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3 On Your Side: Tween Cell Phone Use On The Rise

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- These days, everyone seems to have a cell phone. As 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan tells us, children ages eight to twelve—or "tweens"—are now the new growth market for the wireless industry.

A recent survey by the National Consumers League finds that nearly 6 out of 10 parents have provided their tween children with cell phones.

Eleven year old Rael Baird just got his first cell phone. He says, "I was happy to get a cell phone because I've been wanting it awhile." And Rael isn't the only one.

"There's a 6-and-a-half-year-old kid on my bus who has an iPhone."

Rael's father, Stacy Baird, believes the cell phone helps in many ways. He says, "It's a good way to keep in touch with each other without being intrusive and creates a responsibility with the act of being in touch."

But the National Consumer League says there are some things parents should ask themselves before buying a tween a cell phone. These include:

- Will the cell phone be used to stay in touch with parents and friends or for emergency use only?

- How much do you want to spend per month on service?

- What is your tween's school policy on cell phones at school?

- Is your tween mature enough to use the phone responsibly?

That hasn't been a problem for Rael. His father says, "Rael has been a responsible kid, and he's been responsible in many aspects of his life, so giving him a cell phone wasn't changing that formula."

The average cost for a tween's cell phone is $75 dollars a month, with only 4 percent of tween's having a basic phone with no web or texting access.

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