What's the Right Age to Let Kids Have a Cell Phone?

What's the Right Age to Let Kids Have a Cell Phone?

Beth Callaghan
Sep 19, 2014
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

As my oldest child starts to navigate the waters of middle school, the perennial question resurfaces: when do we get him a cell phone? Many of his peers have had phones for years now, but our family really wants to hold out until it's absolutely necessary. So when does it become absolutely necessary?

Among my mom friends with older children, I hear stories of the "need" for cell phones beginning pretty much in middle school. In some communities, it seems the assumption that all kids have smart phones is universal; I've heard that some teachers ask the kids to use their cell phones in class for various tasks (calculator?).

A recent New York Times article, Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent, by Nick Bilton described the conservative approach of Jobs and other tech industry bigwigs to letting their own kids use tech devices...including phones.

Bilton: Although some non-tech parents I know give smartphones to children as young as 8, many who work in tech wait until their child is 14. While these teenagers can make calls and text, they are not given a data plan until 16.

So, when do you think it's appropriate to get a cell phone for a child? Will you buy a new one, give your child a hand-me-down, look for a used phone or...abstain?

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