The right age to give kids their first cell phone is really up to parents. Age isn’t as important a kid’s maturity level, ability to follow home (and their schools’) rules, and their sense of responsibility. But when you hand your children cell phones, you’re giving them powerful communication and media-production tools. They can create text, images, and videos that can be widely distributed and uploaded to websites instantly. Parents really need to consider whether their kids are ready to use their phones responsibly and respectfully.
If you think your kids’ technological savvy is greater than their ability to use it wisely, pay attention to the gap. You may need to say, “No, not yet.”
Here are some questions to consider:
- Do your kids show a sense of responsibility, such as letting you know when they leave the house? Do they show up when they say they will?
- Do your kids tend to lose things, such as backpacks or homework folders? If so, expect they might lose an (expensive!) phone, too.
- Do your kids need to be in touch for safety reasons?
- Would having easy access to friends benefit them for social reasons?
- Do you think they’ll use cell phones responsibly — for example, not texting during class or disturbing others with their phone conversations?
- Can they adhere to limits you set for minutes talked and apps downloaded?
- Will they use text, photo, and video functions responsibly and not to embarrass or harass others?
Based on your answers, you should make your final decision.