When should a kid get their first cell phone?

Okay, my son is about to turn 7 (finishing first grade). I share custody of him with my ex-husband, but I am the primary parent.

Son has been asking me for his own cell phone for the past four months (not constantly nagging, but he asks me about it maybe every two weeks or so.

My older son didn’t get a cell phone until he was 15, when he started doing an afterschool sport and needed to call for a ride. Little son says he wants a cell phone so if he’s with his dad “and if Daddy’s busy, I can call you.” And I guess it would be the opposite, if he was with me and he wanted to call Daddy, he could. Or he could use the phone at my house, or my cell…but I digress.

Personally, I don’t think a kid that young needs a cellphone. He is with me or his dad, or his caregiver, 24/7. But, I also realize he sees everyone else with these phones and wants to be “cool”. And, he is very attached to me, and I think he gets a little lonely for me when he’s at Dad’s. I think that part of it is that he wants to be “able” to contact me if he wants to - not that he WOULD all the time, but that he CAN if he chooses (being in control).

His birthday is next month, and I’ve thought about humoring him by buying him a cheap pay-as-you-go phone, buying him 30 or 60 minutes of talk time, programming in 4-5 phone numbers, and see what happens (my suspicion is that it will either get lost, or he will lose interest when he sees it’s not fun). But I feel like I’m being an overindulgent mom by doing so. What do you all think, too young, or what the hell?

I don’t think your seven year old needs a cell phone. I suspect he sees it as a toy, and I don’t think that’s an appropriate way to treat it. If he wants to call you or your husband, I assume you have a land line.

I don’t think he NEEDS one either, and yes, wherever he is, there’s a phone he can use. That’s why I think it’s a “feeling in control” thing, or a “everyone else has one” thing.

So, when is the appropriate age? I think it’s when they’re old enough to be somewhere without direct adult supervision (say, a school basketball game or dance, sports practice, at the mall with friends) when they can have a little freedom/independence, but you still have to be in contact with them in case of emergency or to arrange a ride home.

Our 12 year old daughter claims she is the only girl in her class who does not have a cell phone. I hear this ten times a day.

I dunno about appropriate age but there are mobile phones tailor made for children such as the Firefly range.

Do you have any reason to think this isn’t so? It sounds plausible.

IMHO, No. Way.

A 7 year old? What are you thinking?

Cell phones are now *ubiquitous. * My oldest got hers at 15. My youngest at 12. (and it is true that every 12 year old in her class had/has a cell phone)

I have no more kids coming, so it is a moot point. But I can never see a need for a child to need a cell phone earlier than 12. Ever. And I wouldn’t care one bit that every other 8/9/10 year old in his class had one. (even then, its highly unlikely that most 8 year olds would have one)

They should get one when they have an actual need for one. Social networking does count as an actual need, but most kids probably don’t even do that until early high school. Just save up for another seven years and buy your son the most bad ass phone available at the time.

Does he need a cell phone? Of course not, but he doesn’t need action figures or comic books or spiderman under-roos or legos or whatever else you might get him for his birthday, and if he wants a cell phone more than anything else and it won’t be a financial hardship, why not?

You’re kidding, right?

A cell phone (and its potential) is not a comic book.

What potential? When I was a kid, we didn’t have cellphones, but no one treated access to the landline like some kind of danger-fraught activity either. Just, you know, don’t fuck around pointlessly annoying people or wasting money; same as anything else in life. Surely cellphones could be treated now exactly the same way?

The way I see it, if it would be financially burdensome, then there’s nothing wrong with holding off on giving a kid a cellphone till, say, high school. But if it would be financially manageable, then there’s nothing wrong with giving them one at a young age either.

I disagree. The child should get one when he can pay for it himself, not before. It’s a luxury, not a necessity.

I’m thinking a kid doesn’t need one until he’s old enough to be somewhere he’s not directly supervised by an adult, like at the mall with friends or at a school basketball game, but you still want to be able to contact him; PLUS shows enough responsibility and maturity to handle it properly.

But I admit I was surprised that my 7-year-old actually WANTED one - I wondered if I was the only parent who thought this was too early, or if in fact I’m an old fogey who is behind the times.

I apologize if I seemed rude. I didn’t mean it that way.

I agree with the access/security aspect.

Thats why I relented and got my daughter one.

So are birthday parties. So what? Should kids just be given gruel and a bed? If he wants it, and it wouldn’t be burdensome for you to provide it, then what’s the harm?

I’m surprised the kid really feels such a desire for a cellphone for whatever reason at his age, but whatever; I don’t see anything wrong with it.

My 12 year old daughter claimed the same thing, as did every other 12 year old in her class.

She’ll get a cell phone when she gets a job and can pay for a cell phone.

I would not be surprised if this was true. I would have thought 12 was too young, until I saw an 8-year-old with a IPHONE.

Our kids get theirs between fourth and fifth grade. They are old enough to not lose it and use it responsibly, and old enough to be roaming a little more independently. This was after I spent my time yelling through 100 acres of local park for my son, to discover him at the neighbors.

Admittedly, I don’t have kids myself, but don’t most schools ban cell phones entirely?

Yeah, but when you were a kid and given access to a landline, chances were, that you were not in a private setting.

Funny how having Mom, Dad, kid sisters, your friends’ parents, etc in the same room can keep things down to business. :stuck_out_tongue: