Q: "My 12-year-old has been lobbying for a cell phone. Are there any guidelines to keep it from turning into a toy, a distraction, and a drain on the budget?"
A: "From talking to the neighborhood kids in middle school, most kids they know have cell phones by 6th grade," says Beth Blecherman, a cofounder of the Silicon Valley Moms Blog who writes about parenting and family technology on her personal blog, Techmamas.
Several parents have told Blecherman that they gave their children cell phones to aid in scheduling pickups and drop-offs. It's convenient, but it has some downsides, too; one parent had to make a "no cell phones during carpool" rule after the kids talked nonstop on the devices.
To keep a child's cell phone use under control, Blecherman suggests following these steps, gathered from conversations with other moms and dads: