Young brothers talking on cell phonesTwenty-two percent of young children own a cell phone (ages 6-9); 60 percent of tweens (ages 10-14) do; and 84 percent of teens have one.

The parents who give those kids cell phones generally say they do so for safety reasons; they want to be able to reach the child any time. Cost is also a factor. Cell phone industry experts say phones and family plans are both becoming more affordable. Also, as adults upgrade old devices for newer models, it’s easier to pass down a used phone.

But for children, it’s all about social life. A Pew study found half of 12- to 17-year-olds send at least 50 text messages a day and text their friends more than they talk to them on the phone or in person.

Of course, owning a cell phone comes with possible outside threats. Here are 10 tips from SafetyWeb to help keep your kid safe while using a cell phone.

1. Get educated and prepared. Talk to your kids about the dangers and consequences of inappropriate cell phone use. Discuss topics including sexting and talking or texting while driving. Make sure you know popular acronyms and initialisms. Ask your kids to save any abusive or problem messages to show you.

2. Select appropriate phone features. If your child is under 10, he probably doesn't need a phone with unlimited social networking or email capabilities. Likewise, the actual phone itself doesn't need built-in features like a web browser or video messaging. For a young child, look for basic phones. Review pre-programmed apps and phone capabilities beforehand.

3. Use parental controls. If your child's cell phone can access the Internet, see if your service provider offers parental control features to which you can subscribe.

4. Limit usage. Designate times for talking—perhaps after homework and chores, or before dinner. Don't let constant calls interrupt family time. It's easy for a teen to cuddle up to a phone at bedtime, so check periodically.

5. Consider using a monitoring service if you're uncomfortable with your child texting and emailing unmonitored. 

6. Wait before answering. Instruct your child not to answer calls or texts from numbers she doesn't recognize. If it’s important, the caller will leave a message and she can decide how to respond. Explain how to block calls from unwanted numbers.

7. Pre-program important numbers.

8. Stay organized. Always keep your child's cell phone charger in the same place. It's best to find a central location, like the kitchen counter, or a table by the door. Mark the end of the monthly billing cycle on a calendar to remind her how long those dwindling minutes have to last.

9. Practice privacy. Tell your teen to use caution when giving out his phone number. Make sure he doesn’t publicize his number on the Internet or social sites like Facebook.

10. Be careful of download overload. Fun ringtones, games, and backgrounds can come with potential bugs or hidden fees. helps consumers and parents protect their identities, privacy, safety, and reputations online through real-time monitoring and instant alerts.

At what age did you give your child a cell phone? How's it going? Have you experienced any issues with safety?