Phones for 13 Year Olds

Updated on June 17, 2013
K.P. asks from Fairfax Station, VA
19 answers

My daughter is 13 and she wants an iphone. She is a good kid straight A student but only has 100 bucks. She asked me if she could give me the money and do extra chores around the house to get one. I told her ill think about it but am not sure. Does anyone have past experence on teens ant phones? Thank you, K.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers


answers from Dallas on

I don't see a need for kids to have smart phones. My son is also a good kid who is a straight A student. He is 15; he doesn't have a smart phone. Smart phones are distractions that are added expenses.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think a phone for a 13 year old is fine, but certainly not an iPhone. With an iPhone, they have access to the Internet and you have zero control. My kids - both college age - have phones with text. No data plan. No Internet access. Realistically, it's too expensive for us to afford the data plan. When they graduate from school, get jobs, and pay their own bills, then they can decide if they want to pay for the data plan.
Just my 2 cents...

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Honolulu on

My daughter just finished 5th grade.
This is what I have personally seen per kids and phones: (I also work at my kids' school).
They text. Even unknown to the parents. Even good kids. Texting can range in appropriateness or inappropriateness. Therefore, some of the parents I know, only get basic phones for their Pre-Teens/Teens. Texting and phone cameras, is where, kids get in trouble or create, inappropriate scenarios. Or even cyber bullying.
They also, give out their phone numbers willy-nilly. Hence, kids even get a hold of parents... phone numbers too. And I have known some parents that got crank calls, from kids. Kids, give out phone numbers. Theirs and others. And they have NO discretion about it.

Hence again, some parents I know, only get BASIC phones for their kids. Phones that can only make, calls. Not texting/camera phones.
I have even, seen a couple of kids, that texted... a parent. For no particular reason. Their Mom, did not even know, this. And one Mom didn't even know, how her child, got another parent's phone... number. To then, text that parent. And the parent that the kid had texted... was to the Dad.....
All kinds of scenarios, occurs.
Beyond what "we" think.

I saw one kid recently, tell another kid "can I have your Mom's phone number?" And the other kid said "Okay, here...." and gave that kid her Mom's phone number. AT NO TIME, did the kid say "no" or "why do you need it?" nothing was said. The kid simply said "okay" and gave the other kid her Mom's phone number, with NO thought about it. And they aren't even best friends or anything.
This was a middle school kid. A kid I know. I was there when it happened while I was waiting in line for something. I later told the Mom, what her kid did. The Mom did not appreciate her phone number, being given out. She thought her kid, knew better. But obviously, not. And this kid is a "good" kid. Very good kid. Still, the kid had NO DISCRETION AT ALL.

Personally, I see no reason why a kid, needs an iPhone or Galaxy.
I see many Pre-teens/Teens with these phones.
These phones also cost more, and per the data plans for it etc.
So those are other things to think about.
It is not only, the cost of the phone itself.

Phones are also "entertainment" for kids.
I have seen myself, some kids at a McDonald's... taking photos of themselves, and then sending it to another group of friends in, the McDonald's they were in. These were, a group of girls, and then a group of boys. And they were giggling. I saw one girl, take a photo of herself, with her phone camera... under her dress. And then one of the boy's laughing. Then, one "Grandpa" aged man, who seemed to know one of them... went up to them, and "scolded" them. Everyone was looking at them. It was, not private at all.

Again, phones are entertainment... for kids. MANY kids have NO DISCRETION AT ALL... about its use. And yes, even 10 year olds, are on Instagram. If you don't know what this is, then better for the kids who, do it. MANY of my daughter's classmates, who were in 5th grade, signed themselves up, on it. AND, THEIR PARENTS DID NOT KNOW. They brag, about how their parents do not know. My daughter, tells me this. This is what she knows, of her classmates and their phone... activity. And she sees, it.
And yes, even "straight A" kids.... do things, via their phone.
It doesn't matter what grades they get or not.
Phone use, is very tempting for kids and they do NOT have discretion. Even many adults, do not.

And of course, there needs to be rules, on the phone they use. But again, not all kids do, adhere to their parent's rules, for their, phone.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Here is my rules about phones. I have 3 adult children and an 11 year old. My older 3 never got a phone until they were in high school activities where they were leaving on busses (such as in band going to games). Back then, there weren't smart phones, so smart verses normal wasn't part of the equation. My 11 year old is a different story. We got rid of our land line several years ago. Because of changes in circumstances, our 11 year old is by himself for several hours at a time, so we felt he needed access to a phone. We got him a non-smart phone. (is that a dumb phone?). Anyway. Our hard and fast rule, because of having older kids and learning the hard way - is that from the very beginning, all electronics come out of bedrooms at a predetermined time, and get plugged in for charging in OUR room. No matter how good the kid, the phone is too big of a draw for them to not be on it at all hours of the night. Other kids do not respect your family rules. You MUST be on top of it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on


I'm not a mom of a teen, but like SH, I am in my son's school and see phones being misused regularly. Re-read her post if you will.

What I have heard/seen:

A 13 year old child, a GREAT kid, whom I used to care for, got into some big trouble. She and another friend decided it would be 'fun' to scare a classmate with "I'm stalking you" sorts of messages when that teen was home alone.The kid on the receiving end didn't recognize the phone number (and there were several kids in on this) and was petrified. K., these 'good kids' were threatening to 'get her', to break into her house and attack her. Before it was resolved, the police had been called. What the kids thought was a harmless prank had reduced another kid to tears and the parents had to end their evening and come home. The police were contacting the other families and that's not something parents want to deal with. Making phone threats is not of the same caliber of mischief as tp-ing a house. Needless to say, that kid's phone was revoked.

Consider, too, how cyber-bullying has contributed to teen suicide. This, from Cyberbully Hotline:
"42% of teenagers with tech access report being cyberbullied over the past year"
"81% of teens say bullying online is easier to get away with"
and the impact:
"3 million kids per month are absent from school due to bullying"

One very significant reason to be cautious. This isn't an isolated 'only bad kids do this' sort of thing. Good kids get sucked in, feeling anonymous and therefore that their actions have no consequences.

At the school, I volunteer in the library during a media class where computers, iPads and phones are allowed. It's appalling to hear the teacher remind the kids that their assignments are due and to see the kids with phones just sitting around, sitting next to each other and texting each other, not talking. It's creepy, frankly. When I work on the computers near them, I overhear conversations wherein the girls describe themselves as taunting and teasing (verbally, sexually) older guys or engaging them by calling them 'losers', which is just as dangerous. And I am pretty sure most of the parents of those kids would consider them good kids-- but they aren't the ones knocking themselves out in class, doing the work and checking in with the teacher as to how their projects/assignments are progressing. It gives me pause as a parent to consider what sort of devices my son will need in middle school. I think the computer lab is sufficient, personally.

My son will be one of the kids who gets a pre-paid phone plan when we see a need. If he wants a smartphone, he can work for one and pay the plan in full, WITH my parental controls on it. When he graduates and can pay his way in the world to do as he pleases, he may do just that. Until then, I am not going to pay for a big distraction to *real life* and a valuable education while he's still in school. Just my two cents, but after working in the library during the middle school classes, I feel like my initial inclinations to wait until my son is more mature are confirmed daily. :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

She doesn't need an iPhone at 13, even being a straight A student/good kid. And $100 won't cover the on-going monthly charges. Read S.H.'s and others advice. Get a pay-as-you-go phone with calling and texting, she can use the Internet, send pictures, and listen to music at home, K. :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I got my kids a phone about that age. I needed more info with their extra curricular activities. They didn't have a smart phone till at least senior year. they dropped phones, they left them places. One time my kid had to change clothes for a play and left it in there. Someone stole the money he had but left the phone because it would not have gotten any money for it!
They had complete texting. They could have used the Internet at times because of waiting for band concerts or doing homework on a bus.

You can choose what to do now. It would be more difficult if you get a iPhone and don't like whats being done with it. It is a concern even with my straight A kids.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Short answer - no. It's not just 100, it's the monthly internet access. I'm not sure you can get it just as a "phone", and what's the point of getting one if it's just going to be a phone? If she wants to get a phone, get her a pay as you go that has no internet access where you can control who she talks to. She doesn't need a phone for social purposes, she needs one for emergencies. And she certainly doesn't need to be texting. When she's old enough to pay her own bills, she can have an adult phone.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Cell phones are not allowed in elementary school at all - they have no place to keep them where they could not be stolen.
For middle and high school, our school system bans cell phone use on school property.
They can take a phone with them for after school use, but during the day it must be powered off and stay in their locker.
Anyone caught with a powered up phone (even just to check the time) will have the phone confiscated, have some detention and the parent has to pick the phone up from the principal in person.

For smart phones, it's not just the cost of the phone itself, but the cost of the data plan too, and the cost of what ever apps / games she wants on it.
It adds up in a hurry.
A basic phone for emergencies and maybe a little texting is more than adequate for a first phone.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

If you have an Iphone adding another line is not that much, but to have just one plan is a lot, so unless you have a plan you are adding her too I would skip the Iphone. My son has one, but it is only $25 a month for his line since it is added on to the plan I already have for myself.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

I would not get a 13 year old an iphone. They don't need it, nor do they need such unlimited access to the internet. An ipod would be better, they can only access where internet is available, and you would have more control. If she really wants a phone go with something basic. Talk and text and nothing else.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Iphones are not good starter phones. Heck adults that I know that have iphones tend to drop them way too many times.
And these are people with money..

I suggest you give her back the $100. and see if your phone carrier will give you a free phone or an inexpensive good phone.

I have a Droid, it was free and it is great. Takes great photos..

Your daughter really only needs to be able to call and text.

Cell phones for kids these days are so that parents can get in touch with them and kids can get in touch with their parents. We gave our daughter her first cell phone when she was going into middle school, because of all of the after school activities, and changes in plans due to studying, practices and meetings. They usually do not have payphones at schools. And some parents do not allow their children to let others use their phones. Never depend on others to allow your child to borrow their phones. It just does not always happen.

The texting you allow her to use can be limited.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New Orleans on

My son did not get a smart phone until he was 16. Before that he had a texting phone and I added a family text package to my phone plan. His Smart phones have cost next to nothing for the equipment - upgrades/specials kept that cost down - but there is the monthly data plan expense - much higher than a regular phone.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

An iPhone needs a data plan. If she has never had a phone before, I suggest you try out a pay as you go phone with basic, basic services first. My SS got it at 13 or 14 because he was doing afterschool activities. My SD got hers at 10. Take a guess how many phones she's been through since? She is a "good kid" but destructive and careless. I would ask your DD why she thinks she needs an iphone.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I know it is less expensive in the US than it is in Canada, but even if she had the cash to purchase an iphone it still costs money each month to use it. Here a data plan is something like $70 a month! She is 13, does she have a steady job so that she can pay a monthly bill? What does she need a cell phone for? Do you not have a home phone? Does she not have access to a telephone wherever she goes? I know my son has access to a telephone most everywhere he goes (school, church, library, YMCA, community club), or he is close enough to home to come home and use the phone if he needs to. I would get her an ipod Touch. She will be able to face time and text with her friends as long as she has access to wifi (and there is wifi access pretty near everywhere kids go), she can play games, watch videos, listen to music etc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My 13 year old has an iphone. We have a family plan. She pays us $15.00 per month from her allowance and chores which goes to the protection plan on the phone. As far as safety, please re-read S.H.'s and Rocio's posts. It IS reality. We've run into many of these issues.

The good thing about iphone is that it is SUPER easy to apply settings with a password that block out the camera, Instagram, Facetime, Snapchat, internet browser, etc. We now turn on the camera only during family trips or other times briefly when we are with our DD. She no longer has it to use unsupervised, at school, or when she just with her friends. Believe me, though this makes me the most unpopular parent in the world, I'm probably never going to allow SnapChat and Instagram again. Completely unnecessary. Today's teens do not see sexual innuendo in pictures as being as inappropriate. They think it is funny, and harmless. Remember their brains are not developed. I also love having Verizon service, because I can easily see a timely record of every text she sends or receives, so I can check up on who she is communicating with. If I see a number not recognized from her contact list, my radar is on, and I look into it. I use the block feature for people she has had problems with. She hasn't always told me about harassment in the past because she was afraid I would take her phone away. I DO want her to be in contact with her friends, but close monitoring is essential. MANY people will pretend to be who they are not by texting, and teens are way too naïve. More than once we've discovered our DD returning contact with people she had never met in real life. Said they were friends of a friend. Very convincing, but not true at all and very frightening. Don't wait until you have a problem. Start careful monitoring from day one.

At least iphone and Verizon make it easy to do this if you use the features in place. We've had cheaper phones and plans, but to me it's worth it for the features.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Reno on

My daughter (14 in Sept.) has had a phone since she was about 12. We wanted her to have it because it has GPS on it, and she can call us or 911 in case of emergencies. She has a Samsung Boost Mobile ($100-$150). It has unlimited text, calling and web and you buy a card each month to keep it active. We like it because if she's out and about with friends, we can see where she is and at what time. Just be sure she keeps it fully charged and on, so you can get in contact with her and she with you. I think it's important in this day and age. My daughter texted from her cell phone one night (about 1:30 a.m.) at a friend's house letting us know that there were police and gang members at the apt. complex and she wanted to be picked up... I was so thankful that she had her phone!!!

So, I all for it, but teach her responsibility and if it gets to a point where she's on it when she shouldn't be, just turn it off and put it away til she actually needs it. Easy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My daughter has had the IPhone since they first came out. She is 18 and has the 5 now. Hubby and I carry the IPhone as well.

That said, we pay for it because it goes through our company and she does do work for me and is on my payroll. I pay roughly $230 a month for all 3 phones, unlimited data and text, and international usage.

IF you get an IPhone, it will at some point or another get dropped, lost, wet, etc. The insurance plan came in handy for us a couple of times and she ended up with a new phone. I think we paid $70 for the insurance deal.

At 13, she did not have the full data and texting plan she has now. I didn't see the need for that. The primary purpose was for her to be able to reach me asap if needed and to check in because she was in cheer and other activities and sometimes needed me to run to the school to pick her up, etc.

IPhones are pricey and you have to weigh out the need vs want factor. if you want her to have a phone for safety, IPhone is good as well as some other cell phones on the market that do not have all the bells and whistles.

Good luck!

For the record.... iPhones are not crappy pieces of electronics. You get haters just like you do with popular brands of computers,appliances, etc. example... I hate Maytag because I had lemon washer/dryer/ fridge/ dishwasher!!

I can run my company on my IPhone and we are not talking small numbers!


answers from Los Angeles on

My nephew has had 2 and has broke both screens on his iPhones by dropping it.

I believe the iPhone 5 has a sturdier screen made out of stronger material, just FYI.

~This is a hard one...she is a straight A student, so I would probably allow her to get it, even though they are so expensive!

I love mine...and totally think its worth the $$$!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions