Young Child Having a Cell Phone?

Updated on April 11, 2012
M.. asks from Detroit, MI
27 answers

Electronic question got me thinking.
My daughter is only 7, which I agree is too young for a phone. But, I was thinking about getting her one in a couple years. We do not have a home phone and she would have her own phone that she knew how to use for safety reasons.
She would have all of her emergency contacts in it. It would have texting, but I know our phone company can make it to where she can only text certain people, as in emergency contacts.
This would be for safety reasons for my child.
I do not understand why people get so outraged about children having phones. It will cost us $10 extra a month to add a line, and I have an old cell phone that she can use, so I wouldnt even be buying a new one.
Why do people get so upset about a kid having a cell phone, but its ok to have $265 ipods? Which, I dont even have because its too expensive.
She is a responsible kid, and if Lord forbid she lost it, I wouldnt be out much $$.


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answers from Chicago on

My son who is 10 has a cel phone. It's my old phone and I gave it to him when he started to go out to the playground or walking around the neighborhood without me. He's responsible about it. It's a pay-as-you go phone by Virgin and it costs me about $7.00 per months to have it. He is really responsible with the phone. He doesn't make any phone calls other than calling me. He always calls me when he goes from the playground to one of his friends house. He calls me when he is on his way home. And I can call him when I need him to come home for dinner, etc.
I really don't see a reason why I wouldn't make use of technology that is clearly a great way to give a kid some independence but still being able to reach him if I need to.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Saginaw on

In my opinion, anyone that doesn't have a home phone, and has children, needs to have a cell phone for their kids. For safety reasons.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

When my daughter first talked about getting her son a cell phone, I thought it was ridiculous. However, it has proven to be a good thing. We can reach him at all times and better yet, he can reach us. He takes a public bus to school so his mom felt it was important for him to have the phone. My first thought was we never had phones and we did just fine. Well, I still don't have a cell phone and have discovered that there are literally no more pay phones out there so if you don't have a cell phone you are literally incommunicado!

So, I've revised my thinking and now agree that in some instances it is good for a kid to have a cell phone. They just have to have strict rules about when and where to use it and who they can contact.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Austin on

Used to be your mom gave you a few quarters in case of emergency you could use a pay phone.. These are few and far between today and so if your child needs to get in touch with you.. they need to search for a phone..

And if a parent needs to get a hold of their child, they are dependent on someone with their child to relay the message.

With a cell phone.. the parent can leave a message or a text to the child.

Some children are never without an adult around or the schedules do not change. They will not need a cell phone.

But for some families.. The child needs a phone to be able to contact a parent about their schedule changes.. Or the parent needs to be able to contact the child about changes.

Rules and safety features are available. No texting.. or only able to text certain people.

The phone must be off or on silent ALL through the school day.

The phone is never to be loaned to anyone.

Hard to judge the needs of others.. Only they know what will work for them.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

We got our daughter a cell phone when she was 8. We added a line to our plan for an extra $10 a month. The reason we did it is because we found more and more often, if she went to a friends house after school or for a sleepover, a lot of times those friends no longer had land lines. I would be given mom or dads cell number to get a hold of her. That always made me uncomfortable. I would call moms number to talk to my daughter and would get, "she is at the house with my husband, I am at Walmart". We finally decided that $10 was worth the peace of mind knowing that no matter where she was, we could reach her. I have never regreted it. She is now 12 and we have never had any issues with her losing it. I guess it would depend on the child but, I think land lines are becoming a thing of the past.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I don't understand it either, but people really do get heated about this subject. I think they're a little behind-the-times.

We got our younger daughter a cell phone when she was about 8. Her dad didn't have a home phone and it was always difficult for me to reach her when she was with him for the weekend. So we figured it would just be easier for her to have one. And it has been easier!

My older daughter (now 23) didn't get a cell until high school because she didn't need one as we weren't divorced at that time. But when she was driving of course we made sure she had one.

Do what is right for your child/family. I'll bet 20 years from now it's very common, as will be e-readers, ipads and things like that for kids. I would be happy if we did away with all the heavy textbooks and had kids haul around one little Nook. Someday.....

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think it's mostly people passing judgement on what they think kids really need or *should* have. Every situation (and budget) is different and I think it's up to individual parents to decide what's best for their families.
In our family the kids got a phone when they started middle school. That's when they started taking the bus to the other side of town, and they had a bit more freedom after school (going home with friends, going to the library or out for ice cream, etc.) I wanted to be able to contact them (and vice versa) so it was a win-win for all of us :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Yeah, my kids have had cell phones from a young age. The oldest got his first in 7th grade, the youngest got her first in 3rd grade.

Overall, they have saved the day WAY more then they've caused problems.

But then they're good kids. Great students, no trouble, no attitude, no entitlement.

I suppose if they sucked, I might've thought twice.

As far as the expense goes. When I was a young adult in the 80s my HOME PHONE bill was higher because of long distance charges from calling my sisters who lived far away.

My cell bill, for 4 phones with unlimited everything, including text and data, is about $220 a month. Cheaper then what I paid all those years ago, interesting huh?

So do what's right for you. Allow the naysayers THEIR POV, and stay true to yourself.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I don't understand it either. If you are going to let your kid have an ipod that is that much you might as well let them have a phone that cost less than that. And if you don't have a home phone it is even more understandable to have one young. My oldest was 10 when he got is first phone and my youngest was 9.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

My son's 9... And he's had a phone since he was 5.

It's no big thing, possibly because he's had a phone for years. Really. It's no more exciting than a house phone, or TV, or stereo. It's just normal.

It's $10 a month for his phone (which he pays now out of his allowance). He has an iPhone 3GS, and it cost us a whole whopping... DOLLAR. The parental controls are awesome, the GPS decent, and it's also his:
- iPod
- calendar
- alarm clock
- kindle reader (free app)
- everyday camera/video
- voice recorder
- etc.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think the concern for some parents, me included, is that controls need to be put in place. My daughter's 6 and so certainly doesn't have a cell phone, but if we reach an appropriate age where we agree to one, it will not have a text/photo/ or internet package. It will also have only a limited amount of pre-programmed numbers that she'll be able to dial, which would basically just be my husband and I and a few relatives. I'll also say that at this point I'm still concerned about the EMF transmissions from cell phones. I know that the jury is still out, but frankly, I just don't trust the govt. and lobbyists claims that they are entirely safe for children's still developing brains.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Just before my son's 8th birthday, he got a cell phone. His father lives out of state and it allows all of his father's side of the family to call him and he can call them. It came in very handy when he was taking music lessons. The teacher would occassionally end class 20+ mins early so he could call me to pick him up.

I do know some kids that are not involved in any extracurriculars and only go from home to school that have cell phones. That perplexes me, but to each his own.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think you have to decide what your situation is and "how much" phone you want your daughter to have.

We likely won't get our son a cell phone until he can pay for it. This is because A. we have a landline and B. his school is a ten-minute walk away.

I grew up mostly walking to and from school--mostly alone--(or taking the bus) and coming home to an empty house. I'd call mom when I got home. I wasn't to call her again at work unless my siblings didn't arrive home or the house was burning down. This is the opposite of how we raise our children now, with constant checking in.

I also think it's good for older kids to have situations where they need to make decisions for themselves. It's good for them to learn how to ask other adults for help when necessary. It taught me to take "common sense" chances when I needed help. I had opportunities to learn that the world is not a scary place, but that many people more or less do want to help each other out. I was never hurt or scarred emotionally because of those interactions or situations.

Statistically, the world isn't any more dangerous than it was back in the day. Too much phone and helicopter parenting makes for kids who literally can't think for themselves as adults.

But it is situational. If you choose not to get a landline, get a phone which has the features/limitations that you want. Talk to her about using it responsibly.

Personally, what I get upset about when I see younger people with phones is more that the phone becomes a way to disconnect from one's immediate surroundings. The more gadgets (games, internet, texting) there are on the phone, the more kids --and adults-- get sucked into them instead of being present. I've seen a frightening increase in adults handing over their phones to increasingly younger children to play with, usually to entertain the child or get them out of the parent's hair. I think kids miss out on their parents and on their real, physical world when we make this a habit.

And Molly, if you think your daughter needs it, what you propose sounds very reasonable.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Huntington on

My issues w/ kids having phones are when the parents buy new expensive phones, allow unlimited texting, picture messaging and minutes. I TOTALL agree that in this day and age older kids 13-14 should have phones WITH RESTRICTIONS. The phone leaves the house w/ them if they are going to an event, friends house, the mall. No picture messages, and NO unlimited texting.

I watch my teen sons friends do nothing but sit and stare and text on their phones all the time. Constantly. I hear of kids getting racy picture messages sent to them etc. It's ridiculous. My 3 teen neices (15,14,&12) JUST got a phone, ONE to share when they are out of the house. No texting, no calling friends all evening long (they have a land line) They also are not allowed facebook accounts, I-pads or their own lap tops. They are monitored very closely and THATS the way is should be. Electronics have become the new age babysitter/entertainer of our pre-teens and teens. Its crazy. Its all about being a vigilant responsible and aware parent when we give them these luxuries.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I have no issue with kids having phones if they truly need them but I don't see any elementary aged kid really needing one -- unless there are certain activities the kid does that place him or her in locations where the child may have no phone access and no adult supervising nearby.

I think the question is, what does the child (any child, not just yours) do that places the child in situations where he or she might need access to a phone and wouldn't have that otherwise? Is the child doing activities or in places where he or she cannot get to a phone? If so, then I'd say yes to a phone, but if not, there is not a need, and it opens up a lot of opportunity for the child to misuse the phone or lose it, or for the phone to be stolen.

My daughter is 11 and very responsible but has no need for her own phone. She is in school all day and student phones are forbidden there, and if I'm needed, the school will call. She doesn't take the school bus to and from school (I drive her) so I don't need a call from her saying she is getting off the bus and walking home or whatever. She doesn't ask to go to other kids' houses on the spur of the moment -- any play dates are arranged in advance, not between kids at school for that same afternoon -- so she doesn't need to call to ask "Can I go to Jane's today straight from school?" I drive her to her dance classes (her main activity outside school). When she's at dance, if I'm needed and not there, the dance studio will reach me on my cell. If she's at a friend's I'm the one who drives her or walks with her there, so she doesn't need to call to say she arrived. And I don't have an issue (as another poster said she did) with friends' families having no land lines.

So it's really about the kid's schedule and level of time alone in places without phone access. If a child rides the bus to school and might need to call a working parent to say "I'm getting off the bus and walking home and will be there in 10 minutes," I absolutely see the need for the phone. Or if the child has activities that involve other parents driving groups of kids places in carpools (away games for teams, field trips where you don't kow the parent chaperones, etc.), I can see the child having a phone then too. Or if a child's family and friends' families are OK with kids casually calling after school to say, "Is it OK for me to go home with Jane today and stay until 5?" etc., then yes, a phone would be important. But if none of that is happening, I don't see the need for a phone for safety. I know that controls can be put on, which is terrific, and I do foresee getting my daughter a very limited phone in middle school or high school.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I think it really depends on the kids and the situations. With my step children, they got their own cell phones when they were going to be with someone other than Dad, me or Grandma, and we could all get in touch with each other if needed. If your daughter is involved in after school activities, or spends a lot of time with friends, it could definately be beneficial for her to have her own phone so she can get ahold of you in case of an emergency, or even to let you know when she needs a ride/pick-up.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

For some reason I think people's minds jump to smart phones. That is a bit much for a child.

My kids will be 11 and 13 this summer so I am getting them phones. I am more worried they will lose them at their dad's house than over at friends. :p

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I don't give young children iPods, either, nor do I think a small child needs a gadget that costs that much.

My SD was 10. It was a glorified toy. She broke or lost many cell phones over the years.

My SS was 13 and in afterschool activities. I think 13 is a much better age.

Having children in the house is why we keep a landline. I want them to dial 911 and get help vs the help having to guess where we live. At 7, SD was nowhere for long without an adult. She got dropped off to daycare, went to school, got picked up by an adult or rode the bus to a friend's house. She didn't need it, and she didn't need it at 10. Had it been MY money, she would have gotten one in late middle school and no sooner.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My daughter will be 9 in June, but she got her first cell phone in November 2009. She is a dancer and had to go into a building where the parents were not allowed - they charged rent based on how many people were there. We turned on my husband's old phone - the same one she is still using - and it works fine. Like you, it is the $10 a month charge and I like her having one. My boys will get one when they need one also.

My kids also have their own desktops, my daughter has a laptop, they all have Kindle Fires, etc.

They also LOVE to play outside and are all active in sports - plus are great with imagination.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Where we live it is the norm to get your kid a cell phone in either middle school (7th, 8th grade) or high school. I just don't think they really need one before that. Our son is either at school or riding the bus home...then I drive him to activities. He's never on his own. If a family member wants to call him they can call my husband or my cell phone and ask for him. He really has no need for one. Maybe high school when he gets rides from friends and needs to tell me where he is going or needs me to pick him up from somewhere. I just don't see how it is necessary.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

If my kids needed it, I would have it for them. But my kids are not involved in sports or many activities, they are not home alone often and in an emergency, they can call from our home phone. But I do agree that when it is for safety, then a cell is not an issue for a child. I thinkthe main reason people get upset is when you see a 5 or 6 yr old on the phone all the time. My daughter had a friend, if you can call her that, that was ALWAYS on her phone. No exaggeration at all. She was always texting or calling, never put that thing down. She would complain that my daughter did not have one too. She doesn't need one yet. I think it has a lot to do with social interraction as well. My daughter does have an Ipod that she saved up for herself. She never puts the thing down. I actually have to take it away from her sometimes. No one talks face to face anymore and kids don't play. Kind of the same with video games and such in today's techy world. Growing up way too fast

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

My kids are ages 5 and 2, and aren't away from me, so they don't need a phone yet. My older son DOES know our home number, and he knows to dial "2" on my phone to get his dad, or "2" on his dad's phone to get me, and how to dial 911 from a home or cell phone, and what to say. If I was working and he was away from me, I would have no problem with him having his own phone. If I was divorced and he had shared custody, I would insist that he have his own phone. If he was spending the night at a friend's house or at my dad's house, I would insist he have his own phone. There's plenty of reasons that I can see where a child could use a phone. Someone who'd get bent out of shape about someone else's child owning a phone is silly. There's a lot more to worry about than that...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Madison on

Well I live just fine without a cell phone...don't see why teens can't live without one, I am 27 years old so don't go thinking I am an old woman who isn't involved with technology.

I can see having an extra phone added on to your plan to make into a "house phone"

Think about it most adults now days don't even use a cell phone properly, addiction to texting, sexting, all sorts of other issues!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

Busymom you took the words right out of my mouth lol! I am also 27 and don't have a cell phone. If my son or daughter want one (a non issue right now since they are 2.5yrs and 2mnths) they can wait intill they can buy one themselves. I had my first cell when I was 18 and lived 16 hrs away from home, it was cheaper then paying for a long distance plan. I got rid of it when I became a stay at home mom.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Well everybody in my house is EXTREMELY techinical. My husband buys new game systems, and games all the time, we both have the new EVOS, both my kids (3 and 4) have a DSi, and Ipods (the ipds were ours, but they used them more than us so we just gave them to them and my husband got a new one with a camera) alot of this junk we dont need, but We have. So i wasnt surprised when my 4yo asked for a phone, but I think 9 or 10 is a good age to start, unless one of their activities makes for them to have one earlier, but no sooner then 7. As long as you set limits, and they are not on it all day long, i dont see an issue. but, I am on mine all day.. YIKES!!
It wont hurt them, My 4yo is way more technically advanced then my mom, my mom just bought a new touch screen and kept complaining, my baby showed her how to use it// im just saying. We live in a world where everything is run by technology, thats just the way it is...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I have told my granddaughter we will talk about her getting aphone of her own once she is 10.

It sounded like a nice round number.

I think she would constantly be losing it or breaking it. She would not be happy with a plain one, she would want a smart phone for sure. I can imagine it getting stepped on or tossed in the trash accidentally.

If she grows in maturity and becomes a person who has shown she is mature enough to have a smart phone then we might get her one sooner. She does not know that though. She needs to grow and decide to be responsible first on her own.


answers from Phoenix on

I can only respond as to what we have done...

Our oldest will be turning 9 next week... we got her a phone back in October. Actually, I got her the phone... and mainly for my sanity. I run a business from my iPhone... so when she was talking to her friends or texting her friends, she would hand the phone back to me. 3 days in a row, my phone was down to less than 10% battery charge... and then I would get a phone call from a customer and think to myself "am I going to lose this call?" And yeah, we have a house phone... but we are very rarely home... literally. 3 kids, hubby, there is a function every night between school stuff, karate, Girl Scouts, my business... So now my oldest has an iPhone (hubby and I have iPhones, so it just makes it easy to charge- and I know how it works)... she knows I check her texts, and if an unknown number calls her phone she tells me. She FaceTimes with her friends who have iPods, she texts her friends and she calls her friends. I'm happy that she has, so far, been very responsible with her phone... and even more happy that my phone is MY phone once again! LOL

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