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.

Debbie D. My oldest son was 12 1/2 & my youngest was 13 when they got theirs. Everyone's situation is unique. My oldest is now out school but my 8th grader doesn't take his phone to school & thankfully he's not too interested in it. Not yet anyways. ;) via Oswego Patch Facebook page

Debra S. Kids DO NOT need a cell phone for use during the day at school or after school practices! Schools have anywhere from 50-300 phones in the building which are allowed to be used for emergencies. Do not let your children fool you. It's merely a status symbol. They don't need them, and end up getting them stolen or using them during school which gets them in trouble.  via Plainfield Patch Facebook page

Diane H. My kids got theirs when they started middle school & were spending more time at after school activities. Smart phones, while nice, aren't necessary and add to the expense. However I do suggest that you find a plan that has unlimited texting and save yourself the huge bill when they go over the limit (and they WILL!)lol via Bolingbrook Patch Facebook page

Sue B. I agree that it is about responsibility, not just age, but my question is who pays for these phones? We have a tight, tight budget, and I just can't see how families can afford monthly phone plans. My 11-year-old (soon to be 12) keeps asking us for a phone. My husband and I both have very basic phones. We can call and text and that's it. I think the peer pressure to keep up with the Jones' and the latest greatest technology is what feeds the phone frenzy. Families need more in person face-time. As far as the argument that the kids need the phone for activities and whatnot, I don't buy it (except for an emergency) if you need to pick up your kid at 5 from practice, then be there at 5 - worked for my parents may years ago. via Yorkville Patch Facebook page

Mark D. A basic cell phone, or a full-fledged smart phone? We bought our 11-year old a simple little cell phone because he now walks to school. All it has is voice and texting. That's all he needs. When and if he wants a smart phone he'll have to pay for it himself. Most likely 16 or so. I can't stand seeing little kids staring at smart phones. I wonder about the intelligence of the parents, honesty. via Joliet Patch Facebook page

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.

BitterBluePoison October 03, 2012 at 11:24 AM
All my children have cell phones. I am able to see where they are at any given moment (or at least where the phone is) and can contact them when I need to or Vice Versa. You need to provide your child a cell phone as soon as they become involved in the world outside your home. If you have taught them right from wrong then there should be no problem with all the negative effects of cell phone use. I have six children ages 12 to 23. Smart phones are for the older children who want them and comply with our demands. If you can't afford the phones..don't get them. This is the 21st Century...try to keep up.
Michele brown October 03, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Our daughter is 10 and we have cell phone for her which she uses when we are not with her. We like knowing she has one when spending the night at a friends. It was so nice when she texted me good night and I love you. It uses shared minutes and has 200 texts. She barely uses it and only takes it with her to school if they are going on a field trip ( that is for us not her). Her phone is basic phone and like other people she will only get a smartphone if she pays for it herself. I got rid of my smartphone when I noticed I spent more time on that than spending time with my kids.
Mickey October 10, 2012 at 01:45 PM
My sister & I are are getting the iPhone 4 (99€ each)!! & giving my son & daughter are old 3GS. I never will purchase them anything new. Only hand me downs. & for that matter I never purchase anything when it comes out. I wait til they mark it down. I'm teaching my kids to be frugal & look for deals. & not to pay market price.
Mickey October 10, 2012 at 01:51 PM
When I was a kid, my dad gave me a cut out card board with dimes taped on it to use when I needed to call from a pay phone. I'm thankful that my kids don't have to use the pay phone like I had to. Didn't realize back then how much germs are on those handles! Wow!! No wonder I would get sick a lot!
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