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QOTD: Does Your Child Have a Cell Phone? Why?

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 90 comments
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You most likely remember days when the lucky kids at school were the ones with phones in their rooms. There may have been one girl or guy with their own private line and they were envied.

Nowadays, most teenagers have cell phones. However, the age at which kids start to want phones seems to be falling at an alarming rate. A friend of mine recently told me his 8-year-old can't wait to get a phone and while he isn't quite at the begging and reasoning stage, he's definitely eager to get his hands on one because several of his friends have cell phones already.

Eight is extremely young to be asking for a cell phone but it's not at all unusual for 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds to have phones. The New York Times cites a recent study that says 58 percent of 12-year-olds now have a cell phone. Safety appears to be the biggest reason for parents purchasing cell phones for kids. Whether it's camping trips with the Girl or Boy Scouts, birthday parties at bowling alleys or walking home from school with their friends, parents want to know their children can contact them if there's an emergency.

That said, there are always disagreements among parents about the right age to buy a child a phone. Some prefer to to give their son or daughter a 'house' or communal cell phone when they go away on trips. This solves the safety issues without actually having to buy them a phone. Others like the idea of the Firefly phone, a handset that can only call a handful of numbers (such as Mom, Dad, and Home).

Today's Question of the Day is: How old was your child when you bought him or her a cell phone and what made you buy it? If you don't have children, what age do you think is the right age?

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Top Comments
  • 32 Hide
    jAckyra , June 10, 2010 8:21 PM
    No kids yet, but if/when I do, I will fully support their having a cell phone as early as 'possible'. And by 'possible' I mean, whenever they can pay for it themselves.
  • 23 Hide
    Tyellock , June 10, 2010 8:17 PM
    I don't have any kids myself, but I teach teens, cell phones are the biggest distraction, even walking they are not paying attention to where they are going or what they are doing

    When I was growing up, if I wanted something, I had to earn the money myself to buy it

    I think that's the right age for anyone to get a cell phone, when they are responsible enough to get it themselves.
  • 10 Hide
    masterasia , June 10, 2010 8:37 PM
    Cell phones cause brain tumors.
Other Comments
  • -7 Hide
    dameon51 , June 10, 2010 8:12 PM
    Once my kids reach the age where they are going out with friends without parental supervision I would like them to have a phone. For me that was an very young age, but I know the times are changing. Maybe 9 or 10 years old now?
  • 23 Hide
    Tyellock , June 10, 2010 8:17 PM
    I don't have any kids myself, but I teach teens, cell phones are the biggest distraction, even walking they are not paying attention to where they are going or what they are doing

    When I was growing up, if I wanted something, I had to earn the money myself to buy it

    I think that's the right age for anyone to get a cell phone, when they are responsible enough to get it themselves.
  • -6 Hide
    drudometkin , June 10, 2010 8:19 PM
    Got one for my daughter when she was 8. Gave her my wifes old LG chocolate and added $9.99/mo to the bill. Well worth the money.
  • 6 Hide
    Onus , June 10, 2010 8:20 PM
    I don't have kids, but if I did, I agree with dameon51 that it would not be before the child would be away unsupervised, and it would be a very heavily restricted phone, only able to call limited numbers; anything more is not necessary for a CHILD, and I don't want any surprises on a monthly bill.
  • 32 Hide
    jAckyra , June 10, 2010 8:21 PM
    No kids yet, but if/when I do, I will fully support their having a cell phone as early as 'possible'. And by 'possible' I mean, whenever they can pay for it themselves.
  • 8 Hide
    HibyPrime , June 10, 2010 8:33 PM
    I'm of the camp that it's not a bad thing for a 12-13 year old to have a cellphone, provided you set 'budget' limits - meaning you can call 5 minutes during the day and 30 mins at night, and a limit of 5-10 texts a day or whatever.

    A cellphone for a kid is only bad if the parents don't be parents, just like everything else.
  • 3 Hide
    pozaks , June 10, 2010 8:37 PM
    My 8 year old wants a phone, but he's not getting one yet. He can't afford it, and he's not ready. Most of his friends have one though, and most of those are pre-paid my-first-phone type deals.

    Also the childless posters, who are letting everyone know what they think they would do, are annoying as hell. Have some kids, raise them, then let us know what decisions you made. Your speculative parenting advice is useless.
  • 10 Hide
    masterasia , June 10, 2010 8:37 PM
    Cell phones cause brain tumors.
  • 6 Hide
    turbolover22 , June 10, 2010 8:41 PM
    My 5 year old is always pretending she has a cell phone. She'll be playing in the toy room blissfully unaware that she is being watched and she'll say something like, "My boyfriend just sent me a text. He asked if I want to go on a date." She tells me all the time "Dad, we can't be BFF if you don't ...... " She even used LOL once.


    My wife and I don't even have a cell phone. For better or worse, cell phones have forever changed the way kids grow up now.
  • 6 Hide
    waylander , June 10, 2010 8:42 PM
    I have to agree, at the age when they are unsupervised (taking the bus or walking a good distance to school). Limited numbers they are allowed to call and GPS tracking enabled.
  • 7 Hide
    proxy711 , June 10, 2010 8:43 PM
    I see no reason a child or teen needs a cell phone until they start driving or have activities that make them very independent. ie they start high school, have a part time job, or after school sports etc.

    until then use the home phone. or do what my generation did once the internet was in every house hold, use AIM or whatever online IMing service you wish to use.
  • 3 Hide
    sailfish , June 10, 2010 8:44 PM
    12-15 for the Firefly phone when they're out and about with friends, 16+ for non-restrictive phone if they pay the monthly fees.
  • 2 Hide
    jonpaul37 , June 10, 2010 8:48 PM
    When i have kids, you bet they will have cell phones when they are in the double-digits but they will also be GPS'd and monitored 24x7, especially if i have a daughter. Also, they will work for it some how/some way.
  • 1 Hide
    treefrog07 , June 10, 2010 8:53 PM
    At 16, when she was allowed to drive without an adult-driver in the passenger seat. But she was not allowed to talk or text while driving - she had to pull into a parking lot. Did she do that every time she answered? I'd like to think so - she's had one accident and one ticket in her nine years of driving (she paid with money from her job).
  • 0 Hide
    dertoter , June 10, 2010 8:55 PM
    Man, i remember getting a cell phone when i was around 16 or 17 and it was ONLY because my parents wanted to keep tabs on me (little sister got her phone at a younger age, 12/13). I think it really depends on the type of family you're in because my family was super controlling growing up unless it was just against me since i was the experiment :p . Now that i'm much older i'd say that it really depends. Who knows what it will be like in the future when I have a kid. I think 8 is far too young to be honest. The firefly phones the article describes isn't that bad of an idea though just so if there's an emergency the parents could be contacted. Kids are smarter now a days though too.
  • 8 Hide
    accolite , June 10, 2010 8:55 PM
    Hell my little girl wants one at 4 years old, but there is no way she is getting one until she gets to the employable age, that way she pays for it herself.

    Until then she can play with my old cell phones all she wants.
  • 1 Hide
    HalJordan , June 10, 2010 9:01 PM
    As a parent, I don't see anything wrong with giving your child a cell phone if your concern is safety. I see it as just another tool to help you keep an eye on your kid. With that said, would my daughter get a locked down 3 or 4 year old, recycled, free with subscription, LG POS? You betcha! She can have a Smart Phone with all the bells and whistles when she pays for it! Or conversely, I may just lend her a deck of cards, and she can win what she needs from the other kids...
  • 2 Hide
    surfer1337dude , June 10, 2010 9:01 PM
    My nephew is 5 years old and has his own cell phone... Mt sister and her ex. live in 2 different states (she is the one who lives away from her son....legal battle, whole diff story) so she bought him a cell phone that can only call a couple of numbers (verizon phone, and can only call her cell/house, his fathers cell/house and certain emergency numbers).

    I got my first cell when I was 17 (incase something happened while driving to call for AAA or 911 really)
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