing with your child is full color. Pictures, videos, games and apps make it easy to engage.
Aside from basic communication though, my cell phone became a parenting tool for me. When you are a busy parent and your child doesn’t live with you, setting reminders, alerts and alarms make it easy to keep up.
One of the apps I love is todoist. I’ve used it for years and it was indispensable in parenting and long distance parenting.
- Never forget to start planning summer or holiday visitation. Set it once, get a reminder every year, well in advance.
- Set reminders to check in on grades. Make it a repeat to never forget!
Alerts are customizable and there is nothing handier than having something in your pocket remind you of the thing you wouldn’t have remembered.
I use ifttt to automate stuff. Like notifying me when I get an emailed receipt from my son. Or when his report card shows up. It could easily be used to automate communication tracking, if you are in that situation. Just have it add a line to a spreadsheet every time you call a particular contact.
In the way of cell providers, I know, I know. Ugh. But I have had a really painless experience with google fi. I wouldn’t hesitate to put a child’s phone on it. Why? You only pay for the data you use. Ever. When they are at home on wifi, no data used, phone bill is lower. Use their bill protection feature to make sure the high months don’t break the bank.
Worth mentioning : with a cell phone in your child’s pocket, it’s important to make sure that you keep it secure. Many service providers have a kid safety program you can implement on their phones. I used Norton family for a while as well, and it was solid.
Security does become a bit of a chore for the custodial parent and can potentially be used to block communication. Communicate well with your co-parent when/if this happens.
Regardless of how you use cell phones, make sure you include the specifics of cell phone access and who is paying what in your parenting plan.