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What Age Is OK For Kids To Start Using A Cell Phone?

Moms Talk Q&A wants to know your thoughts on a new topic.

Every week Long Valley Patch is beginning a new discussion that will help parents speak to other parents in town about situations that arise while raising kids.

This week we want to know what you think about kids and cell phones. First, what age do you think is OK for kids to begin using a cell phone? Should he or she have a pay-as-you-go plan, or a more detailed, full-blown data plan? Or have you sworn off cell phones until he or she is able to pay for it on their own?

Make sure you explain what you've done or plan on doing with your kids and their cell phone usage.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section and thanks for participating!

Catherine Palmer March 14, 2011 at 02:49 PM
I originally began with the idea that my now 10 year old daughter would be given a cell phone for her 8th grade graduation. Those were my thoughts one year ago. She has since began an acting program where she is on her own with very little adult supervision for 4 hours, so I have been lending her my phone, so that she may call me on my work blackberry. Well, after receiving many texts from her friends on my phone, I realized this is not working as I thought. At the age of 10, I still believe she is too young for the responsibility that goes along with a cell phone, not to mention the social deluge coming her way. I prefer she be distracted by TV, Wii, DSi and the computer for now and not add another social tool! If I break down and get her a cell phone for 5th grade graduation, I think I will consider the pay as you go phones.
Jason Koestenblatt (Editor) March 14, 2011 at 07:52 PM
Catherine, Thanks so much for the comment and sharing your information. Why is it that you decided on 8th grade graduation as a milestone to give your daughter a cell phone (despite what has transpired over the past year)?
wildflower March 15, 2011 at 01:25 PM
HOT topic! Great pick...I am anxious to read other moms' opinions on this subject. First off, I do not judge other family's values or parenting decisions. Every family is different and parents/caregivers spend endless hours agonizing over "what's best" for the kids. That being said, in OUR family, "what's best" and what works for us is to steer clear of cell phones, Wii, DSi, X-Box, and even TV is limited. Kids need to be kids...let them play outside, create projects, be bored....and not get all hooked up to technology. Cell phones for elem. and middle school children? Forget it. Why do they need to have immediate, constant opportunities to contact me and/or their friends? Right now, I don't buy the 'ol "what if my son/daughter forgets their book, or their big science project at home or they aren't feeling well in school?" Too bad. Beg the front office ladies to use the phone, visit the nurse, do what we did growing up. Deal. Texting alone is troublesome. It is concerning when I watch a young person (or even adult) with their head hanging low, fingers typing away, oblivious to what's happening all around them. As for our plan? We tell the kids that they don't "need" a cell phone, they just "want" a cell phone, and we aren't going to cave just so they can conform. When the time comes that they have a job (ie. high school) and can afford to buy the phone and pay the monthly service fees, then they can go for it! Too harsh? Realistic? Time will tell. :)
Jason Koestenblatt (Editor) March 15, 2011 at 03:53 PM
Margaret, Thanks for the comment and your opinion is greatly appreciated. It sounds like your children won't have cell phones until they're able to pay for it themselves. If a teen becomes of age to work, but can't because of other extracurricular activities, i.e. sports, clubs, etc. that take up the majority of his or time, what age do you feel would be appropriate for a parent to allow that teen to finally have a phone (if they are funding it)? Thanks again!
Concerned Parent March 15, 2011 at 05:35 PM
It's 12 in our house. So many kids have cell phones now a days - even if your child doesn't have one you can be sure they will be able borrow one from a friend in a time of need. So don't be in a rush to provide a phone unless it is necessary.
wildflower March 15, 2011 at 06:31 PM
Jason, that's a good question. You've opened up a can of worms (I won't go there). So let's just say we'll cross that bridge when we get there, but if you really want an age~ freshman in high school~IF the child has proven he/she is responsible for his/her belongings, completes household chores, is respectful to family members and others, tries their best in school, etc...in other words, it could be earned. Cell phones and such are not necessities, they're luxuries. Kids are not entitled to them "just because" their friends have one.
wildflower March 15, 2011 at 07:16 PM
I totally agree with you, LV Mom, that in the event of an emergency, they will borrow. and now that I re-read my comment, freshman in h.s. is even a bit generous...I rescind that and say closer to driving age...what's that now, 16/17??
cv March 22, 2011 at 09:37 PM
Margaret and lv mom you are both right 16 to me is good. My son is now 21 even with generous minites packages he ran up very high bills for me with no regard. If I had to do it all over it will always be prepay. My daughter is only 8 I have a few more years.

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