Cell Phones: How young is too young?

Is your child ready to handle the responsibility?

6 Things I’ve Read Recently:

1. Sixty-one percent of parents say that kids should be between the ages of 13 and 18 when they get their first cell phone.1
2. One out of three parents with children under the age of 9 think their kids should get their first cell phone before age 12.2
3. One out of three U.S. teenagers plans to buy an iPhone in the next six months.3
4. The most common technological gadget for a kid to lose (or have stolen) is a cell phone.4 Of parents who buy their child a cell phone, one out of four says the kid’s cell phone has had to been replaced at least once.5
5. Parents are more apt to get their child a computer before buying them a cell phone.6 Seventy-three percent of parents with children under the age of 9 say their should get a computer before age 12.7
6. A Harvard University professor says that kids are more likely to succeed when they don’t keep a phone in their room.8

Here’s My Take on It…

When our first child wanted a cell phone (at age 12), my husband and I said not until age 15, when our teenager was entering high school. Why? Because we had heard stories from other parents about how kids stole each other’s cell phones at sleepovers, used up all the monthly text messages (or phone calls) in one night, or held cell phones hostage until the child agreed to do something (that he or she may not have wanted to do). A cell phone is a big responsibility that a child needs to be ready to handle.

When my kids were 12, we bought a prepaid cell phone that we let them borrow when they were going out with friends—as an easy way to call home. That prepaid phone turned out to be a good way for our kids to practice using a cell phone (including how to keep track of it), and it also made it easier to monitor how our kids were using it. Still, I’ve heard from single parents how a cell phone is essential for younger children, but they’ve set firm rules for these younger kids to follow in using the cell phone. I don’t think there’s a “perfect” age for a child to get a first cell phone, but I do think a cell phone is a privilege and a big responsibility—not a right that a child should feel entitled to.

Talk Further

Ask your child: “Why is a cell phone important to kids?”

Explore Further

At what age should kids get their first cell phone? Share your comments below.

Footnotes
1. Jennifer Jacobson, “Should a Nine Year Old Have a Cell Phone?Retrevo Gadgetology Report, March 10, 2010.
2. Ibid.
3. Philip Elmer-DeWitt, “Survey: 31% of U.S. Teens Want iPhones,” at tech.fortune.cnn.com., April 12, 2010.
4. Jennifer Jacobson, ibid.
5-7. Ibid.
8. Dan Kindlon, Ph.D., Too Much of a Good Thing: Raising Children of Character in an Indulgent Age (New York: Hyperion, 2001), 177.

I’m in 9th grade and I still don’t have a phone. I offered to pay for my own phone, but my parents said I have to wait until senior year (grade 12). I think 12 or 13 is a good age for a phone

5

I’m in 8th grade and I had my first phone at 12. It’s was good cause I was going to New Orleans for a weeks and my parents want to know I’m safe. I think when your child enters middle school or 6th grade they should get their first phone. At first you might not feel right but after a while you will realize you made the right choice when your child has a cell phone for you to contact you if anything happenes at school or at a friends house. Because around that age,things happen and when your not a round your child may need to contact you. You should rather your child with a 100% more protection with a cell phone than without. Right?

There’s no right or wrong answer. Every child is different and every family is different. Do what feels right for you…after reading all the responses that was my conclusion. If you do say no to your child and they act like a brat, then explain why they’re not getting one and acting like a brat only shows their lack of maturity and it’s only reinforcing your decision…

I believe that your child is only ready for a phone after they have proven to you that they are responsible enough to handle something with that much power. Your child will also want what will be the coolest thing so it will be that will be expensive if they are going to ruin it right away there is no point in getting the next iPhone. I also agree that your kids should have a reason to have a phone. I understand if your child is active in sports or extracurricular activities or take public transportation home if they have a phone they can contact you when to pick you up, and where they are on their way home. I do not understand giving a phone to a child who just wants a phone to play games on it.

5
I'm a 8 year old I think 8 and higher should have atleast a starter phone.I have a dog and my mom knows I'm responsible enough to have a phone.But the problem is I go to after school care my mom thinks that I can only have a phone when i am staying at home by myself. But sometimes I go on field trips at my school if i was in trouble i would have no contact with her. Or my after school says that i have been there to long and they need a way to contect her. So I'm reading these tips online i hope they work.So parent tip people pkease help me.

I think they the children should have a cellphone when they can go out with friends or take a walk by them selves.

i think kids kids should have phones over 8

Can anyone also convince my parents to buy me one.

5

I’m seventh grader, recently turned 12, and my parents still haven’t gotten me a phone. They say soon, but soon never comes. Almost everybody has one in my grade, and there are like 300 kids in 7th grade. I really think that kids might not need them in 6th grade, but 7th grade. One very good reason is all the programs. FBLA, has an overnight trip at Orlando(that I live really close to). Parents are not allowed on the trip but even though, signed up. MUN, has a trip to the United Nations building in New York. I’m pretty sure you would need a phone to contact your teacher in case you get lost in that EGNORMOUS building. Also, even bigger, in my Spanish class, there is a trip to Europe, which is pretty intense. That’s why people should buy their kids phones when they go into 7th grade.

I personally think that kids should not have real cell phones at that age ( not that there are and aren’t real cell phones, they’re all very much real), but should instead have a prepaid or used phone at that age. I only believe this because almost every 10-12 year old I have met aren’t very responsible and don’t seem like they are ready to take care of one. As a teen, I can relate to this article because I didn’t get a cell phone until grade eight, but parents should also be aware of whether or not their child/tween is ready for the responsibility.

Growing up no-one in my elementary school had a cell phone. However, all of the fifth and sixth graders did use MSN Messenger, and played this chat-room type of virtual game called Habbo Hotel This was before Facebook or Twitter. At the time my ten-year-old self was exposed to TONS of creepy pedophiles, who would try to make advances with me over the internet. At ten I of course did not know any better. This was before the internet even blew up. As a 21 year old now, I am completely terrified for my future children. It is simply irresponsible to give elementary school children cell phones and unsupervised internet access. The parents in this discussion have not grown up with the internet in the same way that my generation has. The intentions of all who comment are good. Giving cell phones and ipads to young kids is unfortunately much scarier than you all may perceive it to be. Not to mention that these little kids are now bullying one another and sending sexual pictures via text. Keep them innocent as long as possible.

yes i like what thay were saying steven cochran

MAKE IT SHORT

5

I honestly think that kids should have there own cell phone at 9 to 10

I got my first cell phone at age 19 for college. Kids don’t need cell phones if my parents wanted to checkup on us they would call the school. Come on people. I paid for mine too.

I believe kids are too young to have their own cell phones. I follow the old fashioned rules when it comes to raising kids and letting them use cell phones before turning 15 can affect not just their physical aspect as well as their emotional being. - Ms. Sanders | Sell my cell phone
4

Cell phones are very important to keep in touch with your children. You want to give your children privacy and let them learn life experiences on their own, but you as a parent have the responsibility to protect your children. There are programs available, like the one I use, Mousemail that will forward threatening messages to the parent. That way you are able to give your child independence, but also keep a tab on what your child is getting in to.

5
I recommend buying used cell phones for kids since they tend to break them so often
2

As a single mom, I think cell phones are important to children only in two things. One is for communication needs and the other is for emergency purposes. If as a parent you don’t want to get the headache of wrong usage of phones in children, give them the right phone. My two kids have the Just5 phone. It is a prepaid phone and is a very basic phone with emergency response features. For me, there is no better phone so simple and functional for kids than the Just5 phone.

5

Those are very interesting statistics. I’m a teen, and I can completely relate to this article. Looking back on it, I don’t understand why I wanted a cellphone in 3rd grade. It’s completely pointless! I received my first cellphone going into sixth grade. In my opinion, that’s the perfect time to get one, because the first year of middle school is when kids become very social and need to communicate to there parents in emergency situations, or when they need to get picked up from someone’s house. I’m an intern for a parenting website that gives advice from a teen’s perspective (Radicalparenting.com). There’s an article on the site about this exact topic called “7 Steps For Parents: Should Your Child Have A Cell Phone”. You might want to look at a different perspective, feel free to check it out:
http://www.radicalparenting.com/2008/01/24/7-steps-for-parents-should-yo…

-Claire

5

Those are very interesting statistics. I’m a teen, and I can completely relate to this article. Looking back on it, I don’t understand why I wanted a cellphone in 3rd grade. It’s completely pointless! I received my first cellphone going into sixth grade. In my opinion, that’s the perfect time to get one, because the first year of middle school is when kids become very social and need to communicate to there parents in emergency situations, or when they need to get picked up from someone’s house. I’m an intern for a parenting website that gives advice from a teen’s perspective (Radicalparenting.com). There’s an article on the site about this exact topic called “7 Steps For Parents: Should Your Child Have A Cell Phone”. You might want to look at a different perspective, feel free to check it out:
http://www.radicalparenting.com/2008/01/24/7-steps-for-parents-should-yo…

-Claire

I found a great company just for kids that give parents free parental controls! The company is Kajeet.The monthly service is very inexpensive. I pay $14.99 month for my 14 year old’s Kajeet Lg Rumor’s unlimited texting service. That is wonderful! What’s great for me is that I can see the numbers she is texting and calling whenever I want.So if I see a new number I can question her about it. I also got 15% our phones at http://www.kajeet.com/logcabin127 .I have been using it for 3 months and I love it!

4

It’s true. Cell phones are just the beginning. Many kids today want all kinds of technological gadgets: laptop computers, cell phones, mp3 players, iPads, digital recorders, you name it.

In our family, we set guidelines for kids acquiring technology. Our kids share a computer in a room of our home where we can monitor them. (We also have parental controls set up on their computer, which we also check.) We’ve told them that we are happy to help them research the cost and list the pros and cons for something they are interested in buying.

But we have them save their money to buy a gadget. (We only provided a cell phone at age 15). I’ve heard of some parents providing matching funds when their child saves to pay for half a gadget. Then the parents match the child’s savings.
When you’re clear about what you expect, kids are less likely to keep badgering you over time. Yes, they’ll pull out the stops. All kids tell their parents that they’re “the worst parent ever” when kids vehemently disagree with their parents. Be patient. Tell them it’s okay for them to disagree you, but you’re remaining firm on your principles because you love them.

5

Now- a -days the cell phones are just the beginning. My daughter is asking for not just a cell phone but a iPad and many other things. When is it OK to tell kids…no? How do you draw the line and how do you hold the line when your kids tell you that you are the worse parent ever?

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