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Is Your Kid Old Enough for a Cell Phone?

Dylan live tweeting The Next Iron Chef

We got our daughter a working cell phone on her 8th birthday. Now, I know what a lot of you are thinking (that I’m crazy and that 8 is too young). But… now that she is 10, I can honestly say that I have zero regrets. And when my son turns 8 in a year and a half, his iPhone (one of our old ones that he uses like an iPod touch currently) will absolutely be added to our plan as well.

We got Dylan her phone for a number of reasons. At the time, I was working outside the home. My kids get out of school at 1:45, so she typically had three to four hours of down time with my au pair before I got home. I loved the idea of being able to text her. (Texting is SO much easier than phone calls when you are in nonstop meetings.)

I also loved the idea of her being able to text her family members that live out of state. My dad is a texting fiend, and it’s a nice way for them to keep in touch. Now that Dylan is 10, she’s been upgraded to an old iPhone 4, and she uses it in all the same ways we do.

She tweets, she Instagrams (why yes, that IS a verb), she emails and she texts. Last week, she used her phone to make an online tutorial for YouTube demonstrating how to create a cube with Bucky Balls. Every Sunday, we sit together on the couch and live tweet our favorite Food Network show, The Next Iron Chef. She sends supportive @ replies to her favorites and comments on the difficulty of the challenges. This is my favorite hour every week.

I have no problem defending my choice to allow Dylan to have a phone. It’s been amazing for our family. We still do non-screen time things (like a two-hour Backgammon showdown), but the reality is that technology is a really big deal in our house. I work in social media. My husband works in social media. She wants to be like us, and her participation has been a bonding experience. We love clicking “like” on each other’s Instagram posts and tweeting funny things back and forth.

This is a 10-year-old who understands the proper use of hashtags and other Twitter etiquette. She knows how to mark a tweet as spam (after showing me, so that I’m aware of any hinky activity). She loves this stuff and I can’t imagine denying her the opportunity to explore it.

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