Dollars and Sense

In the 1980s, cellphones were considered a business executive’s “luxury perk.” Fast forward to today and it’s nearly impossible to walk down the street without seeing people of all ages using their mobile devices. Unlike other technologies, the U.S. wireless industry is constantly evolving and at a rapid pace. Not only have wireless networks become faster with more capabilities, but the devices are smaller, smarter and with more features. An entire industry of applications has developed so consumers may customize their wireless devices to meet their unique needs.  

With so many options from the U.S wireless industry, consumers have the power to make informed choices about which services, devices and applications are incorporated into their personalized device. This means parents and kids must decide together how, where and when to use wireless. 

By talking to kids about responsible wireless use, parents can help kids learn and apply valuable life skills, such as budgeting and time management. Here are a few examples:

  • BEFORE choosing a post-paid wireless service plan, parents and kids need to agree on how many texts and how much data should be used. Then, a service plan may be chosen that meets kids’ wireless needs while alerting kids to the limits of their monthly wireless plan.
  • Applications may offer opportunities to purchase additional items within the app (in-app purchases), such as points in a game. In addition to password protecting kids’ ability to download apps, parents may choose to restrict in-app purchases and work with kids to understand when it may be appropriate to make a purchase.
  • Parents and kids must agree on the appropriate and inappropriate times and places to use wireless, such as during school, before homework is done or at night.

CTIA developed sample family rules to help parents and kids start this discussion so that the expectations on wireless usage are clear. What’s appropriate will vary by child, age and family. What one family decides for their 11-year-old may be different from another family’s 13-year-old.

CTIA and its members offer information, tools and features to help parents monitor and manage their kids’ wireless devices sensibly:

How to Respond:

  • If your kids have exceeded their wireless usage allotment
  • To help your kids use wireless technology responsibly
See How to Respond >

Case Studies:

  • Learn from others’ experiences, including how the situations were handled.
See Case Studies >