Here's When You Should Get Your Kid a Cell Phone
If you have a kid over the age of 5, you're probably already in the thick of the great cell phone debate. What's the right age to give your kid their first smartphone? There's still no hard-and-fast recommendation, but kids are getting their hands on phones at a much younger age, according to a 2012 study from Influence Central, which found that children get their first device at an average age of 10.3 years old.
Only 31 percent of children between 8 and 10 years old have one, but it skyrockets from there: most kids — a startling 69 percent — have their own phones between 11 and 14 years old, and nearly all teenagers from 14 to 17 years old have one (85 percent).
Not sure if they can handle all that freedom? Scroll through our recommended timeline to see if they're ready.
If you have a little one running around the house, your best bet is to stick with toy phones for a while. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that parents focus on "creative, unplugged playtime" for infants and toddlers in their screen time recommendations. So giving your kid a cell phone at this age is definitely a no-no. If you can't keep their little fingers off your iPhone, try to limit them to less than an hour per day, whether they're FaceTiming dad on a business trip or watching an episode of Sesame Street.
If your toddler is younger than 18 months old, the AAP recommends keeping them away from phones altogether until they're a little bit older.
Parents with grade-school-aged kids definitely start feeling the pressure to get their children a phone, but don't cave just yet. Yes, they'll want to use yours to do all sorts of things, from playing games to sitting on YouTube for hours, but stick to a loaner system for now. Download a few parent-approved apps for them to use and make sure you monitor what media they're looking at.
Getting your kid a phone when they turn 10 may seem like a convenient way to make sure he gets to soccer practice or trombone lessons on time, but experts suggest holding off for now. Give them access to your phone in the evenings without adding them to your plan just yet.
Though there are plenty of parents who don't see an issue with getting their kids a phone at a younger age, studies show that kids will become more socially developed and less likely to be addicted to the screen later in life without a phone this early. Our advice? Don't say yes just because her friends already have phones.
You've heard the saying that good things come to those who wait, and that's definitely the case when it comes to buying your kid a phone.
When you finally agree to a plan with your kid between ages 12 and 14, make sure you monitor what she's using it for. According to a 2009 study from Common Sense Media, 35 percent of teens admitted to using their cell phones to cheat during tests at school.
Another thing to consider: making your kids leave their devices downstairs when they head up to bed for the night. Letting teens sleep with their phones has led to sleep loss, low energy, and poor test grades. It'll also decrease the likeliness of sexting among teens.