Am I depriving my teen if I don't get him an iPhone?

Not at all. Smartphones -- especially the latest, fanciest ones -- have become status symbols for kids and are the source of a lot of peer pressure. (Get tips on how to manage high-tech hand-me-downs.)

Be prepared for lots of impassioned speeches from your teen about why he needs an iPhone, but, if you don't want or can't afford to get one, know that plenty of kids don't have them and do just fine, so long as they have some exposure to digital tools and the chance to develop technology skills at home or at school.

But, if you decide that your teen is responsible enough to follow your cell phone rules and you want to go for it, here are three ways to establish some control over the situation:

Discuss appropriate smartphone use. Make sure you and your kids are on the same page about when and how the phone can be used. Make this a discussion, not a lecture, so teens feel their voices are heard.

Manage smartphone features. The power that smartphones provide may make you uncomfortable. Know that you can start with limits on access (to the Internet, for example) and expand as kids demonstrate responsibility.

Have your kids pay their way. Have them contribute to the cost of the iPhone or the data plan -- or both. They'll probably take better care of the phone if they understand the costs.

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Comments

Kid, 12 years old

First of all, get your kid an android. Go open source! Second of all, not really. I have been presented with the opportunity to obtain a smartphone by my parents, and I find them a waste of time. If your child will pay out of pocket, by all means, let them have it. Also, if your child just wants the phone to use on trips for the airplane or other slow occasions, get them and ipod/ipad/android tablet.
Parent of a 12 year old written by susanb101

If you can't afford an iPhone then explain to your child, why you cannot get s/he a smartphone, for that reason. However if you can afford it, it would make a great birthday/holiday present for your child, as a lot of children have then nowadays so it is easy for the ones who don't have them to feel left out
Teen, 13 years old written by dudetato

I am 13, and I paid for the phone (iPhone 5S), and for every month. If they really want the phone they should buy it themselves instead of developing entitlement issues. It's okay to buy a cheaper phone for them like a flip phone for safety but iPhones are more than a communication device, they are a symbol
Parent of a 15 and 18 year old written by Finnella Flanagan

No one in the family has a smart phone, not even the parents. My sons are 15 and 18, and neither of them needs a smart phone. For us, this was a lesson in economics since the monthly data fees were not in our budget. (Neither wants a smart phone badly enough to even talk about paying for that data.) Even with what we call our "stupid phones" our kids pay for the replacement phone if they break or lose one.