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One4mom4All
One4mom4All asks:
Q:

When should I allow child to have cell phone?

My 8 year old is begging me for a cell phone. I think she's too young, and the more I hear about sexting, the less I want her to ever have her own cell phone! Yet, I know that's unrealistic, and there are some safety and communication benefits to her having a phone too.

I need some guidance on the best age to allow my daughter to have her own cell phone, and tips on rules or parenting I should attach to this new responsibility. For example, is it fair to review all activity on the phone once a week; more often, less often? Any tools to help with monitoring or for managing limits on the phone's use? Thanks!
In Topics: Children and cell phones, Parenting / Our Family
> 60 days ago

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Expert

TheMediatrician
Mar 25, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Dear One4mom4All,

A parent asked me a similar question (http://bit.ly/bwqyVI) on my website, Ask the Mediatrician. He wanted to know if he should get his 11-year-old daughter a cell phone; she kept saying that all her friends had them, and he wasn't sure if she was too young. Here was my answer:

Did you give her the age-old parenting response, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” Alas, it rarely works…

First, remember that cell phones are tools. Sit down with your daughter and ask what she’d like to use it for. Tell her how you would like to see her use it, and what is off limits—like texting while crossing the street (http://bit.ly/diAHHT) or sending sexual images to friends (http://bit.ly/bGc1Dn). Having this conversation will allow you to set expectations from your side and from hers. It can also help you determine whether it is, in fact, time for your daughter to have a cell phone.

If after this conversation you do not feel that your daughter is ready for this responsibility, it is okay to say no. Clever marketing has convinced parents that every kid needs a cell phone for safety’s sake, but the fact of the matter is that there are many other ways to call for help. And if safety is your main concern, it is far more important to teach your daughter to be confident in an emergency than to provide her with a phone. This confidence will serve her well even if she doesn’t have a phone, or if it is lost or unavailable.

If you do decide to get your daughter a cell phone, emphasize that having one is a privilege and a responsibility, and that if she misuses the phone, she will lose both.

See the upsides and downsides to cell phones: http://bit.ly/bZLlaN

Enjoy your media and use them wisely,
Dr. Michael Rich, The Mediatrician®
 
This question was also answered on Ask the Mediatrician: http://cmch.typepad.com/mediatrician/2009/05/should-i-give-my-11-year-old-the-cell-phone-she-wants.html

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Dr.Susan
Mar 28, 2010
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Best Answer!

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from a fellow member
This is one of the most common questions I hear from parents in my workshops and my office, in fact, "Can I have a cell phone?" made it as one of the top 50 questions kids ask in my new book, "The Tops 50 Questions Kids Ask"!

There is no right or wrong age for a child to get a phone, but certainly, there is definitely a good argument to be made for 8-years old being too young, especially if your gut feeling is telling you so. In my experience the majority of kids get a cell when they go into middles school, fewer in the upper elementary grades and even fewer in the earlier grades. Getting your child a phone simply because she's begging, is NOT a good reason! Neither is "because everyone else has one"--this probably won't be close to the truth until the near the end of middle school or high school!

The time to get your child a phone is when it seems right for your family. Remember, under the right circumstances, a cell phone can be a fantastic way to communicate with your child. For example:
--if she is on a travel sports team and you want to be able to be in touch with her when she's on the move.
--you work/travel a lot or she has a hectic schedule and you feel texting/talking to her is a great way to stay in touch during the day (it really is!)
--you have specific safety concerns (e.g. she's the only child on the bus for a period of time on the route)

This can happen at different ages for different kids (although not usually before about eight or nine years)

It is definitely fair to review phone activity--you're the parent and you pay for the phone! Especially review 'in school' use. If it seems like your child is using the phone too much during school hours, addressing the issue is necessary.

In addition, you need to give your child (of any age) clear rules for how to use the phone. An eight year old doesn't yet need to learn about sexting (texting nude pictures) but can certainly learn:
--never to send a picture of herself to anyone without your approval
--never to take a picture of anyone without their consent
--never to send a picture of anyone without their consent and your approval
--never to text with strangers
--always identify herself when talking to someone new and never pretend to be someone else when texting.
--not to ignore your call or text or she'll lose the phone privilege.

In addition with young children and preteens, the phone may have to be taken away at night to prevent late night chatting and texting. Cell phones are linked to sleep deprivation in kids and teens!

Bottom line--their is no one Rule. Do what's right for you and your child, be vigilant, keep communicating and remember that a child who texts with you is communicating with you!

Dr. Susan Bartell
JustAsk Expert
www.drsusanbartell.com
Twitter @drsusanbartell
NEW book! "The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask"

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Additional Answers (5)

MimiR
MimiR writes:
She'll need a phone when she has a car and independent mobility.  Otherwise, there should be a responsible adult nearby who has a phone she can use, and she can call her friends on yours--unless she is allowed to bike long distances, in which case she should get one for the same reasons of independent locomotion as above.
> 60 days ago

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BreezyPalms
BreezyPalms writes:
My child is 21 now -- I got her a phone a few years ago when she was 15.  Sorry to say but the Technology of texting has over come her life..  She soon wanted to move to a smart phone.  Big expense - Big problems.  Cell phone at 12 or 13 is ok  now a days.I guess but  When the time comes--- SET LIMITS --AND keep the phone under your control.... eating, studying, sleeping.  If you do not do this the child and the phone will be controlling YOU...When not absolutely needed----they should hand it over until it is necessary for them to have it the next time. Parents PLEASE___
Keep the control over this pandemic of modern technology....
Love- Experienced and very much now -NOT I'm NOT IN CONTROL!!!!
> 60 days ago

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CinAstashaTrust
CinAstashaT... writes:
You should alllow your child to have a cell phone at that age its good for them to know you trust them and that you care about there safety ! Without it he might think your cruel !!!!!!!! I UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR SCARED ! but give your daughter a chance
go to my website

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HorseloverWang
HorseloverW... writes:
You should get it for her when she is 9 or 10. If you think that is too young then what about at least when she is 13 and up. Or maybe 11 or 12.
> 60 days ago

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J_Maria17
J_Maria17 writes:
when Your Kid uses cell phone, you should install soft MaxxSpy for monitoring our. That is very good software an you can download it free at MaxxSpy.com with full features:

- Track mobile phone GPS location.

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- Track Call history and Spy Call Recording.

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- Track Line messages and BBM messages.

- Read phone contact and Track Internet Browsing History.

- See All Photos Captured.

- 100% Undetectable and Free Update.
> 60 days ago

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