A couple weeks ago, we got our oldest daughter (who's 11) a cell phone. It seems both surreal and completely natural at the same time. Surreal, since cell phones really weren't common when I was 11 ... and natural because my wife and I both have cell phones ... and we don't have a home phone. So rather than her borrowing ours to call her friends all the time ... now she's got her own.
Anyway, the cell phone came with some rules. She's not to give her number out to anyone without asking us first. And she's not to answer the phone if it's a number she doesn't know. No calls before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Pretty standard stuff.
The little one (who's 8) does NOT have a phone.
They do, both, however have email addresses now. I've wanted to get them email addresses for quite some time, actually. So they can email friends and - specifically family - many of whom live out of state.
The concern was always safety. I get - on average - 1,000 spam emails a DAY. Now, I understand that I get more than most, due in large part to the fact that I put myself (and my email address) out there alot. But many of those emails are unsuitable for children's eyes. So, I didn't want to get them a GMail, Hotmail or Yahoo account. I wanted a kid specific email that I could oversee.
I found one called EZPZeMail. It's not free, but it's not cost prohibitive either, especially since we're talking about the safety and wellbeing of my kids here. The best thing about it (in my opinion) is that the kids can only send or recieve messages from people in an approved list ... and guess who gets to do the approving. :) Anyone in that list, the message goes straight to their inbox. Any messages from anyone else goes to me. I can then either approve the message for the kids to read it, or I can delete it and they never have to see the type of smut we're used to in our inboxes.
Go to the forum to submit your own "kids and technology" tips or tricks.