Before the days when my teenage daughter became tethered to her hot pink cell phone and responsive solely to the ping of an incoming text, I was one of the last moms to equip her with a cell phone and add her to my AT&T phone plan. I held off until she reached the grand old age of 12, and in eighth grade.
I had lots of reasons. The major one was I am responsible for my daughter's life. When she was junior high-aged and begging me "Mom, EVERYONE has a cell phone except me!" I worried mostly that I wouldn't be able to properly protect the online version of that life. Cyber bullying, sexting and sex predators came immediately to mind, not to mention that I'm not big on badgering and arming my kids with products just because "everyone" has them.
I am not alone. The decision to get your child a first cell phone is a tough one for many Circle of Moms members who wonder: "What's the right age?"
As Jennifer N. shares, "Where I live, almost all kids from the age of eight on have their own cell phones. I personally don't agree with it and my kids (ten and nine) will not be getting one any time soon." She adds though, that "Sometimes I do wish my ten-year-old daughter had one [so that] we could text back and forth, but mainly because she is in Girl Scouts and I don't always go with her. It would just be easier. But my husband and I discussed this and no matter how other parents think, we are not getting our kids cell phones until they are responsible for paying for them."
Shellyann J., a mom of two teens and a tween, has a hard and fast age rule on cell phones: 12. "My 10-year-old is asking for one now and my husband and I told her that she will get one at the same age her brother and sister got their own - 12," she says.
No question, there are lots of factors that weigh into this rite of passage for you and your child. I ended up giving in when I did because of the convenience: it's very helpful knowing where and when to pick my daughter up at the mall, or when tennis practice was over. It also allowed her to text me instantaneously if she was home alone and the fire alarm went off (which it did once) and I was holed up in a work meeting.
But I must admit, our deal, at least initially, was that she would use the phone solely for occasions when I needed to know the time and place she needed to be picked up, or in an emergency. We had many conversations about how it wasn't a tool to rack up minutes on my phone plan or for texting around the clock. And we/she learned our lessons when she'd "accidentally" forget to turn her cell phone on when she was out at night, or was not quick to respond to calls from me.
There were other lessons as well: Once my daughter accidently left her cell phone in her pants pocket and tossed her clothes into the laundry. Another time it fell out in the restroom. Both experiences cost me an extra $50 for replacements. So I learned the hard way that when you buy a cell phone for a teen, it pays to spring for insurance.
At what age will you buy your child a cell phone?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.