The list of “when should I let my child do…” seems to get longer and longer with each passing year. How old should they be before they eat solid food? Graduate to a toddler bed? Watch TV? Play video games? Walk to school alone? Get their own reality show?
But one of the biggies on the list is “How young is too young for a cell phone?” Not only is cost a factor – kids are notorious for running up minutes and texts – but there are also the issues of responsibility, privacy and dependency. Still, parents seem to be gradually weakening on the issue. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, most children don’t get their first cell until they’re 12 or 13. But younger teens are more likely to have gotten their first phone by age 10.
We can add Suri Cruise to that statistic in a few years. A photographer recently captured the 6-year-old and mom Katie Holmes sitting on a park bench in Manhattan, both with cell phones in hand. Suri chatted for a while, and then the pair met up with another mom-and-child duo. The friend had his own cell, and it looked as though Suri was giving him her number.
So is 6 really a good age for a personal phone? A lot of parents would say no. Kids that age are barely able to write essays for school, much less texts. First-graders are also prone to carelessness, so parents have to accept the reality that the device is probably going to get left behind in the park or a friend’s house at some point.
But for Suri, a cell is a convenient way to stay in touch with dad Tom Cruise, whom she doesn’t see often, or to touch base with her mom if she’s on a playdate. There are plenty of phone options available for children her age, including ones with pre-paid minutes, limited number options (no accidental calls to Bolivia!) and apps appropriate for grade-schoolers.
Maybe Katie even uses the cell as an incentive for Suri: “Keep your room clean, or the phone gets a time-out.”
What do you think? Would you let your 6-year-old join the ranks of young cell owners?
[Photo: via Pacific Coast News]
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