At what age do kids need cell phones? It’s a question my wife and I have been struggling with lately.
I’ve heard stories of six year old kids getting iPhones from their parents. There’s no way we’re prepared to go that route.
My oldest daughter is nine and has been hammering us for a cell phone over the last year. It’s on her Christmas list this year and she’s recently started an all out campaign to make sure it’s under the tree this year. By campaign I mean she’s making sure she’s cleaning her room every day, being more responsible with her things etc. All things we as parents try to get her to do regularly.
But the real question is at nine years old does she really need a cell phone?
Two of her best friends have them and that’s probably the cause for the want on her part. These two friends have parents who are not home as much as we are. Parents that both work, baby sitters to cover when the kids come home etc. So I can see their need for wanting their kids to be able to contact them wherever and whenever. But my daughter’s not in that situation. One of her parent’s is always home. She gets off the bus from school and we’re there.
When asked what she’d use a cell phone for her response is “texting my friends and taking pictures.” If she was older I’d be concerned about the whole “sexting” thing, but I know that’s not an issue, now. I for one question if at nine she even knows how to text, but I guess I don’t give the level of electronic knowledge today’s kids have enough credit.
Money isn’t the issue for us either. I’m pretty sure I can get a free phone from my provider and add her to my current family plan for a little as $10 per month. And truthfully a cell phone costs less than some of the other toys she already has, a Nintendo DS for example.
She’s even gone as far as to say she’d be happy with a Firefly type phone (the one’s that only let the kids dial four pre-programmed numbers, pre-programmed by the parents.)
So is there an issue at all?
For now we’ve told her that if she shows us she’s responsible for the next month (takes care of her other gadgets (iPod Shuffle, Nintendo DS etc.) keeps her room clean and otherwise behaves, that’s we’re willing at least to discuss the idea.
Do you have children? Do they have cell phones? If they don’t have you struggled with this issue?