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Munchkins with Mobiles: When Your 7 Year-Old Wants a Cell Phone

Munchkins with Mobiles: When Your 7 Year-Old Wants a Cell Phone

Should grade-schoolers and pre-teens have cellphones? If so, what privileges should be allowed? There are no clear-cut answers on when and how to introduce children to new technologies like cellphones (and don’t even get us started on sites like Facebook). But based on the diverse opinions we’ve seen on Circle of Moms, here are three major factors to consider when deciding whether to give your child a cellphone.

1. Is it a Need or a Want?

Of course children want cellphones—they see mobiles everywhere, and they seem like really fun toys. But while a child's desire for a phone is the primary purchase reason for some parents, many others see cellphones as a safety precaution that provides welcome peace of mind.

For example, Alison T.’s 9-year-old son uses his cellphone when he has to walk home alone: “He calls me when he gets off the bus if no-one is there to meet him, and we talk while he is walking home until he gets in the house so I know he is safe.” Similarly, Kareena C. decided a cellphone made sense for her 7-year-old son: “As he is really sensible and we live in a rural area, he was allowed to play down at the park on his own and we wanted him to be able to contact us if he needed to. He calls us every time he wants to call on a friend etc. so we always know where he is.”

Other moms make the case that single parents, separated parents, and families with both parents working outside the home all might find it convenient and reassuring for their young child to have a cellphone.

2. Setting Boundaries

Whether your child is 6 or 16, once you decide to purchase her a cellphone, Circle of Moms members recommend establishing boundaries. Decide where the phone can be taken, what numbers can be called, and whether texting, photos and games are allowed. Karen T. is one of many moms who established an emergencies-only policy: “My daughter has one but she is only allowed to use it when she is going to friends and we have restrictions on the numbers she can call on it and we also bought a very basic handset which is just a phone, no text or camera etc...it is really only for her to use in emergencies.” Kristi D. shared a similar policy: “My 8 y.o. son got a phone last year for his birthday. He only gets it when he goes to his dad's house, or we go to theme parks or other crowd-filled areas. He can take pictures with it, but that's it. The phone is locked so he can only call and receive calls from the numbers we've entered in.”

3. Teaching Responsibility

Circle of Moms members like Margarita M. emphasize that a child needs to be taught "the significance of the responsibility that comes with having a cell phone.” Some moms suggest having a child contribute allowance toward the phones fees; others like Kesha E. suggest gradually increasing priviledges as a child proves she is responsible: “Try making it a reward system. If she shows responsibility and you set some boundaries such as the phone can only be used on weekends and as she matures and shows responsibility she can earn more usage. By the time she is 9 or 10 maybe she could earn full usage.”

Ultimately, you may conclude, as Latissa S. did, that your child simply isn't ready: “My 11 year old wants one too. If she was responsible enough I would say yes but my child loses stuff a lot and I am not paying for a new one everytime it’s gone. Each child is different and you know if your child can handle the responsibility.”

At what age will you (or did you) give your child a cellphone? What restrictions, if any, did you place on its use?

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DrewT1385385730 DrewT1385385730 2 years
I think kids should only get a cellphone if they need one (like if you worked full time or something) and it should be a cheap phone with no internet or anything. At 13 or 14 teens could get a touch cellphone if they wished and be allowed more internet usage, etc. I got my first phone at 13 and my sister at 9.
toni75555 toni75555 3 years
I will give my dd a cell phone when she attends her first day of school - just a basic one, no inet, phone etc and only pre dialled in numbers. It would need to be handed to me once i picked her up from school. Why I'm sure you'll ask, well we had some pretty major natural disasters here in the last few years and I want the security of knowing that if I can't get to my daughter, or if she is trapped etc we can be in touch. Might sound silly to some but these sorts of experiences really temper your opinion on these matters. FYI from Christchurch NZ, 10 000 plus earthquakes in 18mths and still counting.
kendragray54836 kendragray54836 5 years
My son is 8 and keeps asking for one I really do not like the idea of all this stuff coming out and now kids are not being kids they are growing up way to fast. I think its sad when you have to fight to get your kid to want to go outside and play I loved going out side and still do
TinaMcGAnn99123 TinaMcGAnn99123 5 years
If you are to give your kid a cell phone make sure it is a pay as you go. Get them minets then tell them, this phone is only for contacting us MOM and DAD, if your out, you only have this amount of minets. You use all your minets tuff. It teaches your child to be responsible. But i am talking about when your kid starts going out with freinds and away from home 10, 11,12. 7 year olds dont need a cell
ElisabethIswariMH ElisabethIswariMH 5 years
i gave my son a cellphone when he was 10 when he is responsible enough..once they are responsible i think is ok...its for emergency too...and they are not living in the period we were.
saradalli saradalli 5 years
Ppl tend to forget this us such a different world to what it was years ago so we need to make some changes n give kids things or take away things we had at their ages. Both my son n daughter will get a phone but only for emergencies..
DawnDicken DawnDicken 5 years
We discontinued our home phone when our daughter was 10. She started staying home after school on her own at 11, so we got her a cell phone then. She definitely needed a way to be able to call us or her grandparents in an emergency. I do think that anything under 10 is way too young, but every family and every child is different. Give the kids limits and as they get older you can expand them.
AlexandraGarrett AlexandraGarrett 5 years
my husband and i are going to give our child a "kids phone" when he goes into school. You know the ones for little ones that are for emergencies only. I think you can only program 4 numbers and you can set the times and how many hours the phone can be used.
TabithaThompson26510 TabithaThompson26510 5 years
I didn't have a cell phone until the end of middle school and the only reason I had one then was because we didn't have a cell phone, we lived out in the sticks (literally), we didn't have neighbors, and both my parents worked from 3-11+. So there were many many nights I was alone and something could have went wrong. Thank God it didn't. But seeing as how my husband and I plan on being arond family once my hubby gets outta the military, along with having a house phone. So there won't be a cell phone mentioned until he has a job and is able to pay for it himself. If he gets one from us and we're paying for it then he will have the most basic phone/plan available. Once he starts paying for some or even all of his part of the phone bill he can pay for an upgrade on both.
JolenePalazzolo JolenePalazzolo 5 years
There's really nothing to consider!! Children do nit need cell phones!! It's so ridiculous to give one to a child. Nuff said!!
CrystallenaFrost CrystallenaFrost 5 years
i agree with the going to the park and the adult situations but i also dont trust the school system and id like to have gps on my son while hes there with the firefly i can and also when he goes to sleep at some1s house if something happens but there will only b 4 numbers that can call and that he can call and parents goto the damn park with ur child if some1 wants ur kid they will take them from ur front yard
HeatherNuckolls HeatherNuckolls 5 years
Children are getting phones way too early now! They are not mature enough to understand what can happen if you misuse it in even the simplest way. I had a job and a car before I was slowed to have a cellphone. I plan on doing the same for my daughter.
CrystallenaFrost CrystallenaFrost 5 years
my son is only a year but when he enters school i wanna get him something like the firefly 4 numbers thats it incase he needs to call mami or papi or his grandparents and when he wants a real cell phone he will need to contribute to learn responsibility and he will have boundaries i got my 1st cell at 13 as emergency only on my moms plan and the following summer i used my babysitting money to pay for my own prepaid phone and i been paying for my own since then it is a good way to teach responsibility and a reward system if the parents r paying for it
CoMMember13630940374192 CoMMember13630940374192 5 years
It seems that cell phones are giving parents some false security. A child doesn't need a phone to go play at the park. They need their parent to go with them.
AprilKaderka AprilKaderka 5 years
I believe in not giving children cell phones until they are old enough and responsible enough to use them properly. Seven is way too young and I believe if parents give children adult things then it not only makes them LAZY parents it also is putting them in situations that they should not be put in. My best friend has an 8 year old and he has had a cell phone since he was 6 years old. She caught him sexting with a 9 year old. My opinion no cell phones for children.. Period. Oh and the son is in a Gifted and Talented school. So yes she pays attention to him and is a great mom. Parents put children in adult situations with out even knowing it.
AprilKaderka AprilKaderka 5 years
I believe in not giving children cell phones until they are old enough and responsible enough to use them properly. Seven is way too old and I believe if parents give you children adult things then it not only makes them LAZY parents it also is putting them in situations that they should not be put in. My best friend has an 8 year old and he has had a cell phone since he was 6 years old. She caught him sexting with a 9 year old. My opinion not cell phones for children.. Period. Oh and the son is in a Gifted and Talented school. So yes she pays attention to him and is a great mom it's that parents put children in adult situations with out even knowing it.
CoMMember13627042593097 CoMMember13627042593097 5 years
I didn't have a cell phone until I was 21 and it was a prepaid. While the article presents some valid points (the child walking home) I just think it's silly when young children have cell phones.
CrystalSuydam CrystalSuydam 5 years
I didn't have a cell phone until I was 21, and that was just a tracfone. End of story.
JessicaSantiagoLopez JessicaSantiagoLopez 5 years
Um...I did fine not having a cell phone until the end of high school...so yeah. Not until high school.
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