Third Graders with Phones, Oh My.

Updated on August 20, 2013
R.M. asks from Evanston, IL
21 answers

A large number of third and fourth graders at my kids' school have their own cell phones already! One fourth grader I saw today had an iphone even... is this the norm??

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answers from Washington DC on

People who give their elementary aged kids an iPhone are simply asking for trouble. There is no reason an elementary aged kid needs access to the Internet, the ability to sext, or the responsibility of having such an expensive item to keep track of.
My kids were high school age before they got any phone and we still don't have iPhones. Those are just way too expensive for my budget.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Tucson on

My third grader has hos own cellphone.. He walks home from school and has numerous afterschool activities. I really don't think its a big deal. Makes me feel better.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Denver on

More and more, in our area, it's the norm. Honestly, like I've said in other posts, I see cellphones as tools to make our lives easier. Nothing more, nothing less. Not a privilege, not something they have to work towards, not a rite of passage, but simply a tool. My kids (15,12 and 10) all have phones. MY life has gotten easier because of it. If I had a 3rd or 4th grader, I'd probably get a phone for that child, too. A nice basic phone that could make calls and text.

Letting them have an iPhone is different issue, however.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i have been dragged into the 21st century on this issue.
for years i've been the 'we survived childhood with no phones, dagnabit, and so should kids today' old lady. but the world is changing, and cell phones are part of it. and since it's no longer acceptable for kids to head out to play all day without being under a parent's watchful eye, the only way ANY child will learn to survive without nestling under a wing is to sally forth with a cell phone.
i'm still not down with smartphones and data plans, though. don't even see why texting is necessary. surely a simple cellphone for emergencies can suffice for a kid in elementary school?
but then, i'm a neanderthal.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

My niece was in 3rd grade , my nephew in 5th grade. when their parents split. They were being picked up by different people some of the time.

Schedules changed. so the phone was the one way they could leave them a message or call to confirm the plans.

. Of course they did not carry their phones around all day. It stayed in their back packs, turned off. and if for some reason they were concerned or missed the other parent they were allowed to call them after school. .

They did not have iphones, but I do know that many teens have their parents old iphones, when the parents have moved up to the newest iphones.

If your children do not need a cell phone, no big deal, but it sure has come in handy so many times in our lives for our family members and many of our friends. to have them.. .

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

It is the norm where I am located. My oldest is 8 and doesn't have one, yet. But I will get him one soon. I wish we would have had them when I was younger - would have made my mother and I feel a lot safer when I was away from her. I intend for this phone purchase to do just that. Same idea with cell phones while driving in the car - I think back to when I was 16 and driving a car that could break down at any moment, no cell phone, 100lbs and alone. AHHHH!!

So yes, the norm, and imo nothing to worry about. SO LONG AS the children are taught proper phone etiquette, are not allowed to text in the following manner: "M. wat r u doin?", and use it according to strict rules implemented by the parents.

I think the shock comes from bad parenting (ie not implementing rules or restrictions with the phone) rather than the idea of the phone itself.

Technology is a great thing, when used properly. I intend to use it to our family's advantage. I know my oldest is responsible, so I am lucky there. Perhaps not every kid is ready for a phone at that age.

ETA: and I agree with Christy Lee - the world is NOT more dangerous than it was when we were kids. People have ALWAYS been crazy.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Yes, kids in those grades, may have phones already.
And yes, an iPhone already at only that age/grade.
They are too young for an iPhone/smart phone. My opinion. I don't care if they have it because they "inherited" their parent's old iPhone etc. They still to have a data plan etc.
They don't need it.
If they do need a phone, a regular basic non-internet phone is good enough. BECAUSE it is to call their parents. NOT for "social" interaction reasons, like adults use phones for.

My daughter is in middle school now. She is 10. She has a phone. A basic phone. No texting, no nothing. It can just make calls. To us.

In school, schools do NOT let the kids have the phones on, nor on them. It has to be kept, IN their backpack. For most schools, this is a rule. Some are even more strict than that. Not unusual.

The thing is: at these ages and even for Teens, phones are a SOCIAL apparatus. It is NOT just a phone to make calls. Kids use it, to play games/apps, text, go onto social sites like Instagram etc., use their phones to take photos etc. and they also give out their cell phone numbers, willly nilly. Kids also, make crank-calls to others. Even to other parents. I know this, because my daughter tells me. And I know 2 Moms that were getting crank-calls from kids and they recognized the kids' voices. Many kids, have NO discretion nor any common sense, about the use of their phones nor about the PRIVACY of their own phone numbers or others. Kids give out other kids' phone number to others too... even without permission and then other kids who they don't even know, ends up with their phone number.

Anyway, my daughter has a phone. A basic phone. Only to make calls. To contact us.
She is very responsible and mature for her age and asks permission to make calls and keeps her own phone number, private. She is NOT allowed, to give it out. Only if we give permission. And she adheres to our rules for it.

Yes, kids have phones. Of all sorts.
Whether or not they know how to use it wisely or not.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I don't know if it's a 'norm' so much as an 'it depends on the family' sort of thing.

We live on the outside edge of a very affluent neighborhood (ours is more working class) and a lot of kids get their parent's 'old' phones, even as young as seven. Is it a choice I would make as a parent? Hell, no. My son can have a smartphone when he is old enough to pay for the plan, so who knows when that will be. Otherwise, if he really needs a phone (say, when he's old enough to do things unattended like walk to/from school or attend afterschool programs and come home alone), then we would consider a pay-as-you-go plan. Those phones have been good enough for my husband and I for the past several years, I am certain they will do fine for Kiddo. Plus we have a laptop and a computer in the office-- we're set.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I think the only reason we are seeing more iPhones in the hands of younger kids is because they are being passed down. An iPhone isn't cheap and in the ever increasing push to have the latest, Apple has put out a new iPhone every years since it's debut.
People upgrade and that leaves a perfectly good phone worth several hundred dollars that needs to be put to use.
Our now teens got phones when they were 10. Our 7 yr old is asking for one, we told her 10 would be the magic number.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

My 2nd grader has my old phone, with no service. She tells people it is her phone.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I intend to get my kid a phone when he turns 10. It will be a basic calling/texting phone. There's already been times where I wish he had one, but 8/2nd grade seems way too young and my husband would have a cow. He gets dropped off at baseball practice while I run the other to soccer practice - wish he had a phone then (and other instances like that). Would I entertain the idea of iphone - probably an old one of mine. Mainly becase the older two already have itouches and it would just combine them into one device - which would still have the internet password protected. But, that most likely won't happen because I wouldn't want to pay for a data plan on them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Our school system does not allow grades K through 5 to have cell phones on school property at all.
Grades 6 through 12 can have them but they must be powered down and in a locker and not used during school hours.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I agree ith Christy Lee 100%! I do see some 5th and 6th graders with phones. I don't believe it is necessary. Now if the kids ride the city bus to and from school, I can see where the parent might want the child to have a phone, but most parents are dropping off and picking up from school so really why does a child need a phone during school hours. Just something else to be lost, broken or taken away, IMHO.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

Not in Canada, thankfully!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think they are wonderful tools of communication, BUT, they are powerful tools too! Children should be taught "responsible phone skills" (even if they don't have cell phones).

Beyond that, I think access to a cell phone can help in navigating multiple busy schedules, if anyone is running late etc. But if parents can handle that stuff without giving the children access to phones, then no need for them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Certainly seems so around here.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

Not the norm at all around here.

My boys are 10 and 12. I kick them outside all day long, let them come home after school, and drop them off at practices without a phone. They just don't need it. The world is NOT more dangerous than it was when we were kids....parents are just more paranoid due to excessive media coverage.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

My kid, almost in third grade, is thrilled to play with a baby pretend phone. So um, yeah, we totally don't have them. I don't even have one!

But the child knows kids out there do, and even the pretend phone is tempting simply because it seems like a real one, in some ways.

I don't think kids or teens need to socialize on phones. Maybe a quick call (landline) to the house to ask "Can you play?" That's what kids used to do. Then they go and play.


answers from Lansing on

Not too common around us. But i have seen some younger ones have them.

Not sure what the magic number will be but my daughters been asking for one for a couple years now and she is going into 3rd grade. Its calmed down quite a bit since she got and ipod. She is able to use an app that allows her to make phone calls on wifi. This seems to satisfy her for now.

Really, she has no need for a phone yet and I'm not sure when that need will come but I predict not until after elementary school for sure.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Yes. My granddaughter is in 4th grade and she's the only one in her class that doesn't have a smart phone. Kids are not like we were as kids. The way we communicate and socialize is changing and we have to decide how we're going to accept and use the technology today.

We told her we'd talk about her having a cell phone at age 10. She has to earn having one though, she has to take care of her animals and her room to show us she is ready to be responsible for a phone.

She has had a google tablet for over a year and taken care of it well.


answers from Jacksonville on

I wouldn't say it is "the norm" but it certainly isn't unheard of, either.
My kids are 12 and 15 and neither of them has a phone. They would like one, but they know they aren't getting one b/c I am not paying an ongoing bill for something like that that they do not need. (NEED)

They actually mock the younger kids who have such items, because they have learned to recognize the ridiculousness of much of it. Yes, some kids have cell phones due to split families and they sort of "need" them to communicate with the parent they are not with at the time, especially if the parents aren't communicating with each other well. But most of the time, a "smartphone with data package" is not needed for that... but they'll have that, too. Whatever... it is their money, not mine (I hope).

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