Poll: Kids and Cell Phones/computers

Updated on December 31, 2010
L.M. asks from Rowlett, TX
20 answers

OK, so I'm just seeing if I'm out of the loop. My daughter is telling me that all her friends have cell phones. She's in 4th grade. (Now I know the "all" is an exaggeration, but it is quite a few for sure.) My son has mentioned about some of his 2nd grade friends having phones. I am a 1st grade teacher and I know some of my students have phones. I just think they are too young. My kids are with me, what do they need their own phone for? They aren't ever alone. If they want to call someone, they can use mine. So, I've said all along that they don't need a phone until they drive. I'm keeping the bar a bit high- we might give in around middle school, but not sure- Def. not elementary school. So, I'm just wondering... what age do you all think is ok for cell phones? What age did you let your kids have their own phone? Now, I'm not changing my mind about elementary, but I'm trying to decide what age after that might be a good idea. On another note, I don't agree with elementary kids on Facebook, but not sure what age is appropriate after that. I know my 13 and 14 year old nephews have accounts.

So, moms- let me know what you do! :) THANKS!

Update: A couple more thoughts... If parents aren't together and the kid wants to call their mom/dad, I think it's fine to have a phone. Maybe one of those family plans that only let you call person A,B, or C. I just know my daughter and the minute she is with my mother in law- she grabs her iphone and begins playing games, listening to music, and texting people. It drives me nuts. I know if she had one she would be CONSTANTLY texting people. She is like a teenager trapped in a 9 year old body and has been ever since about 1st grade! I know, I have my work cut out for me when she's a teenager. For those of you who do have younger kids with phones, do they have the other features like texting or is it mostly a locked plan to call parents?

Computers: I let my kids use the family computer for webkinz, starfall, homework, and such. I'm a bit hesitant on them having their own computer with internet access. Honestly, I just know she'll look up other stuff if I wasn't able to monitor as closely. We already had to ban the computer for 6 weeks because she was not following the rules and being inappropriate. Since then, she's been a lot better. She can go to the sites that are marked favorites and she loves making powerpoints. If she needs to research for school, I'm pretty close by. If she wants to look up something else, she has to check with me. She likes pictures of animals and stuff- loves the San Diego Zoo website. :)

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answers from Hartford on

I think kids are getting into this whole technology thing way to early. My nephews got cell phones for xmas, 6 and 8 years old. I think it's ridiculous and a huge distraction. I would say high school, but maybe I am way out of the loop.

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answers from Dallas on

Ugh, the little girl (7 y/o) that I babysit has a phone and it drives me crazy. It just seems so unnessesary! My DD is almost 10 and no way, no how will she be getting one any time soon. Maybe around 12-13 when she's able to go off with friends...
She has her own laptop, but it's mainly to play webkinz and do school work. She is not allowed on facebook or anything and won't be allowed until she is at LEAST 15-16 and with it monitored.

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answers from Hartford on

I think kids are getting into this whole technology thing way to early. My nephews got cell phones for xmas, 6 and 8 years old. I think it's ridiculous and a huge distraction. I would say high school, but maybe I am way out of the loop.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Ugh, the little girl (7 y/o) that I babysit has a phone and it drives me crazy. It just seems so unnessesary! My DD is almost 10 and no way, no how will she be getting one any time soon. Maybe around 12-13 when she's able to go off with friends...
She has her own laptop, but it's mainly to play webkinz and do school work. She is not allowed on facebook or anything and won't be allowed until she is at LEAST 15-16 and with it monitored.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I'm glad you updated that SOME kids do need phones (those who aren't with their parents all the time). A lot of parents I know make unilateral pronouncements that no ______ aged child needs a cell phone, or this, or that, or whatever.

My son has been using my phone (calling and texting -early reader) since he was 3. He got his own cell phone when he was 5. (He's 8 now). Here's why:

- To be able to reach me 24/7. He's NOT always with me. He's frequently with his dad (who has temper issues), in outside classes, on playdates, or being babysat.

- Along the same lines of "not always with me"... he goes on runs (snowboarding) without me... he uses the bathroom in the movie theatre or ball park without me... he's often out of shouting distance playing forts in the woods with his friends. There are tons of times where having his cell means that I know *exactly* where HE is, and can track him or coordinate with him. (Esp. in the winter when we're on different parts of the slope.

- GPS tracking. Mostly, I just use it to keep an eye on where he's at, when he's not with me. But in the (exceedingly unlikely) event of being kidnapped, he's too young for most people to think that he'd have a tracking device on him. Because of the tracking he gets to FEEL independent in ways that I would never allow him otherwise (like being out of sight in the woods playing forts... or running ahead while hiking... or going to the restroom alone at the ball park or going on a black diamond run or the freestyle park that I'm not advanced enough for... or... or... or. YES a lot of those things I did on my own growing up, and even though the world is much safer... *I* feel comfortable allowing him to do those things knowing I can track him AND reach him in a moment's notice).

- We don't have a landline. (too freakin' expensive... even in our own area code it costs more than having 3 cell phones, and half my calls are out of area code). Having his own phone means that in the (rare) chance that he needs to call for help, he can.

- LASTLY (and most importantly, imho) he's being taught phone etiquette YOUNG. I was taught phone etiquette as a child... but cell etiquette and landline etiquette are 2 totally different things. There was a "gap" generation when cells became commonly used that has DEPLORABLE behavior with cell phones. Talking in restaurants, texting while driving, ignoring the people in front of them to talk to someone else entirely... the list goes on. Because the "rules" are being ground in young, after only a few years they are *already* 2nd nature. And the rudeness that many teens who are suddenly unleashed on the world with phones is as baffling to him as someone who would pee on a dining room table. Because he was/is so young he accepts phone rules as a "matter of course" and not something to rebel against or "mom doesn't get it" kind of thing.

I should add... that starting this year... he also PAYS his cell bill every month.

As far as computers... we're a techie house. Kiddo's been using the computer for starfall / etc. since he was 2.5. He had an old hand-me-down laptop since he was 5ish/6ish. And is the proud new owner of his own macbook. Which he saved for for over 3 years and just bought a few months ago (we meet him halfway on large purchases). It's indispensable as far as school work goes, and it's invaluable as far as sooooo many other aspects of use. From watching videos on long plane flights to, again, teaching proper use and etiquette, to behavior management, to Skype-ing his friends or family that live overseas or out of state. I'm not mathematically or programming minded (greek to me) but kiddo's been programming now for over a year. He also uses Adobe AfterEffects (and other video editing and sound editing programs like Garage Band to make and edit the films he shoots with his Flip, and Photoshop on his stills). We LOVE that all three of us can be in the living room curled up with laptops working on various things / sharing air / talking back and forth / being right there to help or to show something interesting to. He's not allowed unfettered access to the internet (youtube, for example is banned without a parent at his elbow), but the internet is a wealth info & experience that is too valuable for us to neglect. ESPECIALLY from an educational standpoint.

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answers from Dallas on

My daughter got her first cell phone around 10. She is 16 now. Personal preference... no one is right or wrong... you do what is right for your family.

Computers.... my daughter was on the JumpStart Series by age 2 and learning keyboarding in preschool. Computers are an integral part of the classroom beginning in K around here. It is VITAL in high school. She does a LOT of homework presentations and research for her honors classes on her laptop.

She got her own laptop about 3 yrs ago. It is loaded with resources and programs for her education. Yes, she has internet access. SHe has a facebook account and used to have MySpace account.

Our deal is I have the login and passwords and I randomly check the account to make sure all is on the up and up. So far, she has been very responsible with her phone and laptop.

Texting... yes, we both text a LOT. We both do more texting vs talking on the phone. Yes, she texts her friends and as long as she is responsible... we are ok with it.

When I was her age, I was in my room on my own phone talking all the time and it drive my mom nuts. Texting is basically the same, except a varied form of communication with the teens.

You just have to figure out the best balance for your family. I know my family probably texts more than the average family and we are all on our laptops a lot. I run our company from my laptop, daughter is also learning what I do with the company in case she needs to step up and help more someday.

Good luck!

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answers from New York on

With my daughters they got cell phones upon starting middle school (age 12, and age 11). Why? because I wanted to be able to contact them and for emergencies. They participated in several activities and if I was stuck in traffic or needed to work late I wanted to let them know what needed to be done or who was picking them up. They needed to call if they were staying after school for something. They also walk from school.

As for facebook, oldest mid 9th grade, youngest mid 8th grade. It took it alot of convincing and begging on my kids part. Yes, I know their passwords and I frequently monitor their activity.

Texting - absolutely no way, non-negotible. When they go go college maybe?

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answers from Austin on

I agree that unless they need one to get in touch with you or their father, there is no need for the cell phone..

I know here in the public schools, the children are taught how to use the computer in kindergarten.. moat of their research is done on the computer by 3rd grade, but the schools can provide the safe research on campus and parents are offered "parental controls training" through the schools.

It is easy to say you will never, but technology and kids are going hand in hand with childhood, so you never know what will be necessary. Once our daughter was in high school, almost 100% of her Ap classes, the homework was sent electronically, My niece is in 7th grade and a lot of her work is sent in electronically also..

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answers from San Francisco on

You will definitely want her to have a cell phone by middle school. They are not always with you at that point and it gives you peace of mind.

So, I think when she starts going places by herself, she should have a cell phone. That will certainly happen by 7th grade.

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answers from Santa Barbara on

My daughter did not get a cell phone until seventh grade (middle school here). Prior to that she was with me, at school or after care....no need for a phone in my mind. In seventh grade she started walking home or to a friend's house and it was always nice to be able to reach each other. We have never had a problem with the computer, she has a laptop but usually uses it in the second desk in my office so we are kind of hanging out while I get my paperwork done.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

oldest got his phone in 8th grade and it is "grade dependent" if he keeps up his grades he gets to keep his phone grades drop phone service suspended untill grades rise. I dont think they need one until about 12-13 when they start to hang out more with friends and are gone from home getting more independent. Both my boys have computers in thier rooms but they are parental controlled and really they spend more time on the one in kitchen

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answers from Columbus on

My daughter did not get a cell phone until she was in the 8th grade because that is when she started walking home from school. I told her that if "all" of her friends had one that was great because there would always be someone she could borrow a phone from if necessary. And she doesn't have her own personal computer because I don't think that I would be able to accurately monitor her surfing.

Lol to Elizabeth. My husband encouraged me to get her one earlier for the exact same reason....so her father could call her without my having to even hear his voice, which I must admit I thoroughly enjoy now...but I'm glad I waited because I don't want her to expect all the techy or trendy stuff that "everybody" supposedly has.

Also, my daughter is not allowed to text on her phone. As a teacher I see too many students unable to spell simple words because of texting. And I don't want her to develop that habit, which may be a problem in the future when she starts driving.



answers from Philadelphia on

I have 3 kids and I am going to keep them from having their phones for as long as possible.
My oldest is in 5th grade and 5 of his friends have cell phones. The kids are in 5th and 6th grade. Now if the parents work full time its probably important to have to know where your children are. I am home full time with our kids.
My middle child is in first grade and I have not come across any first graders with their own phone or second graders. I think its plain silly.
I remember one year at Christmas when I was a child my grandparents gave me an expensive watch. It didnt last long and I was in 7th grade. Why do kids need such expensive things...unless the parents both work full time.
My oldest son has asked for a phone and a Itouch. I tell him NO. Why do you need an Itouch. Well his friend has one at 11 yrs old. Crazy!
Also my oldest likes playing a online game at "club pengiun" now my two younger kids dont like playing it but they do like watching their brother play. he has to ask before he can use the computer or video games or tv.
during the week he usually has 2 hrs of homework a night plus studying so that has to get done before he can use the computer.



answers from Los Angeles on

For a cell phone: freshmen in high school unless, she has to walk home alone in middle school. For both ages I'd use the parental control service and limit who she could call/text and when, especially blocking out calls & texting during school hours.

Independent Internet access at around age 16-17, still with some supervision. Totally supervised Internet for games and research is fine at your daughter's age. Install parental controls here too.

Kids want to grow up too fast. These activities are distractors from education the same as unlimited use of game systems and television are. Children have plenty of time for socializing at school, sports, and during playdates, birthday parties, etc. They don't need cell phones or to be on computers when they could be outside playing, doing their chores, reading, or doing homework. There is little value to your daughters requests and as a teacher too, I see that only the older kids have phones at school (13 & up) and they have to turn them off when they come on campus.

I'd say no, sorry.



answers from Anchorage on

My son just turned 7, and he keeps asking me for a messaging phone. I told him he can have one when he turns 14.



answers from San Francisco on

When my children are older as in jr high, I will allow a cell phone. Until then, I am completely fine with them borrowing mine if they need it or to take to a friends house for their first overnight etc. (emergency use, moral support etc). I think elementary school is WAY too young to have a cellphone~ As far as facebook and all the other social network sites, my kids will NOT be allowed until they are in high school!

Thanks for posting!




answers from Dothan on

Im all for teaching kids technological advances but at this age they dont need cell phones. They need to be learning how to navigate a computer thats about it. Thats way too young for cell phones, when the kids are about 11-12 I can understand starting them into it.


answers from Dallas on

Cell phones: I think 12 or 13 at that age, is kinda when they start to do stuff on their own. The computer, I think middle school, so the same age. No face book though


answers from Dallas on

My kids are still babies so I haven't had to deal with this issue yet but in my opinion I don't think kids need phones until they actually need phones. I got a cell phone when I started driving bc my parents thought I would need one if something happened. If the child is with out adult supervision they may need to have a phone handy but if they want one just for fun there really isn't a need. My nephew got one when he was 7 and I thought it was dumb. They said he needed it for when parents weren't around... don't really know why a 7 year old would be left alone. As far as face book I think it's a little mature for kids. I know that Ive personally had to delete "friends" (and family) bc their comments seemed inappropriate for me to read, an adult, much less a kid.


answers from Kansas City on

my daughter has a cell phone and she is in 5th grade (11 yrs old) I didnt want her to get one, buut my husband managed to convince me, seeing as how her dad and i are divorced and id rather not have to talk to him even so much as to answer the phone to give it to my daughter. She is allowed to tall/text only those people on her contact list. and not after 9 pm, or at school. she has to keep the phone on her at all times unless she is at home. (we subscribe to the family locator plan so we can see where her phone is with in 2 meters at all times, and have all of our phones insured to fix or replace them for uber cheap) at school it is silenced, and she understands that if she is caught on her phone at school or on the bus, it will be taken away by the school (which i support as natural consequences). The plan we have is sprint's unlimited text talk and web. (she is not allowed on the net). she goes through spurts where she is texting her friends all the time and then she goes for days on end where she barely touches it. I also have the alarm on it set to wake her up at the right time in the morning, and when to leave for the school bus.

also, i leave for work before the kids get up in the morning. my husband is home if there is an emergency, but he works nights. the kids have a routine where they get up 15 min apart, (that way there is no fight over the bathroom) and they get dressed down to their shoes before eating breakfast, and are allowed to read, not watch tv, and have an alarm clock to remind them when to leave for school. and they get home just over an hour before i get home. Next year, amber will be in middle school, coming home before her brother, so she will be alone in the house for a bit before her brother and then i get home so, that's just more reassurance.


answers from Jacksonville on

No opinions, just what we do:

We have 2 kids. a 12 yr old 7th grader and a 9 yr old 4th grader. Neither has a cell phone. Well... not one with any service, haha. They both begged and begged for our old ones that aren't connected to any service. They both are aware that they WILL function to call 9-1-1 and they do NOT play around with that. But they also use them to record voice memos to themselves or take photos. And our son uses his as an alarm to remind him to take his pre-bedtime meds.

Our kids are rarely away from a parent or teacher. I drive them to school every day and pick them up every day. I take them to piano lessons (where I sit and wait during the lesson), and to karate classes (where I sometimes sit and wait through the class and sometimes don't. But when I don't, the karate school has a telephone and they can use it to call me if they needs to - they know MY cell #). I don't drop him at the mall with friends or leave him at the movies or anything like that. If they go over to a friend's house their friend has a house phone and a Mom. lol

Probably the only scenario that it might be useful is when I let them browse (together) the toy aisle at Target while I grab a few things from another part of the store. But half the time in Target, my phone doesn't get a signal anyway.... soooo...

I'm sure that in another year or so our eldest will be more independent and be away from us more often. And when that happens he will probably get a device to call or text us. Likely, he will get an ipod touch, which he will be able to use to text me without having a monthly fee. If I understand the technology correctly. Or it's coming soon, so I'm told.

Our kids don't go online without express permission. They have computers in their bedrooms, but they do not have online access on them. So to go online, they have to use MY computer in the family room (when I or my husband aren't using it, lol). They do not have FB, nor will they for a LONG LONG time. Maybe when they are 18!

Our daughter is like you described with yours, immediately going for Gram's iphone when she is around. The games ARE great. But if Gram had told her "no" from the get go it wouldn't be an issue. lol
Our daughter (the 9 yr old) did receive an iPod touch for Xmas this year. We (parents) are still figuring out what online stuff she is capable of accessing from the WiFi. She cannot purchase apps or anything else without my personal approval (I am the one that knows the access/password), and she comes to me and asks me about different things. Her first 2 things she wanted to download were the iBooks app (and a free copy of Winne the Pooh- which she has now finished reading) and a copy of the Bible. Folllowed by: "Mommy! This app is only 99¢ and it has 100 classic books! I want to read Little Women!"

She is extremely bright and mature for her age. lol

I would be surprised if the cell phone craze for teens and young kids doesn't disappear soon, as technology makes texting less expensive (or free) depending on the device you use and the availability of WiFi. Kids don't like to talk on the phone anyway... they PREFER texting. We'll see.


I did want to add one thing. I would be curious about the ages of the parents of the kids who DO have cell phones early (not necessarily the ones with split families who use their phones to stay in contact with a non-custodial parent). The reason I mention it, is because for me (42) I can CLEARLY remember a time when cell phones didn't EXIST. We got by just fine without them. By the time my husband and I were married, they were becoming much more common, but still not a mandate that everyone had one. The younger generation (the 30 year olds, lol) basically grew up with them as part of their teen years. That group (and younger) don't even subscribe to a landline at home in lots of cases... So it'd be interesting to note the "generation" that the parents are from when discussing their views on cell phones for kids.


answers from Modesto on

texting is an addiction..... I have no idea when a good time to give them an addiction is.
pc use with constant monitoring is okay....
I'm just glad my kids are grown and dont have to deal with their faces stuck looking at a phone all day. They had gameboys when they were about 11 and 12 and that was pretty bad to me. I had to be strict with it otherwise that's all they would do.
It's crazy times. We are so SOCIAL yet in such a different manner.

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