These days it is common place to see toddlers running around with a cell phone playing games, listening to music and watching movies. The touch screen makes it so easy for them to operate they often use the devices even before they can talk. But what age is it appropriate to get a child a cell phone? There are a variety of factors to consider when thinking about buying your child a cell phone.
It’s About Maturity Not Age
Maturity varies from child to child. That means there is no specific age benchmark that will tell you your child is ready for a phone. A more accurate way to asses is whether or not your child has the maturity to handle a cell phone. Most kids get their first phone between the ages of 12 and 13, but there are many kids as young as 8 and 9 that can responsibly handle a cell phone. Will your child be able to keep track of the phone without losing it? Will she constantly be texting friends and playing games? These are all questions to ask yourself before committing to an added expense to your monthly budget.
Talk About It
Give your child the opportunity to have an open discussion about having their own cell phone. Ask them what they would use the phone for, whether or not they would like to contribute to the cost, and whether or not they could handle the responsibility. If you feel your child is ready, let them help establish guidelines about appropriate usage and the type of phone.
Cell Phones are a Privilege – Not a Right
Tell your child that having a cell phone is a reflection of their responsibility and ability to properly use one. Even if all of their friends have one, it is not a right, so make sure your child does not take it for granted. The best way to help your child appreciate a phone is by having them contribute towards the bill by paying or doing chores around the house.
Keep it Simple
You wouldn’t give your child a brand new Ferrari as their first car, so why would you give them a state of the art smart phone that costs hundreds of dollars. Most cell phone companies have simple phones that allow for calling only. You could also purchase a model that allows for talk and text, but no internet. If they can handle it, then you could upgrade to a more advanced phone with a few more bells and whistles.
Do a Trial Run
Instead of locking yourself into a two-year cell phone commitment, try using a prepaid phone with no contract. If it doesn’t work out, you’re only out a little bit of money and can always deactivate the phone.
So what do you think is a good age to let a child have a cell phone?