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Hey, Mom and Dad: When Should Kids Get Their First Cell Phone?

Parents, Patch wants to hear from you on the questions that get families talking.

Welcome to "Hey, Mom and Dad"—a weekly feature in which we ask our Facebook fans to share their views on parenting. Every week we get the conversation started by taking a look back at a question we asked parents the week before on Patch Facebook pages from around the area:

Your child is 10 years old and insists he needs a cell phone in his life to keep him safe and in constant contact with his friends. What do you do? Run out and put him on the family plan? Or, tell him to wait until he can get a job and pay for it himself? That leads us to this week's question:

What is the appropriate age for kids to have their first cell phone?

Take a look at what people had to say and join the conversation in the Comments section.

Lee Ann Anderson: My daughter got her's in kindergarden she is now in the 7th grade . She was put on the wrong bus and was home alone thank goodness my neighbor was home I so up set that's when I got her one . Plus when was the last time you saw a pay phone . — Batavia Patch Facebook

Karyn Smith Wilson: When they are doing things with their friends going to the movies etc. (middle school or 5th grade) I want to be able to know where they are etc for safety reasons. (I'm not talking smart/iPhone here) — Elmhurst Patch Facebook

Kristen Norris Zimny: For us it was middle school. At middle school there are after school activities that the kids have to be picked up from and they needed a phone to get in contact with us. Before that there was no need. The kids school was close and within walking distance. — Geneva Patch Facebook

Julie Farrell: I told my girls that we'll DISCUSS it when they're 16, and even then it'll only happen if they're paying for at least half of it and only 'cuz payphones are few and far between these days. — Glen Ellyn Patch Facebook

Debbie Buelow: When they can pay the bill. — Lisle Patch Facebook

Michelle Sussman: When the kids are left without their parent - sports, practices, etc. — Naperville Patch Facebook

Devon Vida: Honestly, it depends on the circumstances. We have a blended family so our three kids are always splitting time between mom and dads...they are 9,10, and 11 and all have phones. — St. Charles Patch Facebook

Sue Stozek Mayeda: Depends on the individual child, I got my daughter hers when she turned 11. Better safe than sorry! — Wheaton Patch Facebook

So what's your take? Do kids need a cell phone before they're old enough to pay for it themselves? Tell us in the comments below.

John Iwaszkiewicz October 02, 2012 at 08:05 PM
ooo.....thats good.
Susan Klimala October 03, 2012 at 01:56 AM
I think there is more to having the phone than just using it for emergencies and communication with parents. We made the decision to get our kids phones in middle school, and it is great for contacting each other. What's not so great is the constant texting between kids that also accompanies the privilege of having a phone.
Kelli Trejo October 03, 2012 at 03:52 PM
We were asked for our personal opinions but at the end of the day, your response is the only truly correct anwser. :)
Kelli Trejo October 03, 2012 at 07:51 PM
A good point. Having had the iPhone since its inception, my children have always been able to pick it up and do more than I can - no tutorials, nobody first showing them. Google is to my 8-year-old what the Encyclopedia Brittanica was to me. Technology is no different than a foreign language - total immersion at the youngest age possible is the best way to learn. That said, my kids have plenty of experience with technology. Thus, in my humble opinion, keeping with the times is little cause to give my 11-year-old much less my 8-year-old their own cell phone no matter how much they beg. I just know how dependent I've become on mine and my kids don't need that type of dependency until they are much older. And if the point is only to be able to keep in contact with me while I'm away or they are, they aren't old enough to go anywhere unless we or their friends' parents take them so it's just not an issue yet. Of course, my family life is different than other parents' lives and as you said, it really boils down to what is best for each individual family. How can I say what is appropriate for another person's family? I just try to do what's best for mine and pray I don't screw them up along the way.
eric johnson October 04, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Our Naperville pediatrician advocates for children not to have a cell phone and if absolutely necessary then ONLY for texting. More and more physicians are speaking out about the impact of radiation exposure to a child, from cell phones. A child's skull is smaller and thinner than an adult, which allows for radiation to reach farther into the childs brain. http://www.cutcat.com/item_images/Cell%20Phones%20Carlo.pdf

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