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 May 14, 2005
Ringing Up Costs with Cell Phones!
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This "add-on's" are big with teens, but the fun features may ring up big costs too!  So what's a parent to do?  Call For Action has the answer.  Emily Schmidt loves to hang out with friends, go shopping, and of course chat on her cell phone and like more and more kids, 12 year old Emily recently racked up a big bill, $110.00 to be exact, much to the surprise of her mom.


Emily�s Mom:


�I was stunned!  I was furious!�


But the tall tab wasn't only from Emily calling her friends too much.




�This phone I'm able to take pictures with, I text message.  I can also download games, images, and, popular songs."


It's not just ring tones ringing up those bills.   It's the downloadable games and high tech chat.


Joni Blecher:


�Text messaging is huge! Especially among the teens."


Joni Blecher, a cell phone expert, watches trends in the industry.  She says prices vary greatly from plan to plan, so we checked out some of the leading carriers.  Text messages run 10 to 15 cents a pop.  Ring tones can run anywhere from $.99 to as high as $2.49 each!  And downloading pictures averages between $.25 to $.40 a shot.


Joni Blecher:


�It all adds up.  And then their parents are shocked to get a big bill at the end of the month."


Consumer advocates believe cell phone companies should offer parental controls, so moms and dads can block their kids from downloading pricey options and spending too much, but the wireless industry says controls should come from home.


Travis Larson Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Org:


�It's truly the parent�s responsibility to make sure that wireless phones are used appropriately.


But there are things parents can do.


Travis Larson Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Org:


�Prepaid plans are a great option for parents who don't have time or don't want to police their children. That way they won't go over their spending limits.�


What parents see as a safety device, kids see as a cool way to keep in touch with their friends.  Emily's mom says if her daughter wants the frills, she'll have to pay for them.


Emily�s Mom:


�Pass a note in school, don't text message, use the telephone at home, there are ways to control it."


Placing a monthly dollar limit will also help force kids to ration their dollars between gabbing and games.  While rates vary from company to company for the options, leading cell carriers stress that they also have monthly plans that charge a flat fee, so call your carrier for details.


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