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If your child has a cell phone, you can call or text him to find out where he is and what he's doing and inform him of your own plans.

It can make you feel safer just knowing where your kids are.

No doubt about it: Cell phones are a great way to stay in touch anytime, anywhere. It’s a tough call for many parents because it’s not just about age.

You need to know what's involved -- in terms of both the phone and your child's well-being -- and the potential consequences of letting your child have a phone before deciding about adding that second line to your account.- You can't beat the convenience.

In a recent survey, four out of five cell-owning teens sleep with their phone on or by their beds, and teens who text were 42% more likely than those who don't to keep their device close at night in case they got a text. You can set some ground rules with a phone curfew to ensure your child gets a good night’s rest. A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study shows it’s the most distracting task a driver can do.

Other research has found that talking on the phone -- hands-free or not -- affects driving ability as much as drinking alcohol.

But early studies show that frequent texting and emailing can disrupt kids' concentration.

It can also become compulsive if kids start being "on call" 24/7 to keep up with their friends.

Does that affect health -- especially if children start using phones at a very young age when their brains are still developing?

And in an emergency, a cell phone can be crucial if your child needs to reach you -- or vice versa.

That's partly why many parents are buying their kids cell phones.

In 2011, an international study showed no link between cell phone use and brain tumors in adolescents and teens.

The researchers pointed out, though, that the people in that study didn't use their phones as much as people do today. Joel Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, says, "It will take several decades to get conclusive evidence on this." The FDA's web site states that "the scientific evidence does not show a danger to any users of cell phones from radiofrequency energy exposure, including children and teenagers." It's possible for cell phone users to reduce their exposure by spending less time on the phone or by using a hands-free device or speaker mode when making a call.

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