Parents, before you make the call on a teen phone:

*Consider how the phone will be used: Would a pager fit the purpose more cheaply? What about voice mail or call waiting?

*Consider the cost: Maybe the teen can pay part of the bill. Check with your phone company for special teen rates. It's also possible to prepay some phone lines to keep a lid on the monthly charges.

*Establish ground rules: Set limits on total phone time as well as hours of use. And remember, a phone can be treated like any other privilege - abuse it, you lose it.

*Consider the Internet: Filters and parental controls can help you keep in touch with where your child travels in cyberspace. And if you don't know how to use it, ask your child to show you. Listening helps open up the lines of communication between parent and child.

*Check with your local phone or cell company for discount rates for add-on lines, prepaid, time-restricted lines, or distinctive child-call rings.

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