Hold On, Mom! Gotta Take This Call!

At what age is a child old enough for a cell phone?

At what age do young kids need a cell phone? Or does a child even need a cell phone at all? These are questions that parents (and grandparents who like to give great gifts)  must decide for themselves in this age of electronics.

We must not succumb to peer pressure, just as we tell our kids. Just because every child in his sixth grade class has one, doesn’t mean that your child or grandchild has to have one, right?  But these are the dilemma of Family Life. 

I didn’t really have to decide for my daughter. When she was very young, the cell phones were not an issue. We were using cordless land lines back then and considered ourselves so “advanced” in the new electronic age. I remember answering that HUGE thing and extending the antenna. Oh my! How things have changed.

When to get Cell phone for kids

With my son, it wasn’t even a question for this worrying Mom. He was in high school and 16 years old and I was a helicopter Mom who wanted to be able to reach him when he was gone. When I watched him drive off in the car, it comforted me to know he had that phone in his jeans to call us if he broke down or was delayed at night.

But these days, my daughter and son-in-law have a whole new issue.

Young kids 9 years old and sometimes younger have cell phones! By fifth and sixth grade most kids here have a cell phone. I can see the need for a simple flip phone for when your child is out with friends and you feel like checking with them, or they possibly need to call for a ride home, or let you know that soccer practice is over early so you need to come get him.

Good luck getting any kid to opt in for a “Granny Phone.”


But I don’t really see the need for a “Smart Phone” with cameras, UNLIMITED texting, Internet access, games playing, videos….all of which is NOT a necessary part of just needing to stay in touch for an emergency. What do you think?

With that built-in GPS, that is all good when you can see where your child is at any given time, but then couldn’t they also be stalked by someone else with questionable intentions?

And are there health issues with cell phones?  I know there were stories of brain tumors etc. Just what would we be subjecting them to at such an early age? And then the ramifications of emotional health and mental issues? Will this generation of kids lose their ability to socialize face to face?

This is what I would consider my rules for cell phone for kids usage :

  1. Basic phone which calls and texts only – no smart phone, games, videos, internet access…no way!
  2. School rules must always be followed, or forfeit the phone! If you are not to have it ON in school, then don’t!
  3. If you cannot find your phone, then you are not responsible enough to have one...Forfeit!
  4. If your phone is “not charged” and that is your excuse that I can’t reach you…Forfeit..( It is YOUR responsibility to keep it charged, not mine)
  5. If I have given you permission to go out with friends and your phone is not charged, you are not going! ( see #4)
  6. When you are old enough to babysit or make money with a job, then the phone becomes your bill. Learn to budget! You’ll thank me later.
  7. No phones during meals, while driving or biking etc, or during homework. No phone after bedtime. Violators: you guessed it, forfeit.

This photo of the kid proudly displaying his phone on his hip is my grandson at about age two. He did not have cell phone usage at the time. This was Daddy’s old phone which he played with when Daddy got a new upgrade. ( Yeah, men and their upgrades! That’s a whole other rant.)

Cell phones for kids

UPDATE:  My daughter and son-in-law got him a cell phone at age 10 as a Christmas gift. It was the “big” gift for that year and the one they used for  the Christmas Clue Hunt.  And surprisingly, he has been very responsible with it.  He loses his privileges often, but when it is returned to him, he is more responsible. He listen to music and plays games. He likes to watch YouTube a lot. Must be watching Nana’s videos, right?

By the way, you better have unlimited data usage on your plan with a child. He frequently uses 70-80 Gb each month. Videos take a lot of data. You have been warned.

Which brings me to this warning: How you use your phone is how your child will use his or hers. Remember, put it away! Be with the family. Don’t use it while driving. Don’t text while driving . Set the example of how to use a cell phone by remembering that it doesn’t have to be attached to you at all times. Show them how to use it wisely and responsibly when they do have a phone.

So tell me, when do you think a child should have a cell phone?


  1. Our oldest is 10 and we are getting close to needing to make this decision. I saved my last phone from when I upgraded, so when we decide to let her have one, she will probably just get that one as it will then only cost us $10 a month. Since it is a smart phone, she will have it all, but I think it would be silly to go and buy a phone when we have one. 🙂

    The thing that stood out to me the most of what you said is that our kids will use their phones like we use ours. I’ve thought about that a lot this past year and have tried to be really careful about how much I’m on it when the kids are around. I want to make sure to set a good example and don’t want them to be on it constantly (and I shouldn’t be either).

    1. I agree, I am all for saving the money of buying another phone. And about that phone habits thing, I found myself so many times with my face stuck in the phone instead of enjoying the moment. So I have to watch that. Thanks for commenting.

  2. This is a great post. My son DOES have a smartphone, and he got it last year at 13 – BUT – he has permission to use the kindle function on it in certain classes as well as a few other programs/apps that are geared towards school. He uses the calendar to keep track of assignments, and occasionally uses the record function to make sure he doesn’t miss anything (with teacher permission of course). He has been very responsible with it and I feel more comfortable when he goes on class trips (which is why he got it in the first place).

    1. That’s a great testimony for responsible use by a young man. Good job.

  3. absolutely need to set serious ground rules on the phone issue! my kids have one now that doesn’t dial…earliest i’d do that is probably 6h grade. with LOTS OF RULES!

    1. That’s right, Nicole. Lots of rules. Kids want to have what they see grownups or other older kids have, so if we agree and get them one, rules and more rules apply.

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