Skip Nav
This Mother's Reaction to Her Son's Fit of Anger Can Teach Us All a Lesson in Parenting
Is There a Twin Baby Boom, or Are You Just Imagining It?
Shopping Guide
The Most Instagrammable Onesies For Your Sweet Baby

When to Get Your Child a Cell Phone

When to Get Your Child a Cell Phone

Technology is everywhere, so it’s no surprise that some grade schoolers have their own cell phones. These days it's only when a child has a nicer one than an adult that it seems a bit extreme! But many parents feel that children this young should not have have cell phones at all.

Four Views on When to Get Your Child a Phone

So what’s the right age for your child to have her own phone, and how do you talk to her about responsible cell phone use? Here, Circle of Moms members and bloggers share four perspectives on when and why a child should get a phone, followed by rules that might accompany this privilege to make it workable for everyone.

1. Your Child Is In Middle School

“That’s when they start wanting to do things with friends, have extra curricular activities they may be involved with, and they start wanting to talk on the phone a lot more.” - Heather of From Crayons to Coupons


"I understood the peer pressure to have one [at this age]." Frances F. of JustPiddlin'

2. Your Child Can Pay For It Herself

"We are willing to put them on our plan so that it's cheaper, but we will not pay for it. My husband didn't have a cell phone until he was an adult and could pay for it himself. I don't see any reason for my child to have one if he can borrow one of ours, or if we have his friends' cell phone numbers." Summer K.


"If they want a phone to talk/text to friends, well, my opinion is that they'd have to be old enough to have a job where they could pay for the phone and any charges associated with said phone. Cell phones are great, but they are a privilege and not a right in my book." Julie M. of Natural and Free 

"My kids were each allowed to buy a cell phone with their 12th birthday money. Conditions were [that] it was a prepaid phone, they had to pay for their own credit (extra jobs could be done to earn extra when needed), and they always had to keep a couple of dollars credit for an emergency call if need be. They are now 20, 18 and 16. The older two have fancy phones with contracts and the youngest one would love to, but until she is 18 and old enough to sign a contact herself, she is stuck [with] prepaid." -Mardi M.

3. You Feel Your Child is Responsible

"I'm a divorced mom, and would love to give my eight year-old one of the simple 'kid' cell phones if I felt she was responsible enough to take care of it. They only have a few programmable buttons - mom, dad, 911. I think these would be useful for kids to be able to get in touch with either parent in a split-home situation." - Shai S. of The Vagabond Studio

"It's a very personal decision whether to give a child a phone — how responsible they are, etc." - Rosemary S.

4. Your Child Truly Needs a Phone

"Our daughter is ten and plays quite a few sports and is also being invited to many sleepovers. Already we have had more than one instance where she forgot to call us and we went over half a day without hearing from her (which is very nerve wracking). After that happened, we talked about letting her use a cell phone for those times that she is at someone else's home, or is at a sporting event without us. We are giving her an old iPhone that we have and we are signing her up with the most basic plan with the understanding that this phone will only be given to her when she is not with us." - Tina from ShopaholicMommy


"Now that he's riding his bike to/from school I feel better [that] he has a cell phone to call for help if needed. His phone only costs $9.99 a month so it was way cheaper than a land line." - Bonnie W

"I would say as soon as they can start understanding what a cell phone is, you can purchase just those basic track-phones and have nothing on it but basic calling. Sit down with them and tell them that its for emergencies only, like if they missed the bus from school, etc." - Lisa D.

Cell Phone Rules for Kids

Although moms don't quite agree on the timing, all do agree that there should be rules when you do finally give your child a cell phone.

"The rules we have are no phone until chores and homework are done after school, then no phone after 8 p.m. or at mealtime. This gives her time to communicate with us, or she is glued to her phone and the constant texts from friends." -Nicole B

"Our agreement has been if he wants to go out with friends off of our street he must have his phone on him, charged, and if I call he must answer. If he can't find it, or its not charged (which can be often) he can't go. It works well for us. He isn't much of a talker, so he really doesn't use it to chitchat with friends." - Candice D.

"The phone was for letting us know where she was, not to text her friends. She was allowed to text socially on weekends only. Our provider also allows us to see how many incoming/outgoing texts were sent, so she knew we were monitoring that." - Phae E. of NakedLabels


In addition to the rules above, moms suggest the following:

  • No phones at church
  • No phones in the bedroom after bedtime (Frances F. has her daughters leave their phones on the kitchen counter at night)
  • Parents have the right to check a child's texts, emails and calls whenever they choose
  • Phones can be taken away if the child is not doing well in school and keeping up with chores and other responsibilities

When did your child first have a cell phone?

Image Source: r.f.m II via Flickr/Creative Commons

Join The Conversation
milaBurke1374205622 milaBurke1374205622 3 years
You need to undertand that tecnology now is taking over i think that cell phone is not a problem as long you put rules and tell you child you are going go look his phone ones a week then you can see if there ia anything wrong or there is any bad conversation or problems with friends is great to be in top of things with you child .
RosaLia29432 RosaLia29432 4 years
Having a cell phone is also good for the safety aspect, if there is a time you need to contact your child or they needed to contact you. But to many kids and teens... a cell phone seems to be a "toy" so I'd recommend no texting after 7pm and during homework. They will definately become distracted. Believe me I have 4 girls and 3 boys! But for the most part, I think once your child begins Middle School (7 or 8th) No need during elementary :)
AmandaBynum AmandaBynum 4 years
We got my stepdaughter a phone right before her 13th birthday. She lived with her mother in a very unstable environment and we never knew how or where to get ahold of them. We added her to our plan but there are usage controls. After 9 pm and during school hours she can only call me, my husband and 911. We can monitor every number she calls and texts. And she is the only person allowed to use her phone. If she is caught abusing it we take it. She now lives with us and has chores to "pay" for the phone on top of regular chores. Now my 10 year old son is wanting a phone but he really just wants the apps and such for when we are on the go and traveling since we recently moved 7 hours from our hometown. I believe this is entirely too young and he doesn't text or call anyone so I really don't see the point. I am thinking about getting and ipod so he can use the apps. Not sure yet though.
JessicaDavoren JessicaDavoren 4 years
my parents never bought me a cell phone. So instead I saved all the money a could get my hands on, whether that was a dollar or a penny on the walk to my high school. I honestly feel like that's the way to go. Children don't need cell phones in my eyes.
Taking Kids to a Pumpkin Patch
Chrissy Teigen Asks Mom to Share Mean Stories About Toddlers
How to Help Your Child When They Are Homesick at School
What Is an Au Pair
From Our Partners
Latest Moms
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds