The Easy Way to Tell if Your Kid Is Ready for a Cellphone

Mom Moment 51

cellphoneWe were sitting outside a restaurant enjoying a mother/daughter meal when my 8-year-old pointed to a girl at another table with her eyes wide. Perched on a bench was a girl about my daughter's age, a cellphone in a pink jeweled case in her hands. I didn't even let her start a sentence before I dropped my bomb, "You're not getting one."

She looked at me, a little wounded. It turns out she was just going to comment on how rude the girl was for using her cellphone at the table. Pheww! My kid has manners!

But she's still not getting her own cellphone. Not for a loooooong time.

I have thought about it. I upgraded my smartphone a few months ago, and I had the old one, still in working condition. I debated handing it over to her to use as a music player, with the possibility of hooking it up to a wireless service down the road.

My husband and I talked about it, but we were worried: would this rush the inevitable? Would "sometime down the road" become "this Christmas"?

I know an increasing number of parents are doing it for kids her age and younger. One recent survey found one in 10 kids were getting a mobile phone as early as age 5!

To which I have to ask: who is a 5-year-old so desperate to call?

I know my 8-year-old is already like a teenager, going into her room and closing the door when she talks to her friends, but she still has only a handful of people she'll chat with on the phone. There are no emergency calls that she has to make, nothing that can't be handled on our home phone (yes, we still have one) or one of her parents' cellphones.

This may be the easiest way to tell if a child is ready for their own cellphone: who are they going to call ... and can they call that person with a phone that already exists?

Right now, for my 8-year-old, the answer is yes. She can call her friends and her grandparents with any phone in the house.

She doesn't need a cellphone for the calls she makes right now.

By the time she's 12, when she goes off to junior high and may stay after school for clubs and sports, that answer may be no. She may have reason to call home to her father and to me about changes in game or practice schedules, although even then I'm guessing a coach's phone or school phone will be available for her use. We'll see at that point if we have to revisit this subject.

But if you're wondering if you should cave to your child's request, maybe it's time you sit down and ask yourself the question I've asked myself: are your kid's current phone call needs already being met? Then they don't need a cellphone.

If they're not, well, then maybe it's time to consider the purchase.

Do your kids have cellphones? How old are they?


Image via Kubosh/Flickr

independence, kid activities, technology


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gabe05 gabe05

My ten year old has a cellphone because we do not have a house phone and now that he is old enough to stay by himself for no longer than an hour, I wanted to be able to leave him with a way to contact me and me contact him when I am gone.  I think I have left my son four times in the eight months since he turned ten, but his pre-paid cell phone was very useful on those four occasions.  He is only allowed to use the phone when home alone.

arpazia arpazia

He did... He left it at a hotel. Haha

.Ange... .Angelica.

my oldest is only 6, no phone in his future

dusky... dusky_rose

My grown children have cellphones, but my 6 year old son does not. I think the one thing you are overloooking is that kids don't call, they text. I call my kids and they usually text me. So I text them now too.

2teen... 2teens2LOs

I got my older boys their first phones in 5th grade, they actually bought and paid for minutes themselves- they got "real" contract phones in 6th grade around 12 yr old/jr high school

My Daughter is 8 and has been begging for one and I agree, all her friends have them yet she doesn't and doesn't understand why she cant - I debate, well why couldn't she? but I just dont think its the time just yet, is she mature enough not to aggrevate everyone all the time- YES but does she truly need a phone- NO   ...  so for now, my answer is still no.

Kaci Kaci

Mine didn't get one until he was 17! He could use the house phone or the one on the office at school. :)

matt_... matt_sara_mom

Right now at this time my opinion is that when they can pay the bill they can have one. I have no intentions of them running around anywhere where there is no phone.  I plan on a parent being with them at any practices so they don't need them there either. Now that may change down the road and I am open to having to change my mind if absolutely needed.

timon95 timon95

my kids are 8 and 9 and are already asking for cell phones. i told them that when they can pay the monthly bill themselves then they can have a cellphone. they won't be getting one anytime soon

RobynS RobynS

My kids are 8 and 4--no where near ready for a cell phone. It will be a loooong time before we go down that road.

Miche... MichelleK41

Mine did at age 13, mostly due to medical reasons and when they are doing movies, etc., with friends I can keep in touch. Its not to help them look cool but for their protection for emergencies.

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