How Old Does a Child Need to Be to Have Their Own Cell Phone?

Updated on July 18, 2008
D.R. asks from Austin, TX
5 answers

Hi moms out there! I'm getting my 12 year old son a cell phone. He will be in middle school next year.
Do you all have any advice for me? Is this too young? D.

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answers from Austin on

I don't see a reason for a child to have a cell phone unless they are going places without you a lot.

My oldest is 16, I just got him his first cell phone a few months because he'd become more social which meant I had to call his friends cell phones to get ahold of him and they didn't always answer.

We started with a Virgin Mobile pay as you go phone, we put $20 on it a month for 200 minutes. Not alot but its taught him to be careful with is minutes. I also logged onto his online account and blocked all text messages so he couldn't run those up. As long as you reload it with minutes every 30 days the remaining minutes roll over each month.

Good luck.

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answers from Austin on

12 is too young for a cell phone! It is very hard to keep track of minutes (=$$$$$) used chatting/texting with friends and, since the phone will put him in the "elite" status, it will end up being loaned to others (especially at extracurricular events). (more $$$$$$$$$$$)
Another thing to consider is that the phones are against the policy of most schools. AISD requires that the phones be turned off and kept put away during school hours. (Failure to comply will result with the cell phone being confiscated.) Put them in a backpack, something hits the dial button and eventually there's a phone call made of unbelievable duration because the child doesn't know it happened. When my son was 14, he earned the money and bought himself a prepaid phone (because we wouldn't). On two different occasions, the house was dialed, the answering machine picked up and his entire class was recorded in muffled tones. Not only did it use up his precious minutes, it filled up our answering machine.
If you absolutely have to buy him a phone, go with Criket or someone else that gives unlimited talk/text for a flat rate so you don't end up in bankruptcy over a cell phone bill.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I think it totally depends on the kid and your circumstances. I was able to add my child onto my plan for $10 more a month. She visits her dad on occaision and he doesn't have a cell phone and at times doesn't even have a home phone so for me it was for peace of mind. I also think she feels safer knowing she can call me anytime. I also can activate a GPS link (big brother is watching!) that tells me where she is. This is comforting to me so for me it was well worth it. There are rules on phone usage and she sticks by them, she's very mature about it in fact. She's also very careful with the phone because she knows if she breaks or loses it, she doesn't get another one. So go with your gut and the individual needs of your family and child.

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answers from Austin on

Hi D.!

I have a 16 year old and she was about 12 when we gave her a cell phone. It was nice being able to get in touch with her whenever we needed, where ever she was. On the other hand it became a necessity with her. She started to demand that she have one when we would take it away(It was like pulling her arm off)when she would get grounded from it due to various reasons.
She now pays for her own phone and this seems to work a lot better.
My point is, maybe have him do chores to pay for it and be sure to make up a list of rules before you get it.

I do think it is a good idea for kids to have them at this age, they want to be independent, but it's nice to know that you are a phone call away!

Take care and good luck!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

HI D.,
We got our son a cell phone this year when he turned 12 and we gave him texting. He went over his texting minuits (8,000.00) was his limit and he went over and our bill was 300.00 for just texting. He promised to keep better track and wouldn't do it again and the next bill was 400.00 over. Needless to say he doesn't have texting anymore. He keeps begging for us to just get unlimited then we wouldn't have the overage problem but we refuse to because he would text under his covers at night till late, text at the dinner table, text while watching tv, text at all times in the car. Texting has become an epidemic and our son was not the only one affected every mom I have talked to has had the same problem.
Having a phone so you and his friends can communicate with him and its nice to be able to get in touch with him. "BUT DON'T GET TEXTING" he won't ever listen to you or have a regular conversation again.
Trust me

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