Is Your Child Ready for a Cell Phone? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

girl with cell phone
My daughter now has a few friends who have cellphones. My daughter is 10, and in my opinion does not need a phone yet nor has she asked for one. But it has made me realize that we need a plan in place for when she does ask or for when we decide she needs one.

But at what age should kids get a cellphone?

In talking to other parents of tweens – the best advice to follow is that you need to do what works for your family. Maybe 9 or 10 years old is the right age because that child has a sports practice where they are dropped and need to call for a ride. Maybe it's a two family household so you want your child to be able to call you at anytime if they are not living with you that week. Maybe you dropped your land-line so you want to make sure your tween has a phone if they are now left alone at home for short periods of time. Maybe you just think your tween deserves a phone. Maybe there's no reason for your tween to get a phone until middle school?

According to an AT&T Mobile Safety study – on average kids receive their first cellphone at age 12.

So is your tween ready? Here are FIVE questions to ask your self before making that decision:
 
1. Why does your tween need a phone? Practices? Home alone for emergency situations? Why do they need to stay connected? Does it benefit the family?

2. Do they understand the cost and responsibility of having a phone? Do they just use it for emergencies? To only call you or home or family? Can they call friends? Can they text?If it's damaged or lost, who replaces it? Who is financially responsible?

3. Do they need a Smartphone and access to the Internet? Does it make more sense to just have a basic phone with calling and/or text only?

4. Do they understand the rules you've set and discussed for the phone? Do they only have the phone for specific reasons otherwise it is left at home? Does it get shut-off at night? Do you get to monitor all calls. Rules need to be discussed and agreed to before purchasing the phone.

5. Do they understand safety issues and possible texts or calls from strangers?

As with anything – your child's maturity level and your parenting rules will play into whether or not you think your own child/tween is ready for a cellphone and it's an individual family decision with many variables that only you can answer. Just make sure to communicate openly with your child and keep talking.

Does your child have a cellphone? What age did they get their first phone?
 
Photo via Flickr [PictureYouth]
 

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Is Your Child Ready for a Cell Phone? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

Tracy Morrison is a work-at-home mom to three daughters. After spending 15 years in the corporate marketing and sales world while traveling the world, she decided she was up to a bigger challenge and her children now fill her days with love, challenges, laughter and humility. Tracy started her personal blog Sellabit Mum in 2008 to document the lighter side of her parenting journey. She also works in the fashion industry and is a contributing writer at Savvy Sassy Moms. Her writing has also ... More

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7 comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    Neither me nor my fiance have smart phones so that would definitely not be in our daughter’s future until she can pay for it herself. And since we did the unlimited texting (it was the cheapest plan for what we wanted), I wouldn’t be worried about her going over the texting limit. That being said, it will probably be another 10 years before we think about getting her a phone (she’s just 15 months now).

  2. Zaiynab says:

    I never got a phone until I was 18. Neither did my brother. I’m going to do the same with my kids, the minimum age being 16 (if they get a drivers license then). Thankfully my husband supports me on this.

  3. My oldest got his cell phone at 16 when he started working for his Dad and he could afford to pay for his own. He started out with just texting because it was cheaper. My second son got his phone at 16 and he does chores for his just texting phone. There was no need for a phone before this point. Although I think if I made more money I would have gotten them one sooner. Maybe 13yrs old or so. On that note, my sister just got her 4 and 1/2yr old daughter a phone. Calling and texting. I don’t understand it. But it’s her choice. Why would you buy a girl of that age a phone to call and text with. She says she likes to call and talk to her while she’s at work. Okay, use Grandma and Grandpa’s phone. It’s not like my sister has a lot of money. Crazy! Just crazy!

  4. Arnebya says:

    My oldest daughter is 12 and we got her a phone recently. She catches the bus from school to the subway where one of us meets her. Outside of that, she’s always with an adult so there’s no need. I realized that even all the discussion pre-purchase didn’t prepare us for her inability to properly use the phone. She went over the minutes and data usage the first month (even though I had controls on internet during the day (meaning she couldn’t get online during school hours) and she isn’t allowed to take the phone into her room once it’s time for bed.) Simply put, she wasn’t ready and she CERTAINLY wasn’t ready for a smartphone (that was our mistake: she needs a phone to make and receive calls and possibly text. There is no need for her to have the internet in her pocket.)

  5. neisha says:

    My daughter is 9 she hasn’t asked for a phone but I’ve been thinking of getting her one because she lives with her granny and I want to make sure she can call me anytime she wants.

  6. cyu888 says:

    My almost 6 year old asked for a phone for his upcoming birthday. I nearly passed out. I definitely need this article although he definitely won’t be getting one for a few years. Great tips!

  7. Alison Lee says:

    Bookmarking this for the near future!

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