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When is a Child Ready for a Cell Phone?

April 27, 2015 at 5:53 PM

selfieCellphones have created a few dilemmas in digital parenting. Particularly with smartphones, parents have to be sure what their children are doing on social media and other apps.

Let's look at the first dilemma that parents will come across: deciding when their child should have a cellphone. In this discussion, your child is sure to bring up the argument that every other kid in their class already has one.

This is a time when you have to make a personal decision for your child and ignore the pressure from other parents.WebMD covered this topic and provided a few statistics on the matter. Here is some of the background information:

  • 85% of teens aged 14 to 17 have cell phones
  • 69% of 11 to 14 years old have cell phones
  • 31% of kids aged 8 to 10 have cell phones
  • Twice as many kids had cellphones in 2010 as they did in 2004

Now it's important to remember that these statistics are from 2010. You have to consider that these numbers have probably increased and that many of the “cellphones” are now “smartphones.” Additionally, these statistics don't provide any real insight as to when parents should give their child their first phone. The averages don't give clear evidence as to what the best age is.

An article on Verizon Wireless' webpage doesn't give an exact age recommendation either – and they're the ones that want to sell that first phone. Instead, they list a few factors and questions that parents should consider before ordering a phone:

  • Will your child use the phone?
  • Does your child respect expensive things?
  • Smartphones are for smart people – if a child can't comprehend the device, why give it to him?
  • Don't be afraid to take the cell phone away
  • Monitor total screen time

Remember learning that maturity has nothing to do with age? There are probably some eights-year olds out there who might be more responsible with a cellphone than some fourteen-year olds.

Ultimately, parents have to make a decision for their own child. There will never be a standardized number that perfectly explains when every kid should have a phone.If anything, you'll probably feel when it's the right time anyway. If your child has several extra-curricular activities, then having a cellphone would make coordinating pick-up time a lot easier. In addition, you may feel safer when your child starts going to parties with a cellphone in his pocket.

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Tim Woda

Posted by Tim Woda

Tim Woda is an Internet safety expert, and a passionate advocate for empowering families and protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers. Woda was on the founding team of buySAFE, an Internet trust and safety company, and he started working on child safety issues after his son was targeted by a child predator online. While his son was unharmed, the incident led Woda to kick-start uKnow.com. You can follow Tim on Twitter or on his blog.

Topics: iPhone, Android, Mobile Phones/Apps, Devices, Cellphone Rules & Safety

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