DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: MY EX IN-LAWS DECIDED TO GET MY 13 YEARS OLD DAUGHTER THE NEWEST PHONE FOR HER BIRTHDAY. MY IN-LAWS ARE WELL OFF AND DID NOT CONSULT ME. MY PROBLEM IS THE COST OF THE MONTHLY PLAN. I AM A DIVORCED MOM AND I STRUGGLE TO MAKE ENDS MEET. I DON’T WANT TO DISAPPOINT MY DAUGHTER OR MY IN-LAWS. Cindy, LaBrea
Dear Cindy: It’s too late, but your in-laws should have consulted you since as a parent, you are the grown-up when it comes to both money and screen time. But, back to the finances: you could ask your 13 year-old help out financiallyperhaps by getting a small side job like baby-sitting. The two of you could also search for a less expensive but suitable phone plan. Or, she could agree to use her phone only on wifi assuming you have a home router.
These are good discussions to have with a teen. This new phone could also begin a different discussion. The latest operating systems are loaded with tools that help parents see ‘teen time’ online.