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At what age should a kid get a cellphone?

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Aloros

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My stepson-to-be has had a cellphone until recently. It was a gift from his grandpa, along with the cellphone plan. But his grandpa is canceling the plan now since he is moving to retire in another country (and stepson wasn''t using the cellphone in the manner his grandpa intended).

Just curious what the general opinion was on the proper age to give a kid a cellphone? He''s 11 right now, and while it was convenient for getting in touch with him when he was at a friend''s place...it''s sort of not necessary since his friends all live around the corner and we keep their parents'' numbers at home. It''s another $30/month to add him to my plan. I was thinking maybe around 14 or so?

Honestly, I didn''t get a cellphone until I was 22!
 

soocool

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My daughter got one once she was in middle school (age 12/13). She needed one in order to call home if she was staying late at school etc. She is now a sophomore in hs and just got text messaging a few months ago. She texts more than she calls.
 

asscherisme

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I bought my son one last summer for elementary school graduation. BUT that being said, its just as much for me so I can feel more secure with allowing him more freedom as he is getting older. For example, right now he is not home, he is at our local library. His favorite place to ride after school on his bike. He knows the rule is he has to call me when he gets there and call me when he leaves. I have him take his cell with him when he goes to a firends house or out to ride his bike. Also to school even though there is a no "ON " rule at school and it must stay in his locker at school but he does take the bus and it makes me feel safer about him on the bus. The Jr. high bus these days is VERY different that when I took the bus.

I don't allow him to text though and told him if I see he texts he will pay me for it. But that will change in the future I know. I also told him he is only allowed to call friends or family. He is really responsible with it and it makes me feel safer knowing he has it.

Also, during his activites that he does, after school, weekends, etc its nice that he has it. For example, if he wants to stay a littlle later, or go home with a friend or even if I get stuck in traffic and am a little late picking him up. Its nice to be able to stay connected with him.

I have found the more independence he craves, the more secure it makes me feel knowing he can reach me.

edited to add, my son does not have a fancy phone, just a basic phone that can take photos.

It amazes me that some jr. high kids have iphones and blackberries. I don't even have one!
 

KimberlyH

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I think it depends on the child and circumstances (goes home alone, goes out alone frequently, etc.). I think my rule would be, if I allowed my kid to use a phone, that it wouldn''t be his/her phone, it would be mine, available for their use. I would probably keep it in a kitchen drawer or something when the child was home and just have them take it when they were out without me. The child would be given the opportunity to earn their own phone over time by being responsible with it, but I wouldn''t just hand a kid, especially a preteen, a phone with no strings attached.
 

akw94

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Hi Aloros, mine got a cell phone when he started walking to/from school alone and staying home alone. He was in middle school so around 11 or 12. I am generally opposed to kids having cell phones, but I needed to feel he was safe and could reach me at any time while out of the house. The cell phone rules are that it''s not a phone for talking to friends. He can make short calls on it here and there but for the most part, it''s used as a just in case phone or to reach me. If he uses it for other purposes, he has to pay the cost, e.g., he texts a friend, the cost comes out of his allowance.
He also has to have it on him at all times when playing outside or he''s not allowed to go outside.
 

Elmorton

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There''s been a really interesting study done on developing brains and cell phones...I hope someone digs it up for this thread! I heard it on NPR a little more than a year ago.

IMO, 13 is an OK age for a cell phone, though I would think it''s OK to get a kid one of those phones that just calls home much younger than that for practical/safety reasons. What scares me is young teens (or heck, high schoolers) with camera phones. That''s a freaking mess.
 

FrekeChild

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I would also say that it depends on the child. I didn''t get a cell phone until I was almost 17, and that was because my mom got sick of me borrowing hers when I''d go out at night. She basically got it for me so I could have a way of getting in touch with her if something happened to me or my car (I was driving a real POS at the time). Turns out I ended up needing to call her because my car did fail on me, and I was in the middle of no where.

My future nephew is 14, and he got his first cell at 11. He has had it taken away at school for being on, he texts all of the time and his phone is way fancier than his mom''s phone OR her fiance''s. He has also lost and broken the older ones he had. He doesn''t really need it either, because he is picked up everyday by his grandfather or another relative, and is never left at home (he''s afraid to be). Not to even get into the hour long call to Japan.

If he were my kid, he wouldn''t have a cell phone. He doesn''t answer it half of the time unless it''s his friends calling, and he''s pretty irresponsible with it. So I really think it depends on the kid. I was super responsible when I was 11, and I wouldn''t have wanted that responsibility of keeping track of it and all of that.

Heck, I still leave it at home accidentally sometimes!
 

ladypirate

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When they start driving. I think too many kids have cell phones these days and they get them really young.

The other day I was talking to a mother & teenage daughter about being a teenager and having to call my mom collect because I got stuck somewhere. The girl didn''t even know what that was. When I told her, she said, "Man, I''m glad I didn''t live back then."
I''m only 25!
 

fieryred33143

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I didn''t get my brothers a phone until they were 16/17. Even then they shared a phone and it was only used to communicate with my mom when they needed to be picked up because they were in a lot of after school clubs.

Anyway, I think that if your child is in a lot of activities or if the child walks home, it''s beneficial to have.

There are pay as you go plans though if you wanted to teach your child responsibility. You can start with a low amount and remove/add based on their activity and how they behaved for the month. Just an idea
 

elrohwen

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LOL LadyPirate. That reminds me of how I used to call my mom collect from school. When it was time to say my name, I would just say really fast "It''s me. Come pick me up" and hang up the phone. lol In high school she could call me on my friends'' cellphones all the time.

I didn''t get my first phone until I was a sophomore in college
It was 2003 at that point and every 12 year old around had one and I still didn''t.


I think 14 or so is an ok age as long as the kid is responsible and there are some limits. Definitely by the time they''re driving I think a cell is a good idea. Younger than 14, I think those call home only phones are cool for keeping track of kids; plus it gives the kid less opportunity to abuse their phone privledges by texting and calling friends.
 

sba771

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I was 12, 7th grade. I was always busy at school or staying late and never knew when I would need to be picked up. Texting didn''t exist back then so it really was only used for carpooling.
 

MichelleCarmen

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Age 11 is too young to have a phone, but our society has changed so much since we all were little and everyone is more dependent upon our phones then we want to admit. Seems like the best middle-ground would be a phone that''s available for your step son if needed, but not one that''s costing an additional $30 per month. Basically, as Fiery said, a "pay-as-you-go" plan, that''s kept around for when/if he needs it. NOT a phone to keep in his backpack.
 

IloveAsschers13

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I got my first phone when I was 16. Some people STILL don''t have phones.

Now I do agree it''s great in times of emergencies, but I just think about when I was younger, there must have been PLENTY of emergencies and people got by. I think the driving age is a good time. It''s when kids are old enough to go out on their own, away from home, and might be on the road, where there isn''t always a phone at hand.
 

InLuv101

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Date: 3/20/2009 10:47:24 AM
Author: elrohwen
LOL LadyPirate. That reminds me of how I used to call my mom collect from school. When it was time to say my name, I would just say really fast ''It''s me. Come pick me up'' and hang up the phone. lol In high school she could call me on my friends'' cellphones all the time.

I didn''t get my first phone until I was a sophomore in college
It was 2003 at that point and every 12 year old around had one and I still didn''t.


I think 14 or so is an ok age as long as the kid is responsible and there are some limits. Definitely by the time they''re driving I think a cell is a good idea. Younger than 14, I think those call home only phones are cool for keeping track of kids; plus it gives the kid less opportunity to abuse their phone privledges by texting and calling friends.
LMAO!! I did this a time or too as well!
 

doodle

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ugh, this is such a sore spot with me! my husband''s ex-wife insisted my stepson needed a cell. he''s 10 now. he''s had a cell phone since he was 8.
the only place this kid goes alone is the freaking bathroom! anyway, i think a cell phone isn''t really NEEDED until one starts driving, although i could see the convenience of one earlier if a child is involved in a lot of extracurriculars with various pickup times, spends a lot of time out with friends, etc. also, i agree with others that it depends on the responsibility level of the kid--i personally wouldn''t give a cell phone to a 16 year old if he or she was going to abuse the privilege! at that age, you''re more than welcome to get a job and pay for it yourself, you know? the pay-as you-go things seem reasonable enough--maybe that''d be worth trying.

oh, and just to throw this in, too, since it was part of the OP, i think i was 20 when i got my first cell phone, and i don''t have one now because the plan cost more than it was worth considering how rarely i ever call anyone!
 

Aloros

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Thanks for all the thoughts! I think driving age might be a good time to give him a cellphone. Or maybe at 13 or 14...we''ll see. We live a couple blocks from the school and he doesn''t have to cross any big streets to get there - it''s smack dab in the middle of the residential area. He plays soccer, and the practice field is about a block away. So fortunately there''s never really a time we don''t know where he is or when we can''t get a hold of him. I love our neighborhood!

I like the pay-as-you-go idea. I''ll look into that.

It''s a challenge to deal with all these things, especially since this sort of technology wasn''t around when I was a kid. There''s no real precedent as to when you should put these things into a child''s hands. It''s baffling!
 

Icce

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I was 23 as I never really wanted one. I never really wanted friends and family to know where I was 24/7.....Whats wrong with good old peace (I didn''t really get in much trouble, I just thought it was a hassle updating everyone of my every move as I know what had to be done etc). My bf got me one when I was at university so he knew when to pick me up....I guess he got sick of the collect pay phone trick (pick me up instead of my name in the recording spot). If I had to pay for it myself I still wouldn''t have one today at 28!

I would say 16 is a good age if they taking out your car! I know you wanna feel secure but MILLIONS of kids grew up from 10-14 before they were invented and millions still could....they gotta live alittle and just becuase they don''t have a phone doesn''t mean they will turn in to a crack addict or somthing terrible will happen. Even if they have one not everything can be prevented either. Though I am not a MOM so it may be easier said than done!
 

Italiahaircolor

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My friend set her daughter up with a phone when she turned 8 and got all S+''s on her report card (that means satisfactory plus, btw).

She added her to the "family plan" and ended up paying around $9.00 per month more.

While I was totally shocked at first--since cell phones only became big business when I was 16, so I never knew a time when an 8 year old had a cell phone--she explained it was for the safety aspect of it. Taking it to play dates, soccer fields, ect...her daughter is never out of touch now, and that is the kind of peace of mind you can''t put a price on.
 

Haven

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I just don''t see the need for a kid to have a cell phone.

And as a high school teacher, I can say that I wish none of my students had cell phones. They are huge distractions, and it''s scary to see how little students communicate in person nowadays. Instead of a conversation: "Hi! Wanna come to the movies with us tonight?" it''s a text: Ima go 2 da moveez 2nite u in?
 

Elmorton

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This is why it terrifies me that teens have cell phones:

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20090113/NEWS0102/901130326

And recently, a college-age girl killed herself because of the photos via text she had sent her boyfriend when they were in HS. His next girlfriend forwarded them to nearly two entire schools (the one she attended and the one her boyfriend''s ex attended), and it followed the victim into her higher education.

I just think that parents need to be very, very aware of the "features" that they''re giving their child access to and know how teens use these things, because it''s very different from how adults use them. Of course I love having video and camera and internet etc on my phone, but how will/can a teenager use these things? I got my first phone at age 16, but the only options it had on it was an address book - it worked exactly the same way as a cordless household phone, and so that''s pretty much how I used it.
 

musey

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Date: 3/20/2009 10:19:59 AM
Author: ladypirate
When they start driving.
I feel as though there is a potential issue with this: All of a sudden they'll have access to a cell AND a car... which spells talking while driving, as a new driver... which spells trouble IMO!

I think that whenever a kid has use for it (they're involved in activities outside of school and home, for which they may need to contact their parent(s)/sibling(s) for a ride/help/forgotten item), it's time. If you're dropping your kid off for work/practice/a lesson, especially where they won't have access to a boss/teacher/coach's phone, it makes sense.

But I do agree with KimberlyH's stance that it would be her phone that they may use, as opposed to their phone.
 

diamondringlover

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my oldest son was 16, i got him one when he started driving, but the plans back then arent like there are now, it cost alot more money to get a extra line, my youngest son got his this last christmas and he is 11 (there is 11 years between my boys)
 

cara

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"A good cell phone is cheaper than a good car!"
-said my boss on why he bought old junker cars for his teen daughters.

If the kid is responsible and has use, it seems as soon as they are going lots of different places after school and need to communicate with you the parent it would be handy. Almost more as a benefit to the parent than the kid. I remember when I was 15 and started asking for my own car, the answer was no, no, no, so firmly I was convinced that it was impossible and I just kept asking mainly to try to demonstrate that I was a normal teen and lightly hassle them. One day my mom realized all the extra trips that she would be spared picking me up and that weekend I had a car. I didn''t even have a license! But I had a car.

For cell phone, I think its similar. Yes its a privilege and each parent has to evaluate their kid and their needs, but sometime in middle school seems right for some kids, while others would probably not be responsible enough or have an actual need of one until later in high school. Even in high school my brother would just screen his calls from the ''rents and I have no idea why my parents didn''t just turn off his phone as they were paying. Maybe they just kept wanting him to be responsible and reasonable, rather that admit that he was not and take away his luxury.
 

Haven

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Date: 3/20/2009 5:33:47 PM
Author: Elmorton
This is why it terrifies me that teens have cell phones:

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20090113/NEWS0102/901130326

And recently, a college-age girl killed herself because of the photos via text she had sent her boyfriend when they were in HS. His next girlfriend forwarded them to nearly two entire schools (the one she attended and the one her boyfriend''s ex attended), and it followed the victim into her higher education.

I just think that parents need to be very, very aware of the ''features'' that they''re giving their child access to and know how teens use these things, because it''s very different from how adults use them. Of course I love having video and camera and internet etc on my phone, but how will/can a teenager use these things? I got my first phone at age 16, but the only options it had on it was an address book - it worked exactly the same way as a cordless household phone, and so that''s pretty much how I used it.
El--I frequently see kids using cell phones to bully each other, to spread horrible rumors, or to set up locations for gang fights after school. If kids were capable of being responsible and using the phones only to contact their parents as needed and NOT while driving, then I''d have no problem with it. However, they are just not developed enough to see the consequences of their actions, so this very useful tool becomes a dangerous device in their hands.
 

ladypirate

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Date: 3/20/2009 7:22:36 PM
Author: musey
Date: 3/20/2009 10:19:59 AM

Author: ladypirate

When they start driving.
I feel as though there is a potential issue with this: All of a sudden they''ll have access to a cell AND a car... which spells talking while driving, as a new driver... which spells trouble IMO!
I definitely see where you''re coming from here--I was just thinking in terms of having one in case of emergency (car breaks down, etc.) Maybe just equip the car with one of those phones that can only call 3 numbers and 911?
 

FrekeChild

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Date: 3/21/2009 12:46:01 AM
Author: ladypirate
Date: 3/20/2009 7:22:36 PM
Author: musey
Date: 3/20/2009 10:19:59 AM
Author: ladypirate
When they start driving.
I feel as though there is a potential issue with this: All of a sudden they''ll have access to a cell AND a car... which spells talking while driving, as a new driver... which spells trouble IMO!
I definitely see where you''re coming from here--I was just thinking in terms of having one in case of emergency (car breaks down, etc.) Maybe just equip the car with one of those phones that can only call 3 numbers and 911?
Lol. I think this is a stellar idea. In reality I don''t think that most kids need a phone that will call a whole bunch of numbers. I think those phones that call only a few numbers and 911 are awesome. Heck, I wish I could get one if it would eliminate all of those awful solicitation calls...
 

steph72276

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BTW, all old phones can still dial 911 without having a plan so I would give him one of those for emergencies only until he decides he wants to work cutting grass or walking dogs, etc to pay for a plan. The parents buying their elementary students Iphones are just setting themselves up for trouble. No wonder kids EXPECT brand new cars when they turn 16...ridiculous.
 

neatfreak

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I''m also with getting kids cell phones when they are in a situation where they might need to call home, etc.

BUT I agree with Kimberly, it will be **my** phone to borrow and misuse will result in them having to work to pay it off or having privileges revoked.
 

Girlrocks

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My kids personally will not be permitted to have a cell phone until they are old enough to be walking/riding their bikes a lot of places by themselves, baybsitting, etc. where safety is an issue. But the phones will be held locked by me in my office and handed out when needed and then taken back upon their return.

I have a friend who just bought her 8 year old a cell phone...my first reaction was "you have to be kidding me", especially since this is a newly divorced mom who struggles each month to get all the bills paid and food on the table. BUT, the reason is that her ex is a closet alcoholic (a big part of the reason for the divorce) and even though she has expressed that during some really ugly custody hearings, it seems he always has an army of people there to dispute her claims, so he continues to get her daughter every other weekend. She bought her one of those Go-Phones (pay as you go) and slips it in the daughters backpack ONLY when she goes with her dad. The daughter tried to call her mom using the house phone a few times when she was upset that her dad was drunk, but that just enraged him. So this is a safe way for her to stay in touch with her mom without him knowing and gives the mom peace of mind (a little!). Of course, their situation is a whole other bag of worms that I really don''t want to get into.

So, unless there is a situation like that, no cell phones for my kids. Even when they get to the age of staying home after school alone, our rule will be that they need to be in the house until a parent arrives, so they can use the house phone to check in and get in touch with us.
 
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