When Should a Child Receive a Cellphone?

When should a child receive a cellphone?

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Today many children are increasingly having access to cellphones. In the United States, it is not uncommon to see kids in the carrying a mobile by the 4th grade. In fact, some statistics note more than 50 percent of kids aged 8 to 12 have a cellphone. According to Growing Wireless, AT&T reports on average, kids receive their first mobile device at age 12. While not all children have mobile phones this young, some parents decide to give their child a phone for many reasons. 

There is no ‘set’ designated time a child should be given a cellphone. The age a child receives the privilege of carrying a phone should be individual decision and is likely to vary according to each family and child. Several things should be considered when trying to determine whether or not your child is mature enough to handle a cellphone. It is entirely possible for a 10 year old to be responsible, but a 15 year old act completely irresponsible. Which child should get the cellphone? The older one or the more mature one?

Middle school seems to be a pretty good age to give a child a cellphone, if anything for peace of mind for the parent. At this age kids begin to get involved in extracurricular activities, clubs and spending time afterschool with their friends; having a phone makes it a lot easier to check in and be sure a child is safe. In the event of an emergency or other need to reach a parent, the child has a fast way to call. 

When should a child receive a cellphone? When you are deliberating at what age to add your child to a mobile plan, there are a few factors to keep in mind which may help you come to a good decision before giving your child the privilege of a mobile phone:

Maturity Level

Is your child matured enough to handle carrying a cell phone? Does (s)he appreciate proper usage of a phone and understand what is considered abuse? A child who will abuse the privilege by constantly going over minutes, sending inappropriate text messages, or making prank calls is perhaps not mature enough, but one who will follow your set phone rules and not take advantage of having a phone is probably mature enough.


Carrying a cellphone brings responsibility, and a child who tends to constantly lose things is probably not ready to get one. There is not only the replacement costs of the phone to consider, but the misuse which could occur if someone else finds the phone and decides to take advantage and run up your cellular bill. This can be partly solved by purchasing a “pay as you go” phone, however, responsibility should still probably be taken into consideration.

Phone vs. Toy

A child who understands the concept of wasteful usage and good phone etiquette is likely ready for a phone. One who doesn’t understand the purpose of a phone and perceives the cell as a toy is probably not ready to have this responsibility.

There are many advantages and disadvantages to allowing a child the freedom to carry a cellphone. Every child is different and the child’s personality and behavior should be a prime consideration when making this decision. Also, once the decision is made to allow a child to have one, the next decision will be to go “regular” mobile or smartphone. Allowing a child to carry a smartphone brings on other challenges due to the online safety risks associated with the Internet.

One of the biggest benefits of giving your child a mobile is the accessibility; you rarely will have to worry about your child knowing they are only a speed dial away; however, there are significant drawbacks as well. Before allowing your child to get a phone, what’s most important is you weigh out the pros and cons.

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