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At What Age Should You Buy a Phone for Your Kids?

phones for kids

When is it okay to give your child a cellphone?

As kids get older, it gets more difficult to figure out what to get them for Christmas.  At least it does in my house.  My son is ten, and in past years he could always come up with a list of things he wanted, from Legos to Star Wars action figures.

Not so this year.  I’ve already completed getting gifts for my 5-year-old, whose list was created by circling pretty much everything in every single toy catalog that came in the mail.  Yet I still have almost nothing for Jack.  He’s in that strange transition period where he’s not little and he’s not big and he’s somewhat uninterested in toys and not really ready for a car or an electric shaver.  He says he just doesn’t know what to ask for.

My husband suggested perhaps we get him a cellphone.  Nothing fancy, just something basic that he can use to call us or his friend or his grandmother.

I hesitate.  That doesn’t feel right to me. I have no idea when it would be an appropriate time to give my kid a cellphone.  I like the idea that he could call us if he needed us, though practically speaking he is almost always with us so the only time he’d need to call is if he’s in the upstairs bathroom and runs out of toilet paper.  I don’t like the idea that he could possible call people I don’t know about, and talk about things I don’t know about, though practically speaking he’s not likely to do that for a few more years.

Marguerite Reardon of CNET tackled this issue recently, answering how young is too young for a cellphone.  She doesn’t think elementary school children, or even middle school kids, need cellphones and thinks it’s best to wait until your child reaches high school.

Parenting author Marybeth Hicks agrees, saying in an interview with Reardon that, “When you give your child a cellphone you are giving him or her a lot more freedom and access to a social life that can’t be supervised. A lot of parents are blindsided by some things that come up as a result of kids using cell phones, and the truth is they are the ones providing that access.”

What do you think?  Have any of you given your child a cellphone yet? If so, at what age? What problems, if any, arose?

Be sure to check out the full article on CNET.  Reardon offers tips on the best types of cellphones to buy for kids and how to block them from having access to things that might get them into trouble.

Photo credit: Stockxchng/lusi

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