Kids are receiving their own cell phones at younger ages than ever.
While they have certainly been popular with tweens and teens since, well, forever, I’ve seen kids as young as 4 with their own phones. How young is too young for a phone?
If you have kids, I’m willing to bet that you’ve already wondered if they need a phone yet. At what age do they “need” a phone? At what age are they ready for the responsibility?
Each family is different, and every kid is different, too. That means that there isn’t a definitive answer I can give you. However, here are some things to think about before handing your child a cell phone.
Staying in Touch
Most parents lean toward purchasing phones for children because it lets you stay in touch with them at all times. It’s practical. It gives an extra sense of security and safety.
If dance class lets out early, your child can call or text you with ease. What if you need to send someone else to pick them up, or let them know you are running late? In case of emergency, you are able to contact your child immediately. Plus, in the face of a tragedy, such as a shooting or terrorist attack, that phone might be your only lifeline to your kids.
However, younger children might not have a busy enough schedule to even facilitate this. If you’re dropping your child off and picking them back up at school each day, do they really need a phone to stay in touch?
Remember that phones don’t really come cheap. Once you purchase a phone, you’re on the hook for a monthly service plan, and likely locked into a contract for it, too. And what happens if they break the phone? Now, you’re looking at dropping cash on another phone.
Of course, there are inexpensive phones out there. If you can get away with it, some wireless providers still offer old-school flip phones. You know, phones that are just phones. Especially with younger kids, this is all they need, anyway.
Although phones provide the safety of being able to reach or even find your child (thanks GPS!), they also increase other safety risks.
Phones give your child another way to communicate with the outside world, and you have limited supervision over it. Through text messages and social media apps, your kid could be talking to anyone.
Also, keep in mind that most phones will give your kid complete internet access, loaded with a wide array of apps that are much harder to filter, track, or control as compared to a traditional home computer.
It’s also worth noting that phones can be a source of distraction for kids of all ages. Of course, for teens this could mean the dangers of distracted driving. But for kids of all ages, phones can be a big distraction while doing basic activities, like playing on a playground or crossing the street. It could wind up leading to more accidents and injuries.
So, What’s the Verdict?
Ultimately, the decision is yours. No two situations are the same, so its impossible to put an age limit on cell phones. What might be right for your child might not be right for mine.
However, I do hope that these points have helped you in deciding whether or not your child needs a cell phone.