What's the right age to get my kid a cell phone?

When you hand your children cell phones, you're giving them powerful communication and media-production tools. They can create text, images, and videos that can be widely distributed and uploaded to websites instantly.

If you think your kids' technological savvy is greater than their ability to use it wisely, pay attention to the gap. You may need to say, "No, not yet." But if you think they might be ready, their ages aren't as important as their maturity level, ability to follow your (and their schools') rules, and their sense of responsibility.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do your kids show a sense of responsibility, such as letting you know when they leave the house? Do they show up when they say they will?
  • Do your kids tend to lose things, such as backpacks or homework folders? If so, expect they might lose an (expensive!) phone, too.
  • Do your kids need to be in touch for safety reasons?
  • Would having easy access to friends benefit them for social reasons?
  • Do you think they'll use cell phones responsibly -- for example, not texting during class or disturbing others with their phone conversations?
  • Can they adhere to limits you set for minutes talked and apps downloaded?
  • Will they use text, photo, and video functions responsibly and not to embarrass or harass others?
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Comments

Teen, 13 years old written by OliRan321

I think that when they start to go to places on their own and with friends they should have a phone in case of an emergency. I also believe that giving them a smart phone is telling them that you trust them which is a must in parenting. Overall I think 13 is about the right age to get a phone depending on maturity. This is when I got mine and there have been no problems as my parents trust me to be responsible and I know I can talk to them if anything comes up.
Kid, 10 years old

I'd Maybe say a average 13 OR Mid- late Middle school. If you get bored on the bus or your school let's you have phones in the beginning of the day, It's good. Anyway, I don't have a phone myself, but i'm getting one at 13.
Kid, 8 years old

At any age. If they are responsible enough not to lose their phones. I make paper phones.
Teen, 16 years old written by Hainesama123

I think the perfect age to get a cell phone is around 16-18 years old. I am 16 years old and I don't have a phone or anything yet, but I plan to get one when I start working. I personally think middle schoolers don't deserve smartphones because it is too early for them to have one, but by high school, if they show that they are mature and responsible, then you can get them one.
Teen, 14 years old written by PrequelHater878

I would say after middle school because then they will start to do more things with friends and being away from the house more often.
Kid, 12 years old

When your child has friends who have them. I do not even want a cellular phone, because only a few of my friends have them. As for school usage, teachers normally take away the phones of anyone who so much as takes it out of their pockets. In my school, you aren't even allowed to have your phone during anything, even break period or lunch.
Parent written by scuomo

A "cell phone" ("flip phone") that restricts the phone numbers that can called is fine for almost any age, and can help keep a child safe. However, if you're talking about giving a child a "smart phone", that's a different story. What is the benefit of giving a child a smart phone before they are VERY mature and trustworthy? When you give a child a "smart phone", you're giving your child mobile, unmonitored access to the internet. When much of the content of sites like commonsensemedia.org seem dedicated to trying to help us avoid the myriad problems and harm caused by internet access for children, I don't understand the wisdom in making it easier for kids to get in trouble. Isn't that really just parents being lazy and/or caving in, when they know in their hearts that their children's internet use should be monitored in the home on a large screen in a central location where parents and caregivers can clearly see what they're doing at all times, and can restrict the screen time allowed?
Teen, 13 years old written by Ki-RBT

If they're mature enough, any point at which they may be on their own for long periods of time (such as if they walk to school or visit friends) is a time when having a means of communication could be useful. For me, this was middle school, so around age 10-11, but they need to be responsible for their actions.
Adult written by k7vin11

How about you buy a kid a cellphone when the kid is old enough to not do stupid things with it and able to take responsibility? I would say the start of high school would be appropriate. If the kid needs one before that, perhaps considering disabling network access, etc.