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.
Ask your child: “Why is a cell phone important to kids?”
- Find out more about kids and cell phones in our Cell Phones section.
At what age should kids get their first cell phone? Share your comments below.
1. Jennifer Jacobson, “Should a Nine Year Old Have a Cell Phone?” Retrevo Gadgetology Report, March 10, 2010.
3. Philip Elmer-DeWitt, “Survey: 31% of U.S. Teens Want iPhones,” at tech.fortune.cnn.com., April 12, 2010.
4. Jennifer Jacobson, 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.