If you are the parent of at least one teenager, you have undoubtedly been asked when you are going to buy them a cell phone. I have two sons. The oldest just became a freshman in high school. He has never been shy about asking for anything, so we have been peppered for months with the question: When can I have a cell phone? As you well know, teenagers can be very persistent. We finally caved. And speaking from experience, may I strongly suggest you compare cell phone plans before you add your teenager to your plan.
I do not text very often. In fact, I think the only time I have ever texted anyone is simply to reply to their original text message. My wife is the same way, but boy can she use up those cell phone minutes (but I digress). It turns out, however, that my son is a texting monster. He and his friends can be right next to each other, and they will still text each other instead of just talking. And trust me, it is not because my son is shy.
Your teenager, if left unmonitored, can easily send and receive over a 1000 text messages in the first month. No kidding. My advice: make sure you know the costs of texting when you compare cell phone plans. You may pay a little extra for unlimited texting, but not only will you not have any overage charges, you will also sleep better at night knowing you have limited your costs to that one monthly charge. In fact, our son agreed to pay for unlimited texting out of his own money.
Obviously the number of cell phone minutes allowed will be a key focus as you compare cell phone plans. Know the tendencies and schedule of your child. If he or she is home alone for any length of time, you can be sure the phone will be in use. Free nights and weekend minutes are almost mandatory. If the phone is mostly for pleasure use, rather than because you really need them to have a phone during the day so they can contact you, then you might consider only allowing access to the phone during certain non-peak hours. I realize this is easier said than done.
Be aware of web access from the phone. I would highly recommend as a parent that you block this feature. Not only does it prevent your child from visiting inappropriate sites, but unless you have a plan with unlimited access, this can drain your bank account in a hurry. Think about how easy it is for you to get lost surfing the web. Your teenager is destined to do so even more.