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Kids and cell phones

Posted Thursday, March 17, 2011, at 11:23 AM

Some friends of mine on Facebook were having a discussion about the appropriate age for a child to have a cell phone:

* Some say there's no need until the child is old enough to have a driver's license and be out on his/her own.

* Another friend said her young, pre-driving daughter has a pre-paid cell phone and earns credits for it by doing household chores. This friend doesn't have a land-line phone and would rather her daughter's friends call the daughter's phone than her own cell phone.

What do you think? At what age is it appropriate for a child to have their own cell phone? Do you have any special rules or guidelines for your kids' cell phone use?


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@SoccerMomma, I'm about to get my daughter a Tracfone phone for her 13th birthday. I can't decide if I should get her the 125 minutes plan or the 200 minutes plan. She is a little chatterbox but I don't want to give her too many minutes because I don't want her using it ALL the time. Just in case of emergencies and a few calls with her friends. Which one did you do for your boys? Both plans are for the perfect price - I just can't decide!!

-- Posted by MammaMia on Sat, Apr 30, 2011, at 8:00 PM

I have to say I agree and disagree with a lot of the points on here but hey, we're all parents with different techniques ;) My boys are 12 and 14 and my husband and I decided a few months ago to buy them both tracfones. We load them with enough minutes each month for them to be able to call us whenever they need to when they are not at home. The tracfones are an affordable way to give a parent a peace of mind.

-- Posted by SoccerMomma on Wed, Mar 30, 2011, at 10:57 PM

I am also of the opinion that cell phones should not be given to teens for their benefit, but for yours. I'd probably start looking at an entry level and definitely prepaid phone at around 16. Unfortunately, this choice was taken away from me when my ex-husband decided to buy my 13 and 16 year olds each their own smartphone, and as though that was not enough damage, with it a Straight Talk unlimited everything plan! His reasoning...it was the best value for money and they'll never run out of airtime or result in overage costs. I suspect he was being Mr Nice-Guy to not have to say no. Well, when they are with me, there are rules in place about daytime usage and at 8.30pm, they hand them over to me for the night so I don't have kids staying up all night "chatting" with friends or surfing the net. If he's wasting money on unlimited plans that are not being used, he may actually consider switching to something more age appropriate.

-- Posted by BlueDoor on Sun, Mar 20, 2011, at 2:38 PM

While I really feel that cell phones are the bane of a number of issues in society, from teens (in)ability to interact, kids access to inappropriate web content to basic manners and patience, there are occasions when one needs your teen to have a phone.

To those who claim "you are lacking quality parenting skills" if you can not keep up with your child without the aide of a cell phone, I would like you to open your minds slightly to those less fortunate than yourself in circumstance. I most certainly did not ask to be left as a single parent of 4, who after many years of being home, keeping up with their lives, etc, suddenly had to become the breadwinner. I am dependent on others for lift clubs, after-school care and so on, and so circumstance has it that I need to be able to contact them or have them contact me if an afternoon activity gets canceled or if there is an emergency of any sort.

The compromise between my lowly views on cellphones and the need for them resulted in a prepaid Net10 monthly plan-they have 200 minutes/month, costing me $15. So no smartphones, web access, etc, but my sanity and peace of mind, when I can't be there, covered.

-- Posted by Joel11 on Sun, Mar 20, 2011, at 11:43 AM

There's no comparing our kids' behavior to ours when we were their age. Things have changed a lot, and even the thought of not being within an text away from contact with their friends sends shock waves through the household...which is real leverage as far as punishments are concerned. All I as a parent can do is conserve the possible damage of a phone bill, and make it slightly less appealing to use the darn thing all the time. That's why tracfone. Not attractive, and small plans.

-- Posted by Fiftystrong on Sun, Mar 20, 2011, at 5:24 AM

hmmm guess by those guidelines adults shouldn't have cell phones either because I have seen many adults do those exact things and their car can hurt you just as bad as any 16 year old's car could.

Jaxspike I dont want to argue with you cause actually I like you and usually pretty much agree with you but honestly you could say the same thing about almost any product we all use.

By those same terms maybe there shouldn't be GPS in cars or radios. I saw a lady going down North Main the other day reading from a Kindle while driving and she sure wasn't a kid.

We can't live our lives playing "whatif" if we do we confine ourselves to our homes afraid to step outside of our bubble.

It's just not kids who do stupid things even us adults can be pretty dang stupid on any given day.

-- Posted by Dianatn on Sat, Mar 19, 2011, at 12:58 AM

It is my business if say a 16 year old is out driving and decides he wants to text or talk on the phone instead of paying attention to the road and hits me and causes me injury, loss of property or even worse, death. You are basically handing a weapon to an inexperienced driver. It is my business if a ten year old whips out his phone at a movie theater while I am trying to watch a movie(this happens so many times and of course, where are the parents . . . definitely not at the theater).

Granted, that is an extreme case but it is just some of the reasons why children really dont need a cell phone.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Fri, Mar 18, 2011, at 11:29 PM

The right time for your child to have a cell phone is when the parent decides. It doesn't matter if they are 6 or 16. If it makes the parent more comfortable about being able to get in touch with their child then who's business is it besides the parents.

We should worry more about the children who are left alone at home all day or all night while Mommy and Daddy are out partying or the children who do not have the basic needs in life because the parents prefer drugs and beer to food.

besides the GPS tracking on phones is a great way to make sure your child isn't "out of pocket" it would also be a good device if, God forbid, your child gets taken by someone other than a parent.

.

-- Posted by Dianatn on Fri, Mar 18, 2011, at 5:13 PM

I never thought my child would need one until older (he's 11) but since the divorce and jealous "other", they do not like me texting or calling my child to see where child is, or if he's ok, on their weekends, so, have had to use that GPS tracking to at least make sure he's with his parent and not left with "the other".

-- Posted by mmp84 on Fri, Mar 18, 2011, at 3:59 PM

I agree jaxspike.

I know where my kids are at all times. It's not because they have a GPS on them; it's because I pay attention to them. Yes, we homeschool, but still when we go to a park or such, I am always watching them. I am not one of the parents who sits around outside not watching their kids.

I am not one of those parents either who cares if "the kids are fitting in society's box". I care that my kids advance in their education and careers.

-- Posted by PrpleHze on Fri, Mar 18, 2011, at 12:32 PM

Sorry, but a child should not have a cell phone until they are at the driving age at least but better yet when they become an adult. If you can not keep up with your child without the aide of a cell phone then you are lacking quality parenting skills and before anyone says that is harsh . . . how did they manage before cell phones were invented? Cell phones have become a tool for many parents to become lazy and not be physically involved in their child's life. Also, how many deaths have we seen in the past few years that involved a teenager being in an accident because they were too busy texting or talking on the cell phone instead of watching the road?

It is funny that this topic is being discussed because the other day at work I was talking to someone and she was telling me how her children will text each other and her in their own house to discuss something or get their attention. How sad is that? Then we wonder why so many families are so dysfunctional nowadays.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Fri, Mar 18, 2011, at 11:44 AM

If you have ever sat at home wondering where your kid is, then it is time to get cellphones. A cellphone is not just a toy for a kid, it is a great way for you to keep tabs on your kid. I think that the right time is around 12 years of age. Your kids will loose out socially if they do not have cellphones from that age onwards. You can get cheap prepaid phones like Tracfone. They do not cost much and because they are prepaid, you cannot get a huge bill at the end of the month.

-- Posted by springleaves on Fri, Mar 18, 2011, at 7:47 AM

I guess I have the "weird" kids because none of them have ever asked me for a cell phone. They are not the type of kids who have to have the latest tech or the latest fashion,etc. My oldest is 12.

I do have a Tracfone that I use for emergencies, but I never use it chat with someone just to have to do or text. My kids do understand that when they are old enough to drive, then they will receive a Tracfone, because you never know what can happen while you are out driving.

But other than that, I don't see the since of kids having cell phones that do not drive or are not working.

-- Posted by PrpleHze on Thu, Mar 17, 2011, at 9:13 PM

I'm in total agreement with the party that children should't have a cellphone until they are driving and out due to some sort of work/school function. We already have enough problems with the youth today without giving them more ammunition.

-- Posted by boomer455 on Thu, Mar 17, 2011, at 8:49 PM

Mine have been wanting one for a while (13 & 10) and we have refused to get them one. I am considering adding one in the future as the older one starts traveling more with school, just so that I can contact him and vise versa. I do get irked when I have to pick him up and they are running late. More for my convienence right now than his though. But just to have "because everyone else has one"...no, not happening.

-- Posted by neighborhood mom on Thu, Mar 17, 2011, at 8:16 PM

I have been wondering this same thing.

My husband and I will be getting our six year old a cell phone when he graduates kindergarten. This may seem too young, but we have a few personal reasons for making this decision.

Our oldest, the six year old, is Autistic (Asperger's Disorder), but is mature enough at this age to probably live alone (he's never alone, just saying). Mine and my husband's cell phones are completely different, so instead of teaching him how to use both of our's, we feel it would be easier for him to have his own, and only learn that one.

Also, we do not have a land line, and since he is frequently with his grandma, who has health problems, we feel it would be good for him to know how to use one.

As far as restrictions go, the phone will NOT go to school with him, and will stay home most of the time. He will need to share his phone with middle brother who has more severe Autism (will only be taught to call 911).

Also, he will not know his number until he is older. For the first year or so, the phone will only be for family, and emergency use.

His phone will be a basic phone. Nothing fancy.

My husband and I are really excited about this decision, and feel this is a big step for our boys. =)

-- Posted by Mary on Thu, Mar 17, 2011, at 12:03 PM


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