To Cell Or Not To Cell

My second child desperately wants a cell phone for Christmas. 

He’s ten.  And he’s the most persuasive person I have ever met

He likes to play with my cell phone, typing out text messages to me without actually sending them.  Instead, he just walks over to me and holds the phone up to my face.  It reads, "What are we having for dinner?"

Dude.  I’m standing right here.  Please feel free to address me with the remarkable technological achievement called YOUR VOCAL CORDS.

The other day he observed aloud to me that "you know, I bet the best way I could convince you that I can handle a cell phone is to be really responsible about other stuff."  Then he proceeded to set the table, finish his homework, put away some laundry and help his sister with a project, all without being asked.

I thanked him heartily.  (And then I wondered how long I can milk this thing for all it’s worth.)

Hubs and I have been talking about the kids-with-cell-phones issue a lot lately, and he’s not a big fan of the idea.  He’s worried about the phone getting lost or over-used, and of course, he doesn’t want to receive any outlandish bills.  I agree. 

But I can also see a few positives about letting the two older kids have phones.  I like the idea of the boys having access to a phone when they’re away from me, for security reasons.  We could always buy a pre-paid plan, I’ve reasoned, so there would be no surprise bills.  We could find a bare-bones, inexpensive phone without Internet access.  The kids could help re-stock the minutes with their allowance

Most of all, I like the idea of the boys having some hands-on experience setting cell phone limits before they hit the teen years.  Managing a cell phone responsibly is a learned skill.  Learned skills require practice. 

That brings me back to the question I keep mulling over in my head: how young is too young to begin learning this skill?  It’s that shaky parenting tightrope I walk daily (on many more issues than just this one)–I want to give my kids enough freedom that they’re having contstant opportunites to grow and mature, but I want to do it at a common-sense, cautious pace. 

So I thought I’d throw this dilemma out to all of you, for (hopefully) some hearty discussion.  Specifically, at what age did you (or will you) give your kids their first cell phone?  What kinds of limits do you put in place to help them manage it responsibly?  How much of the financial burden are they responsible for?  Have you come up with any other creative ideas for managing this issue?

I’m all ears.

182 thoughts on “To Cell Or Not To Cell

  1. gillie says:

    Since I remember the days when cell phones were as big as bricks and permanently attached to the inside of a car, I probably shouldn’t be replying. When I was growing up though, 12 was the magic age for almost everything. I got to start wearing make-up, shave, and have boys at my birthday parties when I hit 12. Dating and driving were of course at 16, but I think 12 is a good age for a lot of responsibility issues because kids really become aware of the outside world and start to care what friends think at that age. They still want to be responsible and they still rely on their parents, too. You may get a couple of good years in before they don’t want to listen to you anymore. Once you need that cell phone to keep track of them at 16, it may be too late.

  2. Stretch Mark Mama says:

    I say go for it. Seems like he’s ready, and it would help you. I’d start with really tight boundaries, and then loosen them from there. I’m guessing your son is the First Born Responsible Type, so letting him have the opportunity to prove to you that he is Responsible is worth quite a bit. And if not? Well, you’ve just got one more Really Great Consequence to add to your list. πŸ™‚

  3. Muddy says:

    My daughter got her first prepaid phone last December, age 17-paid for out of her own money she worked for. Trac Phone now offers phones that automatically have the double minutes thing worked in so when you add 60 minutes/units…it becomes 120…even more if you have one of their promo codes.
    My son got his just a few weeks ago (age 16) again, with his own money he earned at a job.
    Neither had a reason to have a phone before this. I have a prepaid that I use for emergencies. We’ve used walkie talkies (good ones) some in the past as they’ve walked the dog or we were out shopping and needed to split up for a bit.
    We’re a homeschooling family-so maybe that makes a difference in need there. They might would have owned one earlier if our situation had been different, I dont know.
    Initially, buying a prepaid phone is cheap (walmart has great deals on them..I think my son paid 10 for his a few weeks ago with the double minutes for life thing attached to it..and the minutes are not horrible either.) If it gets lost-you are not out a big amount of money..and you are not signed up for a long term contract. Your son will only have as many minutes as he can afford out of his allowance. IF he wants one-this is a good way to go-at least at first…for his age.

  4. JanMary, N Ireland says:

    We were resisting, but my 2 daughters (11 and 9 saved up their own (and granny’s) money, so we bought very basic ones, and they top-up their own credit Β£10 at a time. True to form, one child uses that up quickly, the other shows much more restraint!
    They rarely take the phones out of the house, but enjoyed keeping in touch with their friends over the summer while we were away at out cottage. At the first sign of over-use they know we will be limiting their use more.
    They have both had them for 6 months, and neither has lost theirs yet (a miracle in itself), and have certainly shown maturity and responsibility with them.
    Our only additional rule we have had to add is that phones are switched off and left downstairs at bedtime, to stop insomniac friends sending texts late at night.
    I had thought I would resist this for much longer (as I was 33 before I got my first phone!) but so far it has worked for me πŸ™‚

  5. kelli says:

    We waited until the kids were in middle school and being left alone at school functions. Thy got the phone in the car, and gave it back when picked up.
    Now that they are in high school, they each have a prepaid phone, no internet or camera. They brood about the internet part, since they cannot text- but in the next breath they talk about the “other” kids get to do it and text all during class.
    Hello?
    All during class? Not the best sales opportunity- ya think?
    so, they have it prepaid, low limits and have proven to be responsible. Once Kati gets a car (God help me she will be 16 Friday) and it out alone, we will certainly up her limits.
    Call us tight with technology, but as you would say “It works for me”

  6. Lainie@ Mishmash Maggie says:

    Our oldest is weeks away from being 12. She hasn’t asked for a phone but has asked when she would be able to get one.
    She is extremely responsible and I don’t worry about that end of it.
    I’m sure there will be many that disagree but I have a problem with “bar” lowering.
    A silly example of this at our house was bubble gum. I have this pet peeve about seeing really little kids chewing gum. I don’t know, it makes them look sassy to me.
    So of course with the firstborn, she was not able to chew gum, I kid you not, until she was 7.
    But then having three kids ages 4 and under, you get tired, perspective and a grip on reality all at the same time and second child has gum at 6 and youngest at 5. Can you hear that bar being dropped?
    So much for standards.
    Gum, other than dental issues, not really serious and not a lot of consequences.
    Another example of this is:
    It used to be there was a Senior Prom. It was something that was looked forward to and was part of the celebration of completing high school.
    Then somewhere along the line juniors said, “What about us?” Then they developed Junior Prom.
    Now you’ve got kids in middle school having dances so by the time they get to high school their Senior Prom is a big yawn and they’ve got to spice it up–first came Limos then hotel rooms. Who knows what they are doing nowadays.
    Things that were special weren’t preserved as special–the bar was lowered.
    As with the “gum” story, the standards we set for our older children are much higher than our younger children.
    No matter how well intentioned we are, younger children are introduced to things at an earlier age than their older siblings because stuff just “trickles down.”
    My point? Obviously, you and your hubby will decide what is best for your son. But since you asked, my thought is actually a question.
    If your son has a cellphone at the age of 10 are you comfortable with your younger children having one at 8? Or 7?
    I asked my hubby what his thoughts were on this. His answer–she can have a cell phone when she can pay for it herself.
    I think when she’s old enough to drive and would have the ability to be away from an adult that would have a phone.
    My thought, “What’s the hurry?”
    We survived without them and are relatively well-adjusted πŸ™‚

  7. Sue T says:

    My daughter got a phone on her 11th birthday, a few months after starting Secondary school. The deal is we top up the credit Β£5 a month, if she uses all that she either goes without or pays for more credit out of her pocket money. After the novelty wore off she proved incredibly responsible! She only takes the phone to school if she has plans with friends afterwards, otherwise she leaves it home to make sure it doesnt get lost/stolen.

  8. rachel says:

    We are going to get a third phone. It will not belong to a child, but will be available for the person(child) that may need. There have been times we have wished for a 3rd phone.
    I thought of the “lowering the bar” issue too, but more in terms of if this year it is a cell phone, what is next year going to bring. Then there is the value of waiting for what you want….a trait many adults are lacking.
    But you know your family’s situation and need best and this is not a one-answer-fits-all situation.

  9. Terri says:

    Well, we got a deal on a third cell phone on our plan a couple of years ago. We hesitated at first, but it was a freebie they threw into our plan. Our first thought was to be able to give it to my MIL when she had our kids. She (gasp) does not have a cell and really doesn’t want one. Anyway, it has been a GODSEND. We have four children. 12, 10, 7, and 4. It is a shared phone. Our older two have started participating in the gifted program’s overnight fieldtrips-they take this phone. If they go to a friend’s house, they take this phone. It is not theirs, but they may use it when necessary. I suggest an extra phone that is there when needed, but is not their phone, yet. We will probably allow our children to have their own phones when they begin to drive. I like being able to reach them (and the GPS to know when they are not where they should be). They better not do that, but being a youth pastor’s wife-I know teenagers pretty well!

  10. pinkcamojeep says:

    Our rule has been that the child gets a phone when he/she NEEDS it and can take responsibility for it. For us, that meant when the child was leaving home unprotected (walking to a friend’s home, going to the park alone, riding a bike to a pet sitting/baby sitting job etc…) and needed to be in touch. This was around age thirteen for both of my teens. The other criteria was that they paid their bill. It’s only around $10. to add a line plus $5-$10. for texting features. We also had our kids buy their phone (we activated it). If they want it, they can save for it. For most kids today, that’s not out of reach financially, even if you’re only thirteen. Paying for it themselves also helps insure that it doesn’t get lost. If it does, they’ll have to save to buy a replacement. I like the fact that I have access to every phone number that calls them (or they call) through my personal bill. If they don’t pay, they lose the phone immediately. One really helpful requirement is that they keep a daily or weekly log of their minutes and texts so there are no surprises. It’s like balancing your checkbook – it’s very helpful, but few people do it. Start by forming responsible habits.
    In todays world, it doesn’t seem like an “if” anymore, but a “when” they get a phone. You’re right, they need to learn early how to be responsible.

  11. Michelle- This One's for the Girls says:

    One piece of advice– get a plan with no texting. Both of my teens have phones and their plans are $10/mo (added on to our existing family plan.) No texting saves money and a lot of unnecessary “chatting.”
    My daughter insists she’s the only person in the entire high school who can’t text.
    Good. πŸ™‚

  12. cath kelly says:

    Oh boy…i’d just say no. An out and out no. i gave my 12 year old a cell phone (we call them mobiles) for security reasons. That was the last thing it was ever used for. Ever. Then again my daughter was a rather difficult teenager. Still I will always remember the month that the bills climbed into 4 figures – yes prepaid was a good idea, but so was the clever plan. Then after several years of battles, when i finally bit the bullet and took matters into my own hands, she almost had a breakdown when i wanted to take the phone away from her.
    And then, i’ve just spent the best part of the last six months trying to employ someone who fits into the gen y profile for my biz…and you know what? the things that matter most to them are their phone, can they have windows messenger on their computer so they can ‘stay connected’ (read chat all day and not do any work) and when am i getting my pay, along with how much is it.
    i’m figuring somehow this new generation is a bit out of whack and having grown up in this technological age, they expect to have all these conveniences, without any of the knowledge to get by without.
    call me a grinch, but i’m starting to wonder how the world would get on if GenY was all that was left to take care of us all.
    That said though, and i’m sorry to sound like a soap box, there are some amazingly inspiring kids out there, and maybe your son is one of them. If he is, do you think he might like a job in Sydney?

  13. Leigh says:

    I got my first cell phone when I was 16 and driving. It was also the size of a small purse and could be used as a personal protection device if need be.
    My oldest niece and nephew have each had a cell phone since they were 10 (they’re 16 and 12 now), and I guess it comes down to setting boundaries and knowing your kid. These two had their phones stripped from them after running up an outrageous texting bill, and not having the money to pay for their portion. Serious pouting ensued.
    If the kids have a ton of after school stuff going on, then I agree with whomever said that their kids get the phone when dropped off and then it gets returned when they get picked up. Outside of that, I don’t think they need one till they’re driving, and even then, there should be limits.

  14. gretchen from lifenut says:

    Hrrrmmm…
    About two weeks ago, I was listening to the radio and heard a story about a 12 year old boy who received NAUGHTY (and I am shouting that word) photos from a female classmate. Apparently, this is a trend called “sexting”—scary, eh?
    I’d say if you got a phone for him, monitor, monitor, monitor, and monitor some more. Daily, if you need to.
    Your son may be very responsible with his phone. It doesn’t mean the kids texting, calling, and emailing him will be…

  15. Jen says:

    My eight-year-old has a cell phone, but he is only allowed to call people in his contact list (mom, dad, grandma, etc). At eight, he really doesn’t have any friends to call. I like that he has the phone for safety reasons and that he’s learning to be responsible for something small and easily lost. Also, he only gets to carry it when he asks permission or he’s going to a place where I might worry about him a bit. I’m in my last year of college and my husband works long hours, so we depend on a bit of juggling between family members and friends for child care right now, and I just feel better if he has a way to contact me in case something goes wrong, he goes to the wrong place after school, etc.

  16. Susan G. says:

    We are facing the same issue at my house. We are getting a prepaid phone (that’s what my husband and I use anyway) to be the floater phone for whoever needs it. Sometimes that will be my oldest two boys (9 and 11) and sometimes that will be my husband who always forgets to charge his phone. πŸ˜‰

  17. Shannon says:

    We figure cell phones are a need and not a want. Our daughter was 14 when she got hers. She was always going here and there with school activities and she needed to be able to call us for rides and we needed to be able to get in touch with her. It was fine for a little while with her just using mine but then it got to be too much so we just added a line to ours for $10 a month and we just all share the minutes. We never use them all plus we get rollover so it works out great. We do not do texting though. I can’t stand it. There is nothing more annoying then a person who has a cell phone attached to their hand ALL the time and is texting constantly. I’d rather they just put it up to their mouth and talk. Our son is 12 and he talks about wanting a phone but what in the world does he need it for you ask! Not a stinkin’ thing!! Rarely does he go anywhere where he might need to get ahold of us and there is no phone around. If that is the case he takes one of the other 3 in the house.

  18. Megan says:

    My daughter is nearly 11, and she has had a phone since September. She is in middle school and is responsible for getting herself (with her friends) to Youth Group and tennis during the week on the bus, and she’s only allowed to carry it during those times. We have a prepaid card for her, so there are no surprise charges. It’s worked really well so far,and has proven to bea good opportunity for her to show responsibility and independance.

  19. Terra says:

    Ok, looks like I am going against the grain on this one and will shock most commenters when I tell you that my daughter got a phone for christmas last year (age 7.5) We added her to our family plan for $10 a month and we have unlimited texting on that plan. It has a camera. She has never used it to make a phone call…but she texts us (when she is at dance rehersals for many hours etc) and It makes me feel better knowing she has it. We live by the “teach technology responsibility while you still have lot of situational control over the children” rules…This daughter also has a laptop and a blog that she posts to. The phone has never been lost or abused but it provides a wonderful safety net in situations that we can’t be with her and has also helped her to learn to be more independant.
    I say go for it, chose your plan wisely, lay out the rules – when we did it last year we also starting talking early about “well if Santa brings you a phone do you realize how phones get paid for each month etc..
    Good luck

  20. Andrea @ rAndom issues says:

    I’m probably a little old fashioned (at only 26 yrs. old), but I don’t think a 10 year old needs a cell phone. I think it will likely just open the door to trouble. There’s plenty of time and opportunity to learn responsibility later. My brother and I couldn’ get such privileges until we were old enough to have a job and pay for it ourselves. I realize that was several years ago. I got my first cell when I went to college – as a sophomore! We weren’t allowed to take ski lessons until we paid ourselves – I was 14 I think.
    My little brother especially has gotten into trouble with the cell. A lot of money is still owed to my dad for sending hundreds – hundreds of texts within one week. It is a waste of time, and lends to trouble just because you want something to say to the other person. I think a lot of teens are disrespectful with their phones and texting – doing it in situations and places where it is inappropriate.
    So if you must, I suggest one of those phones that comes pre-programmed with like three numbers – that you as the parent choose. Those are the only numbers your son can call (like home, mom’s cell, and dad’s cell). It is for emergencies, sleepovers, and soccer practice – no internet, no texting.
    That is just my opinion. I am against texting and facebook and myspace and iPods (until they are older and more responsible).

  21. Patrice says:

    Our son is 10 and this year Hubby and I broke down and got him a cell phone for Christmas.
    We have two teenagers who got thier first cell phones when they were 12 & 13.
    Our youngest is very responsible, and like your son is always texting using my phone and showing me what he just texted and I am like you…open you mouth and speak!!
    We added him to our plan for $10 a month and we already have an unlimited texting plan, so that was not an additional cost. We did have the internet blocked along with the ablility to download ringtones and music so there is no worry of him getting on the net and running up the bill.
    This can go either way, but there is a sense of security that comes along with a cell phone for us, that is why we are allowing him to get his early.
    As with the other boys, we are not responsible for lost or damaged phones. There is insurance and they have to pay for that and have to pay to have the phone replaced if it’s lost, stolen or broken.
    We were worried about what others may say when they found out that we have allowed our 10 year old to get a phone for Christmas, but then again, it is our child and that was all that mattered!
    Good luck with making your choice!!

  22. Kim @ My Journey says:

    How funny… this morning over breakfast my third grade, 9 year old says to me that next year he will ask for a cell phone for Christmas. Why? Because ALL 4th graders have one! Well, of course. Ahhh, the twists and turns of parenting. He said it would be cool to get an iPhone like me. Uh, no! PS ~ I’ll totally be watching how you handle this so I can copy you! πŸ™‚

  23. Katie says:

    My sister-in-law bough our niece a cell phone a couple years ago. She’s 12 now, and still hasn’t lost it for more than a day. Mom and Dad pay $15 per month for a set amount of minutes. If niece wants more minutes, she has to pay for them herself. They got her a pretty basic phone, but it is still working well today. The first couple months, she used all her minutes really quickly, and had to deal with choosing to either pay for more or quit using her phone until the next month. I think it has taught her quite a bit about budgeting. She’s budgeting minutes instead of money, but she’s understanding that she can’t just blow all she’s got at once. She has learned to ration out her minutes to last her the whole month, and is even starting to anticipate high usage times!

  24. shelly says:

    we have a deal with our 12 year old..when he can go 6 months without forgetting something (gym clothes, homeowrk), we will get him a cell phone…the 6 months gets reset about every 4 weeks, which shows he is not ready…what does he need one for…he is never anywhere that he cannot get to a phone if he needs to…i got my own landline when i was 13 and paid my own bill…but i talked on the phone, he does not…once he needs it, i am all for it, but it is just another entitlement of the age i don’t think is necessary…it is a want not a need

  25. Jenny says:

    I’m a new mom so I probably shouldn’t be chiming in. 10 just seems SO young. Maybe it’s the new 13, I don’t know. By the time mine get to that age, 10 will be the new 16. Yikes!!

  26. AmyDe says:

    I never really worry about my kids having access to a phone – they are always with adult supervision (of some variety) and they can always borrow a phone – “everyone has one” right?

  27. Sandy toes says:

    Right now, I would say when they get a job! At age 10, what do they really need a phone for..who are they calling? do his friends have cell phones?
    Buy him “legos”..keep him young!
    -sandy toes

  28. Carey says:

    I got my daughter her first cell phone at age 10, but it was a “Firefly” – which I don’t believe they make anymore. It had no number keys – all numbers had to be programmed in (by Mom and Dad, of course). It had one button for Mom, one button for Dad, one series of buttons for 911, and a menu button for programmed friends. The phone would only accept incoming calls from numbers that were programmed on it.
    Now, at 12, she was given a real cell phone – with texting priveleges as well. I’ve had no problems with her abusing it, and she’s never gone over her allowed minutes or texts. There have been many times when I’ve been glad she’s had it, when one of us needed to reach the other.
    I really believe in laying the groundwork for phone responsibility BEFORE they hit high school. Times they are a’ changin’! Personal communication devices are the way of the world, and are only going to get more advanced. We’re better off starting them young how to use them and not abuse them!

  29. Sally says:

    My husband and I both use prepaid phones, so no monthly bills. Both of our teenage daughters wanted phones, but neither wanted a prepaid phone like we have, they both wanted “cool” phones that do everything and come with an expensive plan like “everyone else” has. We told them we would only get them prepaid phones like ours-if they wanted any other kind, then they would have to pay for it themselves, because we were not going to be paying outrageous monthly bills from overuse and constant texting. So our oldest daughter did not get her first phone until she was 18 and had a job so she could pay for it, and she pays $75 per month for her plan. Our 14-year-old doesn’t have a job and she is still refusing to accept a prepaid phone, so still no phone for her. They compare themselves to all the kids at school whose parents buy them everything they want and pay for everything, without making their kids take any responsibility for the cost, so they think that we are VERY unfair in our views that they must pay for it themselves if they want a “cool” phone and a “cool” plan. Because they say that “no one else’s parents make their kids do that.” (After reading some of the the other comments, I beg to differ….)

  30. Michelle says:

    I too, come from the bag phone era….*shudder* and have a more conservative opinion on cell phones and kids.
    We allowed our oldest to get his own phone (an added line on our account) at 14. We paid the bill until he turned 16. Now, on the first of every month, he has to come up with the $12 or it gets shut off (which reminds me that he is late) My 15 yo, although a technical wizard, is not too interested in having a phone at this point even when we offered him one. It’s probably because we do not have/allow texting…..I believe in your vocal cord reasoning. I am pretty sure, based on what my teens tell me…..that they are the only teenagers who do not have texting privileges. And I tell them, that they are absolutely correct in referring to texting as a privilege, not an entitlement.
    Oh, and from what we are told…..we are “minute Nazis” as we only allow “in-network” calling….no excessive minute usage.
    I hope you find something that works for your family… πŸ™‚

  31. Sheri says:

    My kids are homeschooled so we look at things a little differently, meaning, they are seldom away from us and therefore don’t really need the phones. IF they were in public school I am relatively sure that both my 6th grader and 8th grader would have bare bones cell phones.
    (I will add…we have been looking into one for our girl (6th grader) because she wants to be on the phone all of the time and we live so far out of town all of her friends are long distance)

  32. angela says:

    they have a lot of options out there for cell phones now.
    My sister who is going to be 11 just got a cell phone. Her mom (we have different moms) put a star next to each name that is “in network”. My sister knows those are the only people she can call or text during the day – except for emergencies.
    So my sister is learning about in-network vs. out of network. Day/night/weekend calling. Text messaging, etc.
    It also gives her mom and our dad something to take away in cases of punishment.

  33. Elizabeth Sue says:

    Read this article and decide for yourself:
    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_25/b3989080.htm
    There is some concern amoungst the medical community about kids and high cell phone use.
    Something to consider as well. I got my husband a blue tooth because he is on his cell a lot for work. This cuts down on the radiation from the phone.
    Sorry to sound like a dark cloud, but me personaly would not buy my young child a phone for regular use with the jury still out on it causing brain tumors.

  34. Mel says:

    I got a cell phone when I turned 16, because that’s when I started driving (for reference, I’m 21 now). The fact of the matter is that a 10-year-old simply doesn’t need one. He’s ten! He’s never going to be somewhere you or another adult didn’t take him. He’s never going to be somewhere without a landline or someone who DOES have a cell phone. Also, I don’t think kids are really responsible enough, despite what he may say or do – kids drop stuff, kids lose stuff, kids promise to take care of the puppy and never do. It’s the same with cell phones.

  35. Kay says:

    When kids begin to use cell phones part of the umbrella of protection parents provide is removed. When they give out their cell phone # and start to call their friends, their calls are routed away from Mom and Dad. Who calls them and when and about what? I grew up with one house phone in the kitchen that adjoined the only living room our family shared and believe me every call could easily be monitored. I like Andrea’s idea of the pre-programmed numbers used for contact with those people that a 10 year old needs to stay in touch with. And the idea that the phone stays with mom when not on an outing that might need a call. Does that help?

  36. Jennifer R. says:

    This is a very helpful discussion. Thanks for initiating it!
    Both of our girls have asked for cell phones (ages 14 and 10), mostly because some of their friends have them. Our answer has been that they can have one when they need it. We homeschool, so they are almost never in a situation where they are not with us or another adult with a cell phone.
    Another reservation I have is the way cell phones remove us from the people around us. It used to be that you could have a conversation with someone without being interrupted by a phone call. Not any more. It seems like I always see people (teenagers especially) with phones stuck to their ears and the people around them take a back seat. This is sometimes an annoyance and sometimes is just downright rude. Many teenagers with phones seem to prefer texting and talking on the phone to speaking with the friends right there with them. For the younger ones, I think it’s just an attempt to look “cool” and “important.”
    My oldest is starting to have a need for one since she is working as a soccer referee and we sometimes drop her off rather than waiting for her. She will also be driving soon, although with adult supervision, so she will probably be getting one in the next year or so. That will only intensify the groanings of my 10 year old, I’m sure.

  37. Amy in West TX says:

    All of mine have cell phones. My youngest was 9 when she got hers. She does theatre, dance, acting, piano and voice lessons. I need her to have a phone for my convenience so she can call me if rehearsals are over early or run late. 16 texts constantly at home. It is nice I can reach her during school hours. She keeps it on silent and checks during breaks. Yesterday was a day she needed it, she left some spirals in my car from when she had a problem at school and I had picked her up. 19 is in college. He doesn’t have a landline, uses his cell instead.

  38. Kim H. says:

    This is a tough one. My response to my kids getting one was “where am I leaving them that is so unsafe that they need one?” – and yes, I realize it’s a priviledge, so we made sure our daughter was aware of that when we FINALLY agreed to her having one. We gave her a pre-paid phone for her 8th grade graduation gift. We put on the first minutes, but after that, it has been her responsibility to pay for – or earn – her minutes. She is to keep track of the calendar and be aware of her usage.
    Three months in to having the first phone, she broke it – by misusing it – and her world was ROCKED. She went without a phone for a month until she earned enough money to replace it.
    My problem with the cell phones and the texting is that I think it is easier for kids to be sneaky and try to get around their parents hearing their conversations. I don’t like that about them.
    But now that our daughter is in HS and being involved in activities, it has come in handy.
    Just remember they’re all masters of persuasion. My son made his bed trying to prove he was responsible enough to get a bb gun (WHICH DIDN’T HAPPEN) and amazingly enough after his birthday came and went and he didn’t get the gun, he seemed to “forget” how to make his bed. That’s all I’m sayin’.
    Good luck.

  39. Rachel Silverman says:

    I got my first cell phone when I was old enough to drive – for fear that I would get lost or the car would break down and I needed a safe way to be in touch with my parents.
    The logic still holds today – even if the age is lower. If he goes places without you, and you want him to be able to contact you, he needs a cell phone. Our world has come to depend on cell phones, and its rare that I see pay phones available anymore. Gone are the days where kids are safe with just 50 cents in their pocket, to make a call.
    Which is worse, giving your son have a cell phone (with all the right rules and restrictions) or having him approach a stranger in the mall to borrow theirs because he needs to call you?

  40. Mrs Lemon says:

    Miss Splenda has a cell phone, and I’m not crazy about it. But since she lives with her mother (who lacks a backbone AND a brain – oops, did I say that out loud?) we don’t really have any control over that. But when she’s with us, she doesn’t really have enough time to get bored to the point of wanting to call her friends. She doesn’t have any texting, though.
    If it was my choice, I wouldn’t have allowed it yet, regardless of the sales pitch. That’s just me, the wicked step-mom of the north though.

  41. Valerie says:

    My first reaction is to say the 10 is too young. Is your son away from home a lot? Sports? That might make a little more sense. Do you have a home phone? Can’t friends call him on that? Add a different ring to your home phones plan so that when someone calls your son he knows it is for him. I just wonder at the age of 10 how many people is he going to be talking to? And if he wants it because it will make him cool, then thats all the more reason not to get it. As I heard growing up “School is not a fashion show. It’s where you go to learn” I don’t see cell phones fitting into the learning atmosphere.
    I do however like the idea of an extra family cell phone. For handing to the kids when you drop them at the mall, or at a friends house, or at the sporting event. That makes sense and would give peace of mind.
    Well, thats my 2 cents since you asked for it.

  42. Cheryl says:

    I share custody with my ex. My 18 yo dd was given a phone by me (on my phone plan) when she was 14 because I couldn’t get a hold of her or her younger brothers when they were with their dad. My boys, 14 and 15, were given pay as you go phones by their dad this year. They continually forget them, lose them temporarily or don’t have minutes on them. I don’t think either of the boys need them, mainly because of the cost of losing them, but they don’t call anyone anyway…lol.

  43. Shannon says:

    Personnally I think that it depends on the kid. My oldest is 9, and I know that some of the kids in his class have cell phones. I, however, feel that 9 is way too young, no matter who the kid is. I may get my kids a cell phone when they are 12-13, but they will only be able to call me, their dad, or grandma….I believe that there are plans out there where you can only call certian numbers, just for kids.

  44. SarahMay says:

    I didn’t have a cell phone of my own until I got married. My parents always had a family plan with two phones; when someone in the family went out, we grabbed whichever one was available. If you have lots of older kids going in and out, three or four phones might be better. This system worked well; we knew the phones were for emergencies or calling home, and never used up the minutes talking to friends.

  45. Jennifer says:

    I didn’t read all the above comments, so this may have been mentioned already.
    We bit the bullet and gave our son one at his 14th birthday. He’s been very responsible with it. The reason we did this was because I would let him use mine if he was going to be away (school functions, selling candy door to door, at a friends home). Well, I needed my phone at these times too. Another thing is that we’ve taken his phone away (just as good as a grounding in our case) when he didn’t write down his homework assignments. That is another big issue. So, our arrangement of writing down hw assignments or phone grounding works very well for us.

  46. WorkingHardMom says:

    My oldest has a cell phone. She’s had it for a little over a year. We decided it was time for her have the privilege of having a cell phone because she was starting to do stuff without us and we wanted the security of her being able to get in touch with us in case of an emergency. Our decision was based more on the fact that she was doing stuff without us more than her age.
    That being said, she has had the phone taken away from her because she abused the privilege. We have explained to her that it is a responsibility to have a cell phone and that if she does not follow our rules, she does not get to keep the phone. It has worked so far, and like you said, it is a learned skill.

  47. My Twenty Cents Keeps Moving says:

    My oldest got his this year for his 13th birthday. We are homeschoolers also, but he is in scouts and works at the community theater sometimes and I was starting to wish he had one for my convenience. He has had it since February and has not lost or broken it.
    We have unlimited texting on our family plan, so he is included in that. We are big fans of texting here.
    My 10 year old daughter has asked when she can have one. I told her when she is 13, but that may change. When she starts going places without me I may decide I want her to have one. She is very involved in the theater as well, so her day may come sooner.
    Leslie

  48. Reading Rosie says:

    My first born received a very basic Tracfone when he began Middle School. He could not take it to school, it did not have text, photos, internet, etc. Very basic. He used it when he traveled with his basketball team for out-of-town games. We paid for the small amount of minutes and he never went over his limit. As he got older he wanted one with “more” features. After he turned 18 and for graduation, he received a top line Tracfone with all the bells and whistles, also double minutes for life. We paid for the phone, stocked it with minutes and then turned it over to him to maintain. I do think giving him the small responsibility when younger, helped teach him how to be responsible with more later.
    My youngest son received his brother’s old phone this year when he went into Middle School. We are doing the same with him, and so far he is using his minutes wisely.
    We have control of the phone and can take away the priviledge if necessary. It is not bad for younger kids to have a phone if you set simple limits and boundaries and “stick to them”.
    Also, my kids never got an allowance. I refused to pay them for doing necessary household chores. They did get rewards for being responsible to their duties and when they needed money for “something” it was usually provided without strings attached. Their attitude also went a long way in our decision making process.

  49. Karen says:

    Well, we homeschool, so the whole kids being away doesn’t happen all that often. But with my oldest…. we gave her a phone when she was about 12 1/2 when we made a move halfway across the country. We thought it would be a cheap way for her to stay in touch with her friends. She is almost 17 now and attending private school… the unlimited texting has been great.
    My next oldest will be 13 at the end of the year. He is getting a cell for his birthday. He has begun going places in the neighborhood and here on base without me (going off with friends) and there have been plenty of times I have wanted to be able to get in touch with him to let him know I wanted him home. I think he will do fine with a phone.
    The 10yo daughter thinks she needs one because she has a friend (not homeschooled) a few months younger who has one. Not happening.

  50. Marlene Farcin says:

    My Grandson bought his own track phone this year and he is 10. He pays for the minutes with his own money. It is nice for him to have in his backpack in case his Mom is late geting to school. (he has to keep it turned off during the day). I think it is making him more responsible and he takes very good care of it. It was so cute – when he got the phone he gave me his number and said. “but don’t call me Mamaw, I don’t want to use up my minutes”. (the texting uses less minutes!!)

  51. Amy says:

    Last Friday we went out bowling with my in-laws and on the lane next to us were 3 pre-teenish age kids, their father, and their grandfather. I watched for awhile as the 3 kids spent their entire bowling experience with their grandfather on their cell phones with friends. They were too busy texting and talking to friends to even interact with their family. This went on the entire time, including when they were actually bowling. It was quite sad. They didn’t talk to their family at all, only their friends.
    I guess my biggest problem with pre-teens and teens having cell phones is that they are glued to them, and boundaries or etiquette are not followed. We have a HUGE problems with teens texting during church and for some reason their parents don’t see a problem with it. It is very distracting!
    I got a cellphone at 16 way before texting was even invented so that wasn’t an issue. My Mom’s rules were simple. It was for emergencies only, do not turn it on during school, and do not use the phone to chitchat with friends when the house phone is right beside you.
    If you think your son is responsible enough to take care of a phone, and to know when it is acceptable to use it, then go for a pre-paid phone for a trial session. If you don’t like the results, then repo the phone. Good luck!

  52. Corey says:

    What about those kajeet things? I read about them somewhere.. There are supposed to be all kinds of parental controls and they are supposed to be cheaper.
    We added our daughter to our plan when she was 12. She is the oldest of 6, a homeschooler, very responsible. She uses it to talk to her friends that live out of state, to text them, and any time we split up at the mall or other venues. It’s handy for ME to have her have one, so that I can let her go wander off at Claire’s and I don’t have to wait for her there and let my brains drool out my ears.

  53. fern says:

    We gave our kids cell phones when I felt that it would help me. At about age 14. I work full time and they were in different schools and often walked hom. I wanted them to be able to reach me and for me to be able to reach them. I did not set up voice mail for them. We have a family plan and share minutes.
    This year, my son went to college and we agreed to split the cost of text messaging with him. It turns out that this is the mode of communication and we really felt it was important that he be in touch with others (he is not in typical dorm). He is not a very social kid and we don’t want him to miss opportunities.
    Texting is a good way for kids or parents to communicate privately. If one of my kids is in an uncomfortable situation or does not want his/her friends to know that he is calling his mom–he can text me to come get him. It is safe.
    Neither of my kids has abused the phone or lost one–with one exception. My son once lost of phone and I had to put a hold on it so no one could make phone calls. I searched high and low–one day, after a few weeks, I walked in his room. The cat who was laying in the middle of the floor–stood up and there was the phone underneath the cat. The cat must have batted it under something and then a few weeks later found it and brought it out again. So glad the cat was not calling his friends.

  54. Heather says:

    We have one cell phone for 3 children. But then we homeschool, have no home phone, and both work from home so this way they have a phone to talk to grandparents and friends on without borrowing our phone. It is a plain Jane no internet phone, it was free with our plan and only cost $10 a month to add to our plan. Since they are usually with us they seldom use it though they take it if they are going somewhere with someone.

  55. AprilMay says:

    PLEASE read my blog post on this topic!
    http://shmoo2.blogspot.com/2008/08/this-is-why.html
    It is about a HUGE study done in Europe on cell phone use in children. It scared the pants off of me. And I agree that cell phones are a TOOL, not a toy. My 16 year old has a pay as you go, no texting one that he pays for himself. My 13 year old will get the same type of one when he drives. Neither or them are/will be allowed to carry it in their pockets! (Read the study linked to my blog post!)

  56. Aunt Murry says:

    I think twelve is a good age. It is the age where they are excited about been a teen and its a good age to have the responsibility of a cell phone. Not that there is anything magic about 12 but that seems to be the age where they are starting to spread their wings and do a lot of things on their own.

  57. Charlie says:

    I went back and forth on this for quite some time, before I added a phone for my daughter to my plan. She is 8. I think it’s a young age to have one, but my reasons were this: we have no landline, and her Dad and I are divorced. The main purpose for her to have a phone was to keep in contact with her Dad. She is only allowed to call ‘in Network,’ so the calls are free and she is permitted to text in Network also. No phones are allowed at school, so it stays in her bag.
    As a previous commenter mentioned, she is also getting more involved in activities on her own after school, and b/c I work nearly an hour away and our winter weather can be iffy, it is helpful for me to be able to text her and let her know I am on my way.
    Once the novelty of having a phone wore off, she really has been just using it to call her Dad, me and her grandparents… [primarily b/c most children her age don’t have one yet.] I think this will become more challenging as more of her friends get phones. Not sure what I’m going to do then!

  58. Sarah the secret blower says:

    well…if you give a child a phone, he is going to want a charger to go with it, and if you give him a charger to go with it, he is going to need…
    just kidding…oldest college daughter got one when we sent her off, we are all on the same plan, so we could talk for “free” without minutes pinging us
    then I added a line for next daughter who was busy with basketball out of the house, sometimes needing rides, sometimes not…so it was a good way to keep in contact with her…
    again, this benefitted ME…do you see a pattern here emerging….smile…
    I then added a line for my dad, because my grandmother was going to move in with us and one for her, so we could all call each other for, you guessed it, “FREE”
    she passed away so my next two children, inherited her phone…we were already stuck with it and they have shared it semi-successfully..
    I have adamantly opposed texting…I find it obnoxious…sorry, but there it is..
    but this year for Christmas, grandmother is pitching in…we can upgrade to some cool snazzy phones…mind you, they never complained about the boring freebies…so they earned cookies in my book for not being spoiled brats that have to have the latest and greatest…
    they have never pinged me on minutes, they have only had a couple of accidents…and my son has surprised me with being the most cautious and careful with his…
    I have learned so much about my children with how they have handled this responsibility and againg, it is about ME.
    What age…I agree with 12 being a ripe age to earn it…that is like a milestone and it gives them something to look forward to!

  59. Lari says:

    My oldest is about to be 12 and we’re thinking about getting a 3rd phone to be used when he’s at practice or at friend’s houses. We’ve had 2 incidents this yr where we had a communication problem and he ended up being picked up late from football practice. I think it’s a good idea to start teaching responsibility early. If we do get one it’ll be a prepaid, for calls only.

  60. Noelle @ Six Silly Sullys says:

    Oh, I just wrote about my 10 year old step daughter and her cell phone last week on my blog (I linked to the post below if you want to read it.) She text messages this boy in her class constantly. Innocently, but constantly. We just keep constant tabs on her usage of it. Good luck; I’m sure you’ll make the right decision.

  61. Jane says:

    I second many comments about being careful with camera phones, but it sounds like your son is responsible and desires to prove it too. The nice thing about pre-paid card kind of phones is that aunts and uncles can give minutes as b-day gifts.

  62. Amy @ Finer Things says:

    I’m incredibly old fashioned AND frugal… quite a mix! We have ONE cell phone in our family. It’s prepaid. I pay $100 per year to own it, so it basically costs us $8.33 per month.
    Again, very old fashioned (and with 3 small children at home), but if a FAMILY can survive on one $8.34 phone I just can’t see giving one to a kid.
    We’ll see if my tune changes when my oldest turns 10. πŸ˜‰ Good luck!

  63. A Maui Blog says:

    you’ve hit something that is sooo relevant! My 10 year old daughter and our 11 yr old son are wishing for cell phone of their own (esp the daughter). Our initial answer is no, not yet. But I will be watching this post πŸ™‚

  64. kellie says:

    This doesn’t quite fit your situation, but I thought it was a good idea. I have a friend with teens and they decided to get an extra cell phone that doesn’t belong to any one child – it goes with the car. Whoever is out driving the car has use of the phone. You could also do this with just whichever child is out doing something where you’d like them to be able to contact you.

  65. Lynnet says:

    Our kids have long hinted at being “the only ones” without a cell phone. But we really wonder why do they need it? They are constantly with me, and Oldest is the only one that goes to public school. He’s always just called us from school or used a friends. This last month he passed his driver’s exam and we got him a cell phone. He was more thrilled about getting the phone than his drivers test. He is pretty responsible, but our main reason is he will be out driving on his own and if he needs to get hold of us, he can. He travels with the school for band trips and stuff, this gives us more peace of mind. We told him up front that we do not have texting plan and to tell his friends not to text. One of his friends told us that we could get this blocked from his phone if others start texting. We also told him that we share minutes between three phones. He mainly uses it just to call us. He knows that at any time he can lose it and other privileges if he crosses the line, and he know that when we tell him this, it’s not just lip service.

  66. Amy Andrews says:

    To me, it’s not about the cell phone. There are valid reasons why a cell phone would be a good idea and why a cell phone would be a bad idea. I’m tempted to say things like, “[Enter age here] is too young for a phone.” or “I didn’t have a phone until I was [enter age here].” or “I know of someone/had a child that [enter great/horrible situation here].” The fact is, every kid is different, every family is different and every experience is different. I think there are some kids who can handle a cell phone at age 8 and some kids who can’t handle a cell phone at age 18, but hashing those sorts of things out is missing the point.
    Whenever a privilege is given, there must be clear expectations. That’s true. But instead of getting bogged down in the surface issues of cell phone use, I think it’s more effective to look at the heart issue. What does having a cell phone mean to your son? Is it a way he can explore his manhood and prove his ability to handle something “big”? Does he have a genuine gift/love for technology, is particularly fascinated with the cell phone and would like to further pursue his interest? Or maybe he’s feeling left out socially and thinks this would be a way to close the gap? Or maybe none of his friends have a cell phone and he’s searching for a way to stand out? I have no idea, of course, but hopefully you get my drift…and hopefully you don’t think I’m completely looney. πŸ™‚
    I’ll speak for myself and say that when I get a bee in my bonnet about something, the thing I’m focused on is very often just one way I’m trying to work out whatever it is that’s underneath. I would suspect the same is true for your son.
    As a parent, figuring out the heart issue is usually helpful for me. It makes the best solution in a situation like this a lot easier to uncover because I’m addressing what’s really being sought and not getting stuck in the surface stuff.
    My general parenting motto is: Freedom Within Boundaries. I believe that’s the way God parents us and because I’m pretty clueless as a parent, I figure I’ll just copy God. πŸ™‚ So, in conclusion to this manifesto, I’d say: figure out what your son is *really* after and then make a decision about the cell phone accordingly, offering freedom within boundaries.
    The end. πŸ™‚

  67. Hillary says:

    My son is now 15 and has had a cell phone for about 2 and a half years. He started with a Trac phone (TracFone.com) which worked well for a year or so. I then added him to my plan since he was using it more and had proved he was responsible. I think it’s a personal, family decision that you as a parent needs to make. It sounds like you’ve got a great son and he’ll do fine.

  68. Superchikk says:

    I don’t have a kid of age to have a cell phone, but we spent the last 10 of 11 years in Student Ministry, Middle School, specifically.
    It seems that kids are getting phones younger and younger. And I think it depends on the individual as to how old is “old enough”. But at some point you do have to teach responsibility and judgment. And the way to teach it is to let them have one and make some mistakes with it.
    I can’t count the times I had to get up during a Wednesday night service and take phones away from kids who were texting during worship or while my husband was preaching. Granted, most of them were girls. πŸ™‚
    Personally, I think a prepaid phone is a great option, especially with them helping pay for the minutes. But don’t forget about texts! Those things can break the bank! And setting ground rules is always a good thing.
    You might check into the plans where you can monitor their usage on the internet. With prepaids, I’m not sure you have access to call records, etc.

  69. Molly says:

    My son has had a cell phone since he was 10 but it was a necessity. at the time his father didn’t have a phone my son could not reach me when he was visiting his father. He rarely used it.
    When he hit 7th grade the bills went through the roof because of texting. Now we have unlimited texting. Honestly, his phone NEVER rings.
    He knows if there are overages, he is responsible for them or we get the phone until his debt is paid…that hasn’t happened since we set limits.

  70. Julie says:

    I teach 8th grade and from the problems I’ve seen I would advise all parents to stay away from camera phones for kids. Even if you have a great kid, they can also be impulsive or it can fall into their friends hand who doesn’t always make the best choices.
    I had a student whine because her dad makes her put her cell phone and laptop on the kitchen counter at 9pm every night. My response – there’s a dad who loves his kid. Set the boundaries and make them clear.

  71. AprilMay says:

    I posted earlier about a study done in Europe but the article (linked in my blog) that was on msn is gone, so I searched it out and found it here:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/mobile-phone-use-raises-childrens-risk-of-brain-cancer-fivefold-937005.html
    And here’s a quote from the article (Sept ’08):
    “Children and teenagers are five times more likely to get brain cancer if they use mobile phones, startling new research indicates.
    The study, experts say, raises fears that today’s young people may suffer an “epidemic” of the disease in later life. At least nine out of 10 British 16-year-olds have their own handset, as do more than 40 per cent of primary schoolchildren.
    Yet investigating dangers to the young has been omitted from a massive Β£3.1m British investigation of the risks of cancer from using mobile phones, launched this year, even though the official Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) Programme – which is conducting it – admits that the issue is of the “highest priority”.
    Despite recommendations of an official report that the use of mobiles by children should be “minimised”, the Government has done almost nothing to discourage it.”
    I also read elsewhere that many European countries are considering banning the use of cell phones in children under 16 due to this and other studies! But it will probably be a while before you hear about it in the US. Sorry…I’ll get off my soapbox now!

  72. Melanie says:

    My husband is almost 40 and just now got a cell phone. Only because they MADE him at work. We’re still fuddy duddies.
    I think it depends on the kid. There are so many options out there to protect your son. Prepaid plans, even some that have GPS tracking! (so I’ve heard) My main concern would be his safety, safety from who will call him, text him, etc. If you can choose something that caters to those needs, go for it.
    Just be prepared for the rest of the boys to ask for one next. :>)

  73. heidi says:

    My kids are too young (8 and under) to have considered this yet. My comment is to say thank you for opening this discussion up. I am so grateful for you and your blog. I seem to refer to it for wisdom on a daily basis. You are such a blessing, and I am so thankful that you are using the gifts that God has given you in a way that helps so many others!

  74. Amy in Idaho says:

    As a mother of 3 (14, 9 & 6) – 14 year old daughter has had a cell since she was in 5th grade and my two youngest share a phone and have for 2 years – The interesting thing is that it just isn’t a big deal to any of them anymore. It isn’t an accessory, it isn’t a toy – it’s just a useful tool for our family. My oldest is a freshman in high school now(big change for this mama) and I get texts telling me that her Tuesday morning bible study ROCKED! And that I have to go read this great verse. I get picture messages from her showing me a cool science experiment or a great poster she made for student council. I also get to send her quick reminders that I love her and she’ll do great on her test after lunch – and she always knows that I’m on my way – and to go hang at the library for a few until I get there! My little ones turn the phone on right after school so that if I need to reach them I can – and a couple of times that has come in really, really handy! They rarely have to even use it other than turning it on, and they have always been responsible with it – never an issue.
    My older daughter likes to text, but not at the expense of having a conversation but we have had to teach her that responsibility. It’s interesting because she and her dad text a lot lately. They have some funny and serious chats that way – it isn’t the only way, but it is one way that stay in touch – even when one is upstairs and the other is puttering in the garage. I have not regretted once yet that this family of 5 is a 4 cell phone household. It’s all about proper perspective and realistic guidelines and follow through.
    Good Luck!

  75. Paula, Stuff 2b Organized says:

    I would think it depends on your children and your family. My oldest is 7 and most of the time when I think about it, I say “no, my kids don’t need a cell phone. Every other kid has one and if they need to get a hold of use, us the friends’.” Then I get off my soap box and think, “I might see things differently when they are older.”
    I survived without a cell phone growing up and I was after school for sports, etc.
    I think the bottom line is that it is so important for parents to have open lines of communication with their children, be involved, know who their friends are, how they are doing in school, etc. Start young, but it’s never too late to start.
    I believe our relationships with our children are so important.

  76. Suzie says:

    First, when I click on your blog a box pops up asking for my information from blenza.com. It may be something on my computer, but wanted to let you know in case some other readers were experiencing the same thing.
    Onto the comment….
    About the cell phone, my husband and I direct an after school program for at-risk kids. The danger I find with cell phones is that it gives the child an excuse to not engage and to believe that they can solve problems on their own or with their friends’ help rather than an adult. My first tip that something is going on in the life of the kids is lots of texting. Also, we have had problems at our center with kids making calls to parents and to other people without our knowing. Someone we don’t know shows up to pick up a teenager in our program. We don’t know him, but the teenager has texted for permission and we were never even aware it was happening. So the cell phone also can undermine the authority of the teacher, after school director, youth minister or whomever is the adult responsible because that child can just call and ask for themselves.
    We take the kids away for a week of camp in the summer. This past year, I asked them to give me the cell phones to keep and every day after dinner I gave them a fifteen minute block to use them. By Tuesday of the week, the kids quit asking for their cell phones. I loved the atmosphere of no cell phones. As much as I love technology it can become a barrier to strong family relationships.
    That being said, cell phones aren’t going anywhere and I will soon have to decide whether to let my child join the trend or be different. Reading this discussion has been helpful to me. I think in my case when the time comes, I’ll buy one “Go” phone to be taken when going out at night or with friends, but not to school.

  77. Melissa says:

    My oldest son didn’t get a cell phone until he was away in college, and his dad provided that. However, my younger son got his cell phone at 14, almost immediately after he was diagnosed with diabetes. The SCHOOL actually recommended that I get him the cell phone because he was so unstable at first, with blood sugar surges and drops.
    Both kids have limits on how much time they can use on the phone, but I don’t make them pay for the monthly service since it’s only $10 extra on my bill. Text messaging and internet access are not available on the younger son’s phone. He’s had it for nearly 5 years now and does very well abiding by the limits.
    I have seen phones for younger kids that literally only have a few buttons. They can be set to whatever numbers you want the child to be able to dial, including 911.

  78. Tami says:

    I say a cell phone is a big responsibility. I have a very responsible 10 year old and we’ve said no way. I think that there really should be a need for a cell phone. A friend of ours told her daughter when she could foot the bill (which was basically when she had a driver’s license), she could get it. She just got it 2 months ago. So that is probably what we are waiting on too.
    Just my opinion.

  79. Lori says:

    IF he was my son I would buy a very basic prepaid plan. I would definitely make him contribute by using some of his allowance money. I would also explain to him that he would have to keep showing me he was responsible enough to have it. That way he keeps setting the table and really, it’s a win-win situation. πŸ™‚

  80. Mel says:

    hmm this is a toughie I think it depends on the kid. My dd got her cell at 14, got it removed a few times for irresponsibility…on the other hand my oldest son had no issues really…
    my two youngest are too young to worry about it.
    I think the prepaid and use of allowance money is a good thing.

  81. deb meyers says:

    We have a family extra Trac phone for any kid out at an event who may need to call home, phone is turned in when event is over. No one has asked for their own yet. But I’m thinking through the day they will.
    One big thing to ponder: your own phone habits. Are you a responsible/safe phone user? Kids are always watching what we do.
    I have re-trained MYSELF to pull off the road when using the phone (and I don’t text, so not an issue). That’s the minimum expectation for them when they are driving, kind of like wearing a seatbelt.
    deb meyers

  82. Marla Taviano says:

    I’ll be back to read the comments later this afternoon. My oldest turned 8 today, and I know she would loooooooove a cell phone the second we say yes. I’m thinking 18 is good. πŸ™‚

  83. Missy says:

    We just got our oldest a Cricket phone for Christmas. It has unlimited calls and unlimited texts and he knows it will be monitered. We started out with a prepaid phone, he needed it to call home after football practice was over (DH and I both work, we have a younger son, we couldn’t be at every practice. )
    For us, it’s needed in my view, there are no pay phones around anymore, this way I can keep tabs on him and he gets some sort of freedom with his friends. He’s 12. The prepaid phone was expensive compared to Cricket, 20 dollars for an hour of service is ridicules. He goes more places without adult supervision these days. I have no fear of dropping the bar with my youngest, because he’s only 7 and not allowed anywhere without an adult.
    We did just get a refurbished phone, and will tell him that he can upgrade as he shows reponsibility. With Cricket I can downgrade the plan from texting if needed and will if it is abused. We have extremely strict guidelines for what he can send and I know if he gets something sent to him outside of those guidelines he will come to me. For us its the matter of paying 20 a week (or 80 a month) for a prepaid plan, or 40 a month for unlimited calls and not worrying if the minutes run out.

  84. Magi says:

    Since my daughter is only 2, I haven’t had to deal with this yet. My sister, however, has. Her rule has been that when they’re old enough to be left somewhere on their own, then they can have a cell phone. They start with the pre-paid phone. Her oldest has one, and the second one is begging, but not yet.

  85. Kim says:

    Both of our girls have them (ages 11 &13), but we do not have a home phone. My oldest got hers just before she turned 12. It was a prepaid and she used her allowance to pay for her minutes. She got a new one last year and I put her on our plan but she still pays for it out of her allowance. She learned 2 big lessons with it to. One, you have to check your pockets before you do your laundry…cause they don’t wash well! She ruined her new phone and now has my old one and will for quite some time. Second, when you pay for 200 texts a month and use 1500, your bill is quite high. She has had to use all of her allowance and babysitting money for a month to pay that off. She now pays for the plan that gives her 1500 texts a month. It is also great leverage for keeping grades up…bad grades=no phone/texting…great incentive!
    The younger one has the older ones old prepaid and so far we still pay for hers, but when she turns 12, that will change too. She does not use it other than when she is at basketball practice or home by herself for a short period of time.

  86. Kim says:

    Oh and I forgot, the older one lost her first one less than a month after she got it. She had to save up for a new one (she lost it right before her birthday)…so that was another “natural concequences” lesson learned.

  87. Kelly says:

    My answer won’t be popular. My kids are 26 and 21. Our son got his cell phone when he graduated from high school and went to college so we could keep in touch with him at school. The rule was going to be the same for the daughter, but her grandfather stepped in and let her “borrow” his when she started driving. We were okay with that because she’s a girl and girls, face it, are bigger targets – that is, girls out alone. I have two nephews who are 10 and 9 and they each have cell phones and I think its ridiculous. We all want out kids to have what they want, within reason, but to learn values. Sometimes those two things just do not go hand in hand. Sometimes you learn to value something more if you have to work harder or wait longer to obtain it. But then, I spanked my kids when they were bad, too. And as evidence that isn’t harmful, they both have college degrees, played college sports, volunteer in praise & worship in their respective churches and local school activities. They both have told me and their dad that they can tell when they are around friends who had different types of discipline from them – they expect to get whatever they want, and have difficulty in the work force hearing criticism from supervisors and such. I constistently have people in our community stop me and compliment me on how good my kids are. I’m quick to say the Good Lord gets the credit for that – I just tried to guide them. I’m off chasing a rabbit, but I think 18 minimum age for a kid and a cell phone. Too easy to text-while-driving, cheat on tests, run up astronomical bills, and have excuses for staying away from home ’cause they can call rather than come home when they are supposed to. They are too attached to them – text all the time, the grown ups are getting more and more lax with restrictions. There’s a law in Alabama against having them in school and the schools just turn their heads now. They are foregoing discipline for convenience. That being said, I love the security of a cell phone if you’re travelling. We would loan our son our one family cell phone (at the time) when he went on a date or trip out of town, in case he had car trouble. Hopefully as a result of all that, we never had trouble with him running up bills. He was always careful of how he used it.

  88. Andrea Mitchell says:

    I just don’t know. 12 seems so young. I mean you see all these kids out there with their cell phones so detached from the people they are actually with because they are so busy texting someone else. I’m not sure I’d even want to go there with my kids yet. I feel like our kids feel so entitled to everything just because someone in their class has one. Plus, a cell phone is a lot easier to abuse than something like an iPod.
    At this point (and maybe I will change my mind when my 9 yr old is a bit older) I feel like a cell phone should only be given if your child has the means to pay for any charges they incur. So for us, that would mean she can’t have one until she has a way of paying for the extra $10 that we would have to add to my cell phone bill each month. As well as anything above that if she abuses it. Considering she the only money she makes right now is her allowance, she wouldn’t be able to manage that. It would be like having car privileges – they’d have to pay for the gas they use and any repairs if they were in an accident where they were driving carelessly/recklessly.

  89. ShortyMom says:

    My eight year old thinks he needs a cell phone. Not going to happen but he lets me know that he needs one. Regularly. My ten and eleven year old wouldn’t mind having one either, but don’t put on a show about it as much as my youngest.
    I did take advantage of a situation that happened here to show them they they’re really not old enough to have a phone. Our neighbor let her ten year old have a cell phone (at nine) because her teenage brother had one. The kid spent two days in the rain looking for it a few weeks back when it fell out of her pocket into another neighbors yard. Oops!
    Mine will learn the responsiblity later. When they learn to take care of the things they have now.

  90. Pam says:

    My grandson has one….no voice mail…that way other kids can’t “fill-it up” with lots of stuff. LIMITED TEXT…because they get to
    their limit really quickly. It has come in handy when he was at a sleep over and wanted to come home…he went in the bathroom and called mom….he was at football practice and a storm was coming…
    not 10 minutes after being dropped off…his has called ID and he only answers if he know who it is

  91. Ann G says:

    We got my older son a cell phone when he was 14 or almost, I can’t remember exactly when. He’s 18 now! He was sooooo behind the times! lol! I got him a basic phone, with NO texting capabilities! Unheard of in these times! When he was 16 I gave him “limited” texting….and made him pay for it!! Now that he is 18 he has “unlimited texting” and pays for it. I pay the initial plan part of the bill, he pays texting and overages. I also still have access to his phone account, so I can monitor who he is talking to and when, like when he is in school. He’s trying to change that by getting his own account, but he can’t get credit! to open the account!!

  92. Steffiej says:

    I have a 10 year old with a firefly phone, and we love it. He can only call the numbers we program in. Parents have a pin number so they can change things and monitor it. Go to firefly.com. They don’t make the original one anymore, I think..but they have the new models there.

  93. Rachel says:

    I’ll make this snappy as it appears people have long-winded opinions on children and cell-phone use. You parent differently than I do and my children aren’t yet old enough to be asking for cell phones, but I’ll share my philosophy. My parents felt the best way to teach me responsibility was to let me have the responsibility. In other words, if I couldn’t pay for it I couldn’t have it. I didn’t have a cell phone until I was married and pregnant with my first child. I was very careful not to over use it because I was paying for it. My kids will not get cell phones until they can pay for them.

  94. Sarah at themommylogues says:

    I’m going to agree that it depends on the child as far as age. Some kids are just ready for things earlier. That said, it is still one of the strangest sites to me when all the older elementary/middle schoolers get off the bus in front of my house and are on their cell phones as they walk the rest of the way home. Who are they talking to???

  95. Minnesotamom says:

    Husband and I wouldn’t even have a cell phone if my mom didn’t insist (and pay for it herself). Part of me feels like, well, if all the other kids have one, maybe Anja should someday, too. But part of me is resistant to being CONSTANTLY connected. I grew up without that connection, and I think my life was much more stress-free. Is it wrong that I haven’t activated the voice mail on the phone I do have? I don’t want to have to check messages yet another place. I guess I’m a fuddy duddy. We don’t have cable, either. πŸ™‚

  96. Dorinda says:

    I guess most of what I want to say has already been said – however I agree with many of the other parents that 10 is too young. My son (almost 9 and in third grade) also asked for one for Christmas but when we quizzed him as to why he wanted it – he answered that ‘all the other kids have one’.
    I did not get my first cell phone until I was 29! (I’m 33 now). When I was a kid I was only ever a bike ride or walk away from home or if need be a phone booth (do they even still make those??) As I said to my son, ‘in my day cell phone were called quarters’.
    So no, he will not be getting a cell phone this Christmas (or next). When I drop the kids off for rehearsals, practices etc, I make sure I am the one responsible to be on time to pick them up – yes even if it means I have to wait (or they do).
    Also, I think texting is an epidemic. And the longer I can prolong my children getting caught up in it – the better. When they do get cell phones (most likely when they start to drive) There will be no texting.

  97. Tami says:

    Good question! My 9yo has been asking for a cell phone already. He’s not getting one yet. He only goes to school by himself, otherwise either his father or I are with him so we don’t see the need. Yet. I do know there are cell phones that you can program with just the numbers you want the kids to call or receive calls from so they can’t be calling just everyone they’ve ever met. I also found this site that you can look at http://www.kajeet.com/kajeetStore/landing.do?lp=LP2&c=Y09.
    Anyway – good luck to you and let us know how it turns out. Some of us are right behind you waiting to learn from your experiences!!!

  98. Jessica says:

    My daughter is not old enough to want a cell phone yet, but one thing my husband and I have always said was if she ever got one she would need to work to save up the money for the early termination fee before hand. That way if she got out of control we would be able to cut it off without any money coming out of our pockets and if she was responsible, she would have a nice little addition to her savings account. Plus it would prove just how much she really wanted it.

  99. Janelle says:

    I’m sticking with our “not until high school” plan for now. If we find that a phone is needed before then we’ll have a “family phone” that people can take but is not owned by any of our kiddos. If some girl wants to call my son she needs to sweat out what she’ll say if his dad answers the phone!

  100. Stormy says:

    We got a cell phone for my oldest when he was 11.5. However he washed and it had to buy a new one. He also got to goofing off on his cell when he was supposed to be doing school work and lost it for a couple of weeks.
    Now we have new rules! He can only use his phone after all school work and chores are complete and he is only allowed to call and text approved people. It is his responsibility to keep it charged. It is his responsibility to carry it when he goes and does things that I am not with him. We have no internet or anything fancy on his phone. Just text and talk. So far it has been a learning experience for all of us. He turned 12 last week!

  101. nicole says:

    I’ve been thinking about this too, although my kids are definitely still too young (my oldest is 7). My Husband’s former boss gave his young son a cell phone, but it was one that did not dial. It was like a Jitterbug I guess–numbers were programmed in remotely. So the kid could only call his mom and dad. I like that idea. I say no texting at your son’s age. My sister was telling me about her friend’s daughter who is 11 exchanging inappropriate text messages. Also, all the kids we know that can text do that in place of conversation. And are rude about it. Okay, that was a generalization. I think prepaid is the way to go, with firm limits. Also, why does he think he needs one? Has he given good reasons? Because what 10 year old is not around an adult with a phone at all times? Kids say they need one to reach the parents, but presumably they are with responsible adults all the time anyway.

  102. ruth ann says:

    At what age will I give my kids their first cell phone? Well, I’m 38 and I don’t have one yet.
    My kids are all under age 5. So I guess that means I’ve got at least 30 years to decide when to give them a phone. HA!!

  103. Lorien says:

    Have you ever heard of a firefly? It’s a phone without a keypad, designed for emergency use by little kids. It has picture keys for mom and dad, and buttons to access an address book. It can only make or receive calls for the numbers programmed into it.
    It seems to me like it would be a great starter phone if you aren’t sure if they can handle a phone. But it might seem a little childish to an older kid.
    Actually, I just looked them up to give a link – it looks like they’ve expanded into offering fully functional phones with built-in parental control as well as the phones I described. Huh.
    http://www.fireflymobile.com/index.php

  104. sandy says:

    HA! I’m #109 …
    Security – sure, get a pre-paid phone that stays in the backpack.
    Otherwise I’d wait til 12, at least.
    Life changes when you get one, but you know that!
    Adding to our parent role now is “cell-phone-chief!” πŸ™‚

  105. Sara says:

    As a 5th grade teacher, I loved it when my students had a phone. Not only did I feel they were safer, I loved having instant access to Momma. πŸ˜‰

  106. Tani says:

    Please, please teach him proper etiquette. It really bothers me when piano students take phone calls in the middle of lessons (you’re paying for that conversation mom and dad). Teach him to be in the moment and interacting with reality and not always talking on his phone or texting someone. Don’t text in church (so rude and disrespectful). Parents, don’t be afraid to be a little counter-cultural. It never hurts your kids to have a higher standard.

  107. Suzanne says:

    My stepdaughter got a phone two years ago, when she was 11. Since then, she’s gone through at least six phones because she either breaks them, loses them, or drops them in the ocean (the most recent). She’s always texting, to the point that her grades and such suffer, but trying to restrict her usage makes her very rebellious. During July she sent over 23,000 text messages! My own kids won’t have cell phones until they’re old enough to pay for them and use them judiciously.

  108. Karen says:

    I have yet to buy my daughter a cell phone (she’s only 8), but I learned the hard way with my now-24-year-old stepson that when the time comes to buy my daughter a cell phone she will only be getting a prepaid phone. If she uses up the mom and dad minutes, then she has to buy more herself. Also, she won’t get one until at least middle school — if even then.

  109. Kristen Schiffman says:

    I’m all for teaching children responsible technology! Going against the grain here, I think texting (even if it does need to be limited) is a good tool. If for some reason a child was ever in a situation where a phone call would be dangerous, a text could really come in handy.
    And do they still make cell phones without cameras? ; ) lol.

  110. Candace (Mama Mia) says:

    My oldest is only 5 – so thankfully we’re no where near this yet, but I think that instead of a general age you just have to go by the maturity of your child. I’ll throw in my 2 cents about pre-paid- I have a Tracfone for my personal use and I love it. No surprise bills, I know exactly how long I can talk and when my minutes expire. Plus they’re usually running pretty good promotions to get more minutes.

  111. Goslyn says:

    I think a lot of this discussion intersects with your rules on technology in general. Is your 10-year-old allowed to chat online? Does he have a blog?
    My concern with giving a phone to such a young child would be the ability of the technology to be used in a way that would hurt your child. Cyber-bullying applies to texting too. Gretchen’s point about “sexting” is completely valid. I don’t know anyone who texts – teens or adults – who does not send inappropriate text messages. (I myself don’t text, and had texting turned off from my phone after receiving one such message from someone I considered a friend.) I’m not saying your sweet son would send such messages, but he will be sure to receive them.
    Perhaps a no-frills, prepaid phone with limited calling – something like a Firefly phone or other phone that you can CLOSELY monitor – may be a safer bet if you really want to give him a phone.

  112. Lisa@take90west says:

    Good luck with this decision, Mom! It is on ongoing topic of conversation in our house too around holidays and birthdays, but we have finally made a decision and the kids seem to be handling it well.
    My oldest are 9 and 10, 4th and 5th grade girls. 5th grade is the last year at their elementary school and next year the oldest will be off to middle school. We decided each child could have a phone when they begin sixth grade. It seems like in middle school they are involved in more things/activities at school and need to be picked up more often rather than riding the bus, also they have dances (A WHOLE OTHER TOPIC!!) so I think for those reasons a phone will be appropriate. In sixth grade, I definately see the beginnings of them being away from us more. Right now, as fourth and fifth graders, my old fashioned argument still holds true… Where do they go without me? Nowhere!!
    Looking forward to reading the comments on this!

  113. owlhaven says:

    We have chosen to wait til our kids are driving age. Granted, we home school, and that keeps our younger ones closer to us, and less in need of communication to arrange pickup from school, etc. If my kids were away from me large chunks of each day, I might feel differently.
    But there is something to be said for saving some privileges for older ages. This gives kids something to look forward to. They don’t assume they’re entitled to things. And it makes them a little less likely to be gadget-dependent and always focused on the next new thing.
    Mary, mom to 10

  114. Sarah says:

    I know this was mentioned at least once, but please consider the growing evidence that cell phone use is linked to brain tumors in children, who are more vulnerable than adults since their brains are still developing.
    My husband and I are in our late twenties with a third daughter on the way. We are amazed at where technology has gone in the last 10-11 years- since we graduated from high school! Parents need to be very vigilant about children using technology. Vicki Courtney (virtuousreality.com) has some great blog articles about being tech-savvy with children. My husband used to build computers for fun, and loves new technology, so he is pretty confident that he will be able to keep ahead of our children in this area, since he actually understands how things work.
    It is a worrying matter when parents are technologically clueless, and then feel pressured by their children to not get behind the times. Um, did it really take any of y’all that long to grasp computer skills once required?
    It sounds like your son really wants this, but I would be concerned about why. It seems like it would be an easier thing to wait a couple of years than instead to have to take away the phone down the line.
    As my close friend tells me- children (talking about our toddlers, but it still applies!) have not much else going on in their minds except how to get their own way, whereas you have a million things going on in yours, so don’t let them beat you down:)
    I’m interested to hear how you handle this.

  115. Rainy @ More Gravy says:

    A 9 or 10-year-old probably doesn’t really need a cell phone but when I was 9 or 10 we got our first Atari. We got the first VCR in the neighborhood. When I was 11 my parents gave me a walkman which was the cool thing. I didn’t need any of that stuff. But it was great!
    Those things made me feel like my parents trusted me, and once we got them the mystery was kind of gone and became a responsibility. Instead of thinking of when *we* got cell phones, consider when your parents trusted you with the current technology and how you regarded that trust and responsibility. HTH!!

  116. Mary says:

    My oldest is almost 2 and my youngest is 2 months away from being born, so from a parent’s perspective I’m not there yet, thank goodness. But, I did teach middle school for 7 years before having my son and I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with Terra’s comment above. You have to teach technology and teach it early, just like you teach good manners and responsibility.
    Sticking your head in the sand and acting like kids shouldn’t text and kids shouldn’t use the Internet on their phones is just not reality. While teaching, I saw a huge difference b/t the kids who had been taught responsible use of tech. and those whose parents were refusing to believe their kids were old enough to use it. HUGE difference. Believe me, they find a way around parents’ rules. (I found that many use friend’s phones.) That is why I think it’s so important to expose them early and teach them right from wrong (as it pertains to technology) while they are still young enough to listen.
    I personally think 10 is a good age to introduce cell phones. Like someone said earlier, start out strictly and get easier on him as you see his responsibility grow. And I guess be ready to yank it back when you see the need. (What a great consequence for bad behavior!)

  117. Blue Castle says:

    I’m just trying to wrap my head around the idea of a 10 year old having a cell phone.
    My oldest is 8, so a couple years younger, but there’s just no way I would put a cell phone in his hands.
    Then, again, we don’t have the need that maybe you do. Being homeschoolers doesn’t give us time away and the need to get ahold of us.
    I know there are some great plans out there and even some phones where you program in the numbers they’re allowed to call, etc. So, it might be a good idea and work well for you and your kid.
    Our society is just so technologically advanced, sometimes I think we see things as “needs” that really are “wants” and in fact, we’d be better off without them. But, again, I’m speaking as someone who has only owned a cell phone for the last year. My husband and I refused to get one until a medical emergency created a need, and now we are glad to have it for long car trips, etc. We don’t use it for much more than that, though.

  118. Amy says:

    My son is only 7 years old… still too young for a cell phone. That being said, my hubby and I have already started talking about the issue.
    Many of our friends have older children. After talking with them about the issue, most have come to the same conclusion… The love the fact that they can get in touch with their children. They love the fact that their kids can call them in the event of an emergency. They love having an additional privilege to take away in the event of some misbehaving.
    The only regret they have is that they don’t feel like they know all of their children’s friends. The friends call the cell phone, not the house. This was something I hadn’t even considered before.

  119. Steffj89 says:

    We hsve had this conversation many times as well. Our boys are still way too young at 4 and 5 and on the way…LOL but I want to be prepared. It annoys me to see 7 year olds with cell phones. Remember when pagers came out? They were for Drs and people who really NEEDED to be in touch and then cell phones came along…I seem to be in the middle here with most people I have had one since the early 90’s started with a second generation…it wasnt a bag phone, but it had to be plugged in to use it and weighed a ton…If someone had told me back then that I would eventually carry a phone that fit easily in my back pocket and had more memory than the first 4 computers I owned I would have laughed my butt off.
    I digress however from the actual topic. My 5 year old was terribly disappointed to find out that my old razr wouldnt work even long enough for him to call his daddy. We havent set an age yet, but living as far out in the country as we do I do think it will be a necessity more than a choice when the time comes. Right now I am saying when he moves up from the grade school to the middle school will likely be the point that does it for me. By the same token I am torn, the boys are not quite 10 months apart, how do I let one and not the other????
    We are adding a home computer for the two of them in the living room this winter.
    When the time comes I believe I will have them check the phones in at bedtime and they may retrieve them in the morning. They will also be checked in either with me or with another responsible adult when going to things like church youth group etc.
    There are many privilidges they will be allowed with consequences spelled out equally. They will not be allowed more than the most limited texting, private ringtones, unlimited access to anything…
    And i agree with the prior poster who noted if some girl wanted ot call her son she needed to sweat out what his dad would say…in our house it will be that she needs to sweat out what mom will say cause I will guarantee I will completely discourage my boys from being involved with aggressive or boy crazy girls….
    hubby on the other hand will be offended permanently if they arent chased often…LOL
    All of that said, you live in a completely different situation than we do. You are in a city environment, you are closer to the activities they are involved in, BUT in some ways its more dangerous or an emergency is more likely to evolve where you are. Its 20 miles to town for us, my boys arent likely to go to movies with friends etc, without us “meeting” the other parents there because we all live so far out.
    at 10 or 11 when I was growing up we lived in OKC and I was allowed to be dropped off at the movies and to ride my bike the 6 blocks to the shopping center…I think it would have been a good thing for us to have had in some ways…additionally, when we did those things there were pay phones EVERYWHERE, every store, the theater, restaraunts…I got stuck in Tulsa recently and my cell phone went down…I had to hunt for 30 minutes to find a pay phone….that isnt an option to me for a kid….
    Steff

  120. Erin says:

    Wow…this is a tough topic! I’m 24…so cell phones were just becoming popular back when I was about 15 or 16. They were big and bulky…I remember mine had a green background with black text…nothing special–and service was horrible! I barely used it because it never seemed to work. I never really NEEDED to use it anyway…
    I honestly don’t know what the right “age” is for someone to have a cell phone. I remember back when I was younger and didn’t have one, and I was perfectly fine. But these days, cell phones are such an important part in most peoples lives…it’s quite sad actually! That feeling of panic when you realize you don’t have your phone with you. How did it ever come to this anyway!?
    Kids are different these days than they were 10 years ago…even 5 years ago! I don’t have kids yet, so by the time I do–who KNOWS what the latest and greatest technology will be…kind of scary to think about!!
    Good luck with your decision! keep us posted! πŸ™‚

  121. Stacy says:

    Our son got a Blackberry when he was 8 and it’s been wonderful. In our defense, since it does sound ridiculous that an 8 y/o has a Blackberry, he is a Type I diabetic and I wanted a phone that would be easy to use, have GPS locaters and have different nerdy programs for him/us to use. I don’t know that he’d have had one so early without his health issues (this way he can always reach us if he’s playing with a friend and starts to feel bad – autonomy, but safely). He’s a tech nerd like his Dad so I know he’d have had one by 10 though. IMO, each kid is different. My son is responsible enough at 8 to have an expensive phone and not misuse it… whereas ME at 8 would have already had a huge bill and lost it a dozen times.
    We did disable his ability to surf the net on it, but it has texting and messenger. I’ve programmed all the numbers and speed dials and he can’t change or add without talking to us first. It’s been nothing but a help for us. It’s fun for the grandparents to call him directly too. Once I disciplined him for something and he called my Mom from his phone to ask if she could talk to me about ‘a more reasonable punishment’. He’s a silly monkey.

  122. Queen of the Click says:

    I’m a middle school teacher and most of my 11 year old students have them. Many students got them over the summer as the middle school is a bit further away from their homes. They are allowed to be in their bags, but turned off.
    Cell phone technology and texting is a whole area of technology that preteens enjoy. It’s a way of socializing in 2008, like we did over the phone years ago.
    Some children are better at monitoring themselves than others. I have one student who had a cell phone bill of $270 because of texting. I think parents need to let their children know what limits they have on using cell/texting (just as our parents yelled for us to get off the phone).
    Many parents have learned that they have good leverage when they say, “I’m going to take your cell away.” Some feel they can’t take the cell away because that is how they keep connected to their kids while they aren’t home.
    Question: Will your older son be upset if his younger brother gets a phone too? I mean maybe your older son didn’t ask because he didn’t want to trouble you with it or the expense. A cell phone could be a right of passage if you aren’t ready for your younger one to have one.

  123. Gwyn says:

    As far as age, I don’t think my 10 yr old is ready for the responsibility. She can’t keep track of her shoes, much less a phone!
    But if I did let her get one, I think a phone like the Firefly is the way to go. The way I understand it is that you pre-program numbers that can be called and those are the only ones that can be called or something like that.
    I personally think I’ll wait until 12 at least…..

  124. Ruthanne (in Seattle) says:

    I have read some comments, but not all of them so forgive me if I’m repeating. . . I have two daughters 18 (college freshman) and nearly 17 (high school jr.) They each got a phone when they were starting high school (9th grade). We felt it was necessary as I was starting to work outside the home and they were needing to be more independent in getting places, having a key and getting in the house more often, etc. I got a cell phone at the same time as my children and for the most part, for the same reasons – so I could be in touch with them more easily. I would say – figure out what the family needs are. Cell phones today are used as “accoutrements” for middle/high school some grade school kids. What kind of phone, what can it do, what color, etc. The kids are interested in having many contacts/friends and texting is the main way they connect with each other. Know that texting will be the primary way your kids will use the phone with their friends. I would discourage getting one just because someone is responsible enough, or because the friends have one and he/she doesn’t. If your kids are going to be away from you more and you want to be able to contact them (and vice versa) then a phone is a way to do that. Best wishes and wisdom!

  125. Giyen says:

    Defer cell phones as long as possible. Really. My daughter got a cell phone when she went into middle school only because she commutes to an island to go to school (long story). If it were not for that situation, I would TOTALLY wait to get a cell phone. All these middle schoolers are attached to these phones like they are appendages of their bodies. If you do decide, here are some tips:
    1) Splurge on unlimited text messaging. Forget the minutes, kids text and rarely talk.
    2) Do not let your kid take the phone in the bedroom. We keep ours in the kitchen to charge over night. My daughter gets text messages at 1 am sometimes.
    3) Be clear about downloads. Kids want those nifty ringtones and sometimes will ignore the fact that they cost money.
    4) Write out a contract ahead of time and post in their room. Even better yet, make him memorize it.
    Hope this helps! πŸ™‚

  126. Erin says:

    We are planning to get our daughter one when she is 11 because I work in a different school district than she will attend in middle school. She will need to walk from the bus stop to our house and I want her to have a cell to be able to call us if there is an emergency. We are going to go with the bare bones, pre-paid kind of deal you described. I think if he can be responsible with it, go for it! πŸ˜‰

  127. Traci says:

    I am going to wait until my kids are driving, especially so they can reach us if the car were to break down or something. Even though at 12 and 14 they thing they are the only kids without a cellphone, I just don’t see the need. They are either at school, church, or with us so no need to add an extra expense. My friend’s 13 year old daughter had thousands of texts in one month and her phone rings constantly. It’s annoying.

  128. Richael says:

    I’m probably the least qualified to comment on this (my oldest is 4), but I’ve given it some thought and I think it’s like everything else in our lives. I’m pretty sure we both agree our purpose is to glorify God (bear with me, I promise not to preach :). I’d simply answer the question, “Will this bring glory to God, or better yet, Will this bring dishonor to God?” I’d try to figure out “Why” he wants/needs one…will it bring arguments in the family because he has one and others don’t…is it simply so he can fit in with his friends…will it provide yet another subject of discourse between parent and child? If there are times when he needs one, I liked the idea of having a “family phone”, one where Mom and Dad are the owners, but it’s available when needed. It’s a great question, one which has truly given me reason to ponder all day. Thanks for posting it!

  129. Catrina says:

    I am not a parent, so I have little advice to give. However, my mom works for T-mobile and they have a great plan that is completely customizable. You can set all kinds of limits. You choose how many minuets each phone has and when they use all of them you can make it so that they can only make calls to you or no calls at all. There are so many different, cool things you can do with it. I don’t know if it is on the website but I am sure if you called they could tell you all about it. My mom said its perfect for kids because the parent is completely in control of everything about it, but the kid still gets the phone learns the responsibility and management of it.

  130. Martha says:

    Oh, is this a hot topic at our house. I will have to spend some time reading all the responses.
    I read a parenting book on time and they suggested no earlier than 14. Part of their reasoning was by giving your child a cell phone it keeps the child dependent on the parent. The child gets in a sticky situation and immediately calls home for help versus trying to figure out on their own what to do or to learn how to deal with other adults in order to get help. The author gave a ridiculous example of a child flipping over in a canoe on a river trip, and instead of figuring out what to do on their own, the kid pulls out a cell phone and calls home and asks his mom what to do. Never going to happen, but it makes you think. As much as you don’t want your kids “talking to strangers,” at some point they are going to have to, and they are going to have to determine who is “good” and “evil” They need to learn to deal with others and learn to handle things on their own. Otherwise, they will be 25 yrs. old and still calling home for help.
    Lots of my 11 yr. old daughter’s friends got phones this past year (she did not), a lot of parents said the phones got used for about 2 weeks and now just sit. The thrill is gone.
    I say wait. He’ll survive without it.

  131. Beth @ A Quest for Relevance says:

    My oldest didn’t get one until he turned 14. It’s a prepay or pay-as-you-go, whatever type thing. A few months ago he ran out of minutes.
    So what happened?
    He just didn’t have a cell for a while. He has money, and he chose not to spend it on cell phone minutes. I was proud of him, because I thought he acted responsibly.
    As it turned out, I was the one who decided to put more minutes on it. I had gotten used to his availability with it, and when he was involved in sports, I wanted him to have it back.
    I’m such a sucker πŸ™‚
    But seriously, this has worked out great for us so far.

  132. Laurie says:

    All three of my children have cell phones. They aren’t very old, but we have a specific reason for needing cells. We dropped our landline recently, and switched to all cellphones. My youngest is 11, and so they are able to stay home alone, and we just didn’t want them home alone with no way to call for help if the need be. They are not required to pay for their phones because it’s a necessity, but donations help! πŸ˜‰

  133. Anissa@Hope4Peyton says:

    I have a 10 yo son asking for the same thing. I just did a review on Kajeet phone service and am now seriously considering it. BIG time on the safety features and totally manageable by you. Ridiculous amounts of control so nothing goes overboard.

  134. Vicky says:

    No idea on ages…
    But (and this may have already been mentioned), they have cell phones that you can set to only be able to call 3-4 #s. So, you could put in your home, cell, dad’s cell, and dad’s work or something.
    Also… I read on Raising Five that her kids’ cells are charged each night in a main area (kitchen or something) and have to be on the charger by a certain time. This prevents late night chats with friends.

  135. Brittney says:

    I do not have children, but I do have significantly younger siblings. I am 21, with a 10 year old brother and 5 year old sister. My brother has asked for a phone for over a year now and I have talked to my parents about this being my gift for him. Pre paid of course. He would have to manage minutes and earn new ones from me of course since I bought it for him. He would not be able to take it to school, just when he is not at home or on camping trips.

  136. Whitney @ Baby Tunnel Exodus says:

    My son is 9 and I gave him a cell phone last month. He hadn’t asked for one; I wanted him to have it. He has Aspergers (high functioning autism); I wanted him to be able to reach me anywhere at any time. He is not allowed to play with the games/ camera because “it’s not a toy.” He keeps it in his backpack, not his pocket, and we charge it as needed. He got a kick out of calling family members, but for both of us, it’s just another tool in his toolbox. It makes Me feel better to know I can always reach him too. Plus, God forbid he ever got lost, missed a buss, etc., his first line of defense could be his parents, not a stranger.
    Do whatever you know is best for Your child; I don’t think there’s a one size fits all answer.
    Blessings, Whitney

  137. Julie says:

    Funny – my oldest is 5 (FIVE!) and that’s what she wants for Christmas too. Luckily I think it’s quite an easy decision at this age – took me about 2 seconds to say No! – (although her same-aged BFF has one.)
    Anyway, I’m a little panic-stricken about the whole idea – good thing I’ve got a while to adjust. Thanks for the topic and the comments.

  138. cutiepiescustomcreations says:

    What an interesting discussion! My oldest is just about to turn 6 so I am hoping I do not have to deal with this til high school..(yeah right!) LOL. I havent tackled this mountain yet, so I can’t really say what I will do when the time comes. I am another never had a cell til after I was married—gasp!!! And I still rarely use it. Neither my husband or I text. This is one of those things that I really wish wasnt such a reality in today’s world…sigh.

  139. Natalie says:

    Back in the good old days of the 1990’s, my 1st cell phone was a phone that I shared with my mom. I was 15. I would take it to events where I would be alone with friends and she would have to pick me up later like ball games, movies, etc. I could call if something happen or I needed her. I got my own cell phone at 16 when I started driving. I had to pay any overages out of my allowance. This only happened once.

  140. Ruth says:

    Just so you know…
    My husband works with electromagnetic design software. It is proven that cell phones give off radiation that it dangerous to the brain. Just how dangerous has yet to be determined, but it is believed that it is particularly dangerous for children, and can contribute to brain cancer.
    If you get your children phones, you should strictly limit how much time they spend talking on them, for their health and safety.

  141. Jenn says:

    I think it depends on the child. Our oldest received one in her freshman year when she started on the track team. It was a necessity. But she’s also been very responsible. Our youngest is a computer hound and a shopaholic, obsessive actually. She is a sophomore and still does not have a phone (and we constantly hear about it). She will probably get a hand-me-down or a pay-in-advance version so that we can limit it’s use….Just planning for the inevitable. I say hold off as long as you can and milk it for all it’s worth. πŸ™‚

  142. Mrs. Bick says:

    Can of worms. Lid off. Worms everywhere.
    I know I will NOT be the popular parent, but at least my husband and I are on the same page on this topic (most topics, actually… don’t get me going on training wheels, though!)
    Our children will not be getting a cell phone before they are 16. And then if they can pay for it. All of it. And can demonstrate good judgement and be responsible. Their phones will be a priveledge, because until they turn 18 and/or no longer live under my roof, I am responsible for them, and their actions.
    As a teacher, I have to say there is so many problems coming up with cell phones in schools… and texting is the least of problems. How about parents calling their children in the middle of the day to chat? Or cheating? Or undermining the authority of school officials to provide an adequate, undisturbed learning environment.
    Been on a campus lately? Kids literally walk, texting, reading emails, whatever… this group of kids will have difficulty with certain face-to-face interaction skills (and spelling, I suspect).
    Sorry. How did that soap box get there?!

  143. Maria says:

    I was 24 when I got my first phone (I’m 27 now…) I still lived at home and there was no need for one…my sisters had phones and I was rarely without them. I only got the phone b/c my brother worked for Sprint at the time and got me an awesome deal. Mom used to joke that I should have waited to get the phone until I was serious about a guy and then make sure our phones were compatable! (I didnt tell her til MUCH later that the first month my hubby and I were dating that his bill was over $500!!)
    I have 4 brothers…2 have phones, 2 dont. The 21 and 17 year old do and the 14 and 12 year old dont. My parents did not want the 17 year old to get one…he snuck to WalMart and bought a pre-paid. I know this is a very drastic case…but he had texting. That’s how he talked to his girlfriend…she sent him a text saying she was gonna go out on a date with another guy….my brother attempted suicide. This is a girl he would not have any contact with outside of work if not for that cell phone. B/c of the attempt he’s messed up the plans he had for his life. He wanted to join the military, and now cant.
    The younger 2 brothers ask Mom for a cell and she tells them that when SHE gets a phone then they’ll talk (Mom hates cells phones)
    I know I sound like I’m against them…but you know your child better than anyone else. Personally…I’m glad my son is only 5 months old and I dont have to worry about it for a very long time (or ever…who knows what will be out when he’s older…)

  144. Catherine says:

    I have two kids. For the last six months they have shared a “pre paid” phone that had a bad screen. Basically the only thing they could do was dial out to get us. So For Christmas because they have been responsible, we purchased them both (ten year old girl, eleven year old boy) their own pre-paid cell phones. They cost $20 at Wal Mart and are T-mobile, We put $100 in air time. The reason we did $100 was w/ T-mible, you can keep the minutes for one year once you purchase a combined total of $100.
    So one way to see if they are ready to be added to my cell plan, is to give them these…if they do good for one year, then I will give them a real phone with real text messaging too…but prove to me on a phone that i’m not going to die from a $600 bill!!! πŸ™‚
    Catherine

  145. amy says:

    I’m concerned about my twelve-year-old boy having a phone because I will lose control over who’s calling him, what they’re texting him, what photos might be appearing on the phone, etc. It’s not your son you need to worry about. It’s his peers who don’t have enough parental supervision of their own!

  146. Dayna says:

    We plan to let our oldest have a phone with a very limited plan when she is in middle school. She’s now 10. At one time, I thought 16 was young enough, but then my friend’s nephews, 10 and 8 were in a horrible school bus accident. Fortunately, the oldest had a phone and was able to contact his mother immediately. He was terrified and unable to find his brother. Once I thought about how much time they spend away from me, it made sense to make sure they had some method of communication. As for who will pay for it, we haven’t come to that conclusion yet.

  147. Jerri says:

    I say no. I see no need for a kid who’s not old enough to drive to have a cell phone. I think we should make the kids be kids, which means teaching them that cell phones are a tool that adults use. If kids want to talk on the phone, they can use the house phone. That’s more safe anyway and helps you to stay more informed about who your kids are talking to.
    And I think we all need to teach kids that there’s more to life than texting & instant messaging and video games, and we need to encourage them to cut down on the texting and the internet stuff and focus on other forms of communicating, such as actual conversation, and maybe even the stoneage practices of reading & writing.
    I think 15 or 16 is a good age to have a phone. And even then I think strict guidelines and limitations and heavy monitoring should be placed on all teenagers that have a phones. But anything under 15, I think, is just too young.

  148. The Glamorous Life says:

    My son is 10. And we are doing it for Christmas. He has had to get 3 A+ on Math tests in a ROW. To even earn this privelege. And I told him it is totally tied into his grades. If they slip- the phone gets shelved.
    He wants a phone to be cool. But I want him to have a phone to help ME out. “Honey I running late-wait with your brother inside” kinda thing.
    10 is totally old enough. Around my area-kids start getting them in Kindergarten. And NO I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING AT ALL. And yes, many of them are iphones. Insane.

  149. Nicole says:

    I hear you, sister. My 12 year old think he “needs” one too. I hadn’t considered the idea of giving them a chance to set limits and good habits before the “I know everything and you are an idiot, mom” years. But I think it still boils down to need for us. When it comes time, I think we’ll know.

  150. The Random Muse says:

    I got a phone a few weeks after I rear-ended someone, totaling my car, and had to borrow their phone to contact my parents. My two younger sisters (by 3 and 4 years) got them at the same time. I think I was 18, so they were 14 and 15. The youngest is proud of how she texted so much that my father was forced to buy the texting plan for her so as not to go broke from the bills. The middle one and I have never gone over any of our limits even though our phones have been nearly our only means of communication with the real world while we are at College.

  151. Robin ~ PENSIEVE says:

    Shannon,
    You’ve already had tons of comments, I’m sure they’ve offered great suggestions, so you might not even “need” my 2 cents, but I thought I’d chime in just the same.
    Interesting that it’s your second child who is begging for one; the same was true for us. We had “always said” we’d allow cells when our kids were driving, and our daughter asked for one for her 15th bday; just before she started high school. That sounded like perfect, reasonable timing. We bought the phone and she pays for her monthly minutes with babysitting money.
    My son, another story. He began asking in 6th grade; we held out. We already had experience watching kids at school (or at the mall or ANYWHERE kids congregate in packs): They walk around texting! At games, they text, in the car, WHEREVER, and while they’re more connected than ever, true relationship is elusive.
    We agreed to a phone for my son for his 14th birthday (right before entering 8th grade). I thought we weren’t going to let him get texting, but b/c he had earned money to pay for it, my husband agreed when they purchased the phone.
    The first month he went 500 TEXTS OVER HIS LIMIT. Thankfully (for my son, so he could LIVE), I have a friend who works for Verizon who temporarily changed our plan to unlimited for him for $5 instead of the $100 it would have cost!). Thing is, it wasn’t my son’s texts, it was the hundreds his friends sent when they found out he had a phone!
    Sooooo, all this said to preface my advice and to share different thoughts I didn’t hear in your post or in the few comments I scanned:
    a) ALL PARENTS need to understand their child enters a new world with a phone; you won’t hear conversations they’re having and it affords them a new freedom.
    b) If I had it to do over again (it’s just so dang hard to put that cat back in the bag!) I would NOT allow texting!!! EVEN if they can pay for it! If you do, I’d require a “no erase” policy. My kids know I can pick up their phone at any time for a “check”, and I can judge if they’re erasing by watching it online. When I’ve checked, mostly it’s silly one liners–KIDS ALWAYS HAVE TO HAVE THE LAST WORD, so they’ll go back and forth a few times with one-word texts…crazy!
    c) I like the idea of pre-paids better than the other….
    d) Convenience for the parent isn’t always the BEST thing for the child, even when the child is arguing otherwise.
    Personally, I do think 10 is young, regardless of maturity :). You’ve gotta temper that thought with understanding we held out a long time, and my 14 y o WAS one of the last kids in his glass to get one.
    We were famous…or rather, INFAMOUS ;).

  152. Rona says:

    Our son received his first cellphone at 11 years old. It’s a prepaid phone.
    These days, he’s all about texting so we did switch to Cricket. For only $35 a month he has unlimited texting.

  153. patois says:

    When each child started walking home alone from school, they got a cell phone. (Hey, it’s not that far a walk and I was following behind with younger kids, so don’t panic about my poor parenting kids.) So they were in fourth grade. The phones were free and the addition to our bill was $5 per month. Now, with a middle schooler, we’re paying an additional $10 for his phone per month for unlimited texting. He doesn’t contribute anything, per se, although we haven’t raised his allowance, so he actually is.

  154. alisha Brodrick says:

    working for a cell phone company comes in hand and i just though you might like to know that you can have the internet blocked on the phones to where they can’t have access… And I think the pre paid is the best way to go…. just me personally!!!

  155. Erica says:

    I’m not a big fan of the cell phones as kids thing. As a teacher I see 4th graders with nicer phones than mine, though, so I know not everyone shares my views. If I were to purchase a cell phone for my child at that age, I would purchase one of the ones with pre-set phone numbers. They have like five buttons that you can set up phone numbers for: maybe one for dad, one for mom, one for 911, one for grandma and grandpa, and one for nearby neighbor or other relative. The kids may think it’s lame, but they’re young and don’t need to be calling their best friends without my knowledge. They can call family for fun or for emergencies, though, all they want. That’s my view…

  156. Erin Craig says:

    Maybe I am not the most qualified to answer because my son/daughter is only 19 weeks in the womb; but I have several nieces and nephews about the same age. I think it is really silly! No offense to anyone but I just don’t see how a child really needs one. My husband and I have talked about this subject and we agree that when our kid is old enough to be driving they can get one. They will also help pay for it. I would want my teenage driver to have a phone in case of emergencies while driving. But a child younger than that just shouldn’t be many places without an adult in close proximity who probably has a phone they could use. I think with a phone at home and the internet a child that age has plenty to keep in contact with friends. I think a cell phone is just one more device to encourage them to be out of the family circle too often.

  157. Nicole Gunn says:

    I would wait as long as you can. Your child’s brain is still growing. Now days you have to be careful about kid’s growing brains and the bad EMF that phones emit. Just saying is all. Be careful. I have a biopro cell chip on my phone that protects me. I feel so much better about using my phone now.

  158. Headless Mom says:

    Before my girl got her own (her mother pays for it…gah! whole.other.issue.) She would take mine if needed. Our rule was not until you’re 16 and were driving, but her mom got her one at 15. I had to take it away from her for a while at bed time so she would go to sleep instead of calling/texting friends. We also have a rule that it’s not allowed at the dinner table-for a while she would sit looking at her lap the entire time-rude! IMO, I keep pretty tight tabs on my kids so there is no reason to have one until they have more freedom. The boys are 9 and 7 and not really asking for one yet. Will I change my mind? I doubt it. I hate cell phones, rarely use my own, and hate it when people are rude about usage (ie, walking through a store gabbing away, ignoring all those around them, taking calls in the middle of a conversation or meal, talking while driving, etc.) /rant.

  159. Beth says:

    My kids will definitely not get cell phones before they have driver’s licenses. Before that they will be with a parent or other adult, or at least in a building with access to a phone, pretty much all the time, so there is no need for a cell phone. I personally have a pre-paid cell phone which I use only for emergencies/traveling – I don’t think the expense is worthwhile for anything more. Once my daughter is old enough to drive, I might get an extra cell phone which I would give her only when she is going to be driving by herself. Maybe we would keep it in the car. This would be only for emergencies, and I would give strict instructions that it is not to be used for calling friends/texting/etc. without prior permission.
    In particular, I don’t think kids/teenagers who attend public or private school should be allowed to take cell phones with them. It may seem to convenient for them to be able to call home easily, but they can easily use a school pay phone or office phone for this purpose. Having been a high school teacher, I know how much trouble cell phones can be in the classroom. I have also seen a lot of peer pressure related to cell phone use in school, and it’s probably better to avoid this. Teach responsible, limited cell phone use outside of school first, and be sure you can trust your child to obey your instructions in the face of peer pressure before letting the cell phone go to school.

  160. sarah says:

    when i was 10, i was catching two buses to school each day – about 45minutes or more each way – on my own. with no familiar adults or other children from my school. a mobile (cell phone) would have been handy for days when the bus drivers were idiots and wouldnt let me on, and i was stranded half way to school with no way to get either to school, or back home again.
    i got a mobile when i was 16 and catching 2 buses and a train to and from school every day – over an hour and a half each way – and often staying after school hours for extra work. so i could call home and mum wouldnt panic when i was more than 15minutes late. it came in very very handy. but i was on a very basic plan. my parents paid for it, but at $9/month it was worth it to them for me to be safe.
    if he’s out a lot on his own, a phone can be good for safety reasons, but if hes never out of adult supervision, does he need one? whats the point? a basic plan or a pre-paid may be worth it, but honestly, most ten year olds arent going to be in a situation where they do need it. hopefully.

  161. sarah says:

    oh and no matter how much my kids (now 4yrs and -2 months) beg and plead and insist they are the ONLY kids who dont have one, and tell me what a TERRIBLE mother i am for not letting them have one, they are not getting mobiles until either they can pay for it, or they are in a situation (like my bus-to-school-thing) where their safety and my piece of mind outways the cost to me. and then it will be a basic phone that does nothing more than make calls. if such things still exist by then.

  162. Diane Mc says:

    My three oldest kids got cell phones upon graduation from high school, but with my youngest – the coordination of rides from school was more complicated and we needed to be able to reach him at after school practices and such. We discovered Virgin Mobile phones, I got one first and used it for about a year before we got him one. It costs only about $5 a month (you have to buy at least $15 of minutes every three months – but they do keep). As long as they don’t talk too much, it is great, and texts are only 5 cents each. (the phone is cheap and plastic and white, but I don’t care – my older kids say its junk).

  163. Rechelle says:

    Uh… The CD and I just had a discussion about this very thing. Our eldest has a phone, I have a phone and the CD who actually needs a phone… has a phone. For these silly phones that none of us really needs except for my husband, we pay $1500.00 a year. That seems pretty ridiculous. I think we are going to get rid of at least one of our phones very soon. Me and the kids can share a phone. Really – don’t look at it as a monthly charge, add up that year and then think what else you could do with that cash. I am thinking plane tickets… a new computer… a few nights at a nice hotel… etc…etc…

  164. Samantha says:

    When I was a pre-teen / teenager, there were pay phones everywhere or people would let you use their land lines. That isn’t the case any more, so cell phones have become much more necessary. Our son is in middle school now and is going to more and more church and school functions without us. I’m starting to see where having a phone for him to use would be helpful so I could reach him or he could reach me. Social situations can be difficult for him and I like the idea of him having a way to reach me to signal that he needs a way out without the embarassment of having to borrow a phone and have his conversation overheard. So I’ve been entertaining the idea of getting a third phone on our plan to hand out on occasions when he might need it. It wouldn’t be “his” phone and he would have to reserve it for communicating with us. He’s 11, for reference. Now I just have to convince his father… πŸ™‚

  165. Michelle says:

    Our oldest son just got his first cell phone 8 days ago. He just turned 15 on Sunday. Until this year we really didn’t have a need for him to have a cell phone, if he wanted to talk with his friends he had our home phone and when he wasn’t with us he was with another responsible adult or near a phone. I’m a early 30’s mom and it wasn’t that long ago that I traveled across the country by myself with 2 small children and no cell phone, I don’t buyy into the need for a cell for safety.
    Long story short, we bought him the phone and he pays the $10 a month add on to our cell phone plan. He’s responsible and is already saving to purchase the insurance on his phone. He’ll have to track his minutes and if he goes over he pays… he also is old enough to work and looks like he’ll start his first job this month! I think you have to decide what works best for your family and your child.

  166. Amy says:

    Considering surprise bills and a lost phone are good things but I would be thinking more about just who your 10 year old would be texting and calling? It is my opinion that 10 is too young for a cell phone. Let your kids stay kids for as long as possible. They will thank you later πŸ™‚

  167. Sandi says:

    I had friends who gave their 10yo a phone. She was homeschooled, and an only child so mom was always around, so I really didn’t understand the need for one. But it wasn’t my kid.
    My son started asking for one probably around 10 as well. Nope, nope, nope. Then he got to middle school, and had a lot of after school activities. Except the school phones weren’t accessible after school, and even though he could sometimes borrow a phone to call me, that left me with no way to reach HIM. So even though he was still 11, I decreed he could have a phone when he turned 13 as a ‘rite of passage’. He stopped pestering me about it, but I knew he was counting down the days!
    I signed up for the lowest family plan and it never crossed my mind to make him pay for it. He’s kept good care of the phone and never misplaced it. I know my kid and he’s not a big phone talker even though he’ll talk your ear off in person. Vice versa, he won’t ever check his email but a text gets read pretty quickly, so I got the unlimited plan. He’s always been conscientious about usage. In the 14 months he’s had a phone, the only time we exceeded our minutes (or even used more than 1/3!) was on vacation and he used the phone to hook up the laptop to the internet. He had permission, I just didn’t realize how long he was connected.
    Before he got his phone, I had sent 1 text message in my entire life. I didn’t see the point. Now, I text him daily to remind him of things he needs to ask a teacher, etc. The school policy is that phones may be used before and after school or during lunch. Use in class means confiscation. That seems reasonable.
    I did have to put the kibosh on using text abbreviations in spoken conversations. Don’t tell me you’ll BRB when UR done LOL. You’ve learned vocabulary words for 13 years, you can use them when you speak to me, thankyouverymuch.
    Goodness, I didn’t mean to write a whole book on the subject!

  168. Lizc says:

    Hubby got our son a phone when he turned 8. I thought it was ridiculous, but now I am glad for it. If I am late picking him up at school, I can call him, or if I want him to go to day care after school, I tell him to call me when he is in the day care room. We also programmed his grandma’s and aunts/uncles numbers in there and he calls them when he wants to chat and they LOVE it! He has a model that has “chaperone” feature, so we can locate it any time online. Or it can text us if it leaves predesignated boundaries. They learn to be responsible when they are this young. Its the teens you have to watch out for!!! ha ha!

  169. Anne says:

    When my older kids were in sixth and eighth grade we added a phone to our plan, and they shared it as needed, depending on who was going where… that worked for about a year, then we added another phone so they each had one. My ten year old is asking for one now. I also have an eight year old, but he has no interest yet (except to play Tetris on mine!) We’ve been discussing it. We dropped our land line long ago and have a Cox internet phone which is $20 plus a month, and can add another line for $10 on our cell so we would probably come out ahead by dropping Cox. We have unlimited texts for all of us, incoming free, free in network, and nights start at 7. Even with two teens and myself we’ve never came close to using our 1000 shared minutes. The kids text mostly, and I’m okay with that (I’m a little weirded by the health worries and would rather them text!) I looked at all the different prepaids and most require a minimum amount of minutes added periodically to keep the phone active, and I think adding $10 to our plan would be cheaper, especially if I’m going to let him use it, opposed to telling him it’s just for emergencies.
    IF we get him one, it won’t go to school with him yet.

  170. Josie says:

    I read many of the comments, but not all, so don’t know if I’m repeating anyone…
    My daughter is 11 and in 6th grade. She is one of two girls in her group of over a dozen that does not have a phone. She is allowed to call and text on our cell phone. My husband & I don’t even have our own, we share one.
    She is a very responsible girl so I don’t worry about losing or breaking a phone too much. And I don’t think she would go over minutes either. Because my husband likes to text, we have unlimited texting. That isn’t it either.
    I feel that this world moves so fast for these kids. It is too easy to quick call someone, or text them, before even thinking. I explained to her that I don’t want her to have to feel the pressure of friends texting her when they are in the middle of their own drama, expecting her immediate reply. When she had her 11th birthday slumber party extravaganza I had to decide what to do with a bunch of 10 & 11 year old girls still texting boys at 11:30 at night. The phones belonged to the girls…how could I take them away? I finally asked them to end their phone use and settle down for a movie/sleep. If they hadn’t, I don’t know what my next step would be.
    Also, since the majority of her friends have phones I know I can generally get in touch with her through one of them…although I can’t. I was in a panic once when she stayed at a friend’s house. I called to say I was on my way to pick her up but no one answered the phone. The other two girls with cell phones there, didn’t answer either. When I got there the girls were all playing outside and the friends’ phones had gone dead or were turned off. One of those girls has had her mom buy her 5 phones over the course of the last year. Either they were broken or there was just a better/cooler one out there.
    My daughter does her share of texting on our phone, and I’ll probably get another “house” phone in the next year. But I think my girl is actually relieved to be able to avoid some of the drama that instant communication can foster.
    At 8, my son asks about a phone too. About half of his friends have one. I laugh. Let me deal with your sister first.

  171. Kim says:

    I wish I could read through all the comments, as I knew this would be a very interesting discussion. My girls are 6th & 8th grade (my younger two are 5 yrs & 1 yr).
    My girls attended public school through elementary school and my oldest through 6th grade, so I know all about how they NEED a cell phone. In most cases that she tried to make for her “need” there was always a dozen more phones readily available if she needed to call. We set the mandate then for when she actually needed one, we would discuss it then.
    Since that time, we have started to homeschool, so it isn’t as much of an issue. I have left them with my phone during rehearsals for theater and such but it still hasn’t presented that much of a need.
    Here is my concern (after a lot of hot air!)…When people call here at the house (on the land line), I am aware of the person, the time of day, the time spent on the call, etc… When someone calls a child’s cell phone, that same knowledge is often unknown. Their cell number is given out and then given again without the child’s consent or knowledge. Now there are potential people calling or texting the child that you may or may not know at all.
    A very dear friend sent her son on a mission trip with a phone and after his return it soon resulted in a very difficult situation. Several girls on the trip got his number and began texting him late into night about their “desires” and while he knew it was wrong, he was placed in a position as a 13-year old boy that was very difficult.
    Eventually, he told his mother and she took the phone and the rest was history. Those explicit conversations, however are very much relevant in his young mind and heart.
    I know we cannot guard them from everything but I do believe as their parents we have such a burden to do our very best … carefully placing before them the choices and decisions that they are able to weigh and handle. Like, I don’t ask my 5-year old to watch the 1-year old, but I do ask my 13-year old to watch the 5-year old. My oldest choose their clothing but we are still trying to convince the 5-year old that soccer shorts in the dead of winter are uncomfortable.
    With age, there should come certain responsibilities. Is the phone a toy or a tool? Is it truly necessary or just a ploy for fitting in?
    I fear if the latter represents the greatest desire for a phone, then it will result in very poor decision making when the time comes.
    Thankfully, there seem to be more and more resources for adding restrictions to the phone and so when we are wading into those waters we will start very slow and shallow πŸ˜‰
    Thanks for posting things that we might not all agree on. It is this type of “one-anothering” that encourages us as mothers, wives, and followers of Christ. So many popular blogs have chosen to water down their content as to not offend the reader. It is so refreshing to come here and find such deliberate thought!
    Blessings!

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