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Why I Postponed Buying My Daughter A Cell Phone

Why I Postponed Buying My Daughter A Cell Phone

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?

Image Source: KevenLangtu via Flickr/Creative Commons

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.

Join The Conversation
MarshaMais MarshaMais 6 years
we have an unlimited plan for everything, so the only factor is age appropriateness and responsibility. My girls are 8 and almost 7...definitely too young.
MonicaMarx MonicaMarx 6 years
I have a 14 year old who wants one. He will not have one until he can pay for it. I turned our home phone into a cell & allow him to use that on the basis of A: There is a time limit and hours. B: I have full access to all text, pics, calls. I have this same rule with all electronics & online accounts. It is our house rule and will be the same for the younger kids when they get old enough. I may not be one of the "cool" parents who gave their kid a cell phone at the age of 8, but I feel we are being responsible parents and that is what matters to me.
ElizabethCreutzer ElizabethCreutzer 6 years
This makes me feel so much better. Everyone around here seems to have given their kid a cell phone and I haven't done so. My daughter will be 13 November and my husband and I decided to get her a cell phone for her birthday. She'll be in 8th grade and then off to high school. She has proven to be a very responsible young lady. She has been begging for a cell phone for years now. I'm glad that we held off and I hope it makes her appreciate the cell phone more when she gets it. And of course if this cell phone gets abused it will be taken away. This article makes me feel so much better that I am not the only one out there who waited on the cell phone.
CarolynLewis69101 CarolynLewis69101 6 years
I won't, I don't see the need. I grew up without cells, computers, gaming systems and we are all fine and healthy today, get outdoors children! I promote outdoor living and play, and my kids are near enough to home for me to yell, no need to text!
MarieJackson76860 MarieJackson76860 6 years
Responsibility & has a job 2 pay 4 it themselves.
RebeccaLucas RebeccaLucas 6 years
I gave my oldest one of my old 'phones. I think he was about 5 or 6. I wouldn't have bought him one of his own then but as I was getting a new one, it meant my old one wouldn't go to waste. I showed him how to use it and told him that he was only to use it to call/text family. It was a really basic model which only had calling and texting on it. It had no internet facility so that wasn't a problem. As he was responsible with that (actually, he hardly used it), I had no problem buying him a new one for his 11th birthday. My original thinking was that I would be able to call him if he was out. However, he hardly every takes him 'phone out with him! It's a PAYG which still has most of the £10 credit I put on in January! It does have Internet, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi (it's better than mine but was really cheap!) He is perfectly responsible, he doesn't use most of the stuff on it anyway and I have no problem whatsoever that he had one so early. Saying that, I don't think I would trust my younger child with a cell 'phone until he is much older than that because, while he has the understanding, he does not have the same respect for rules!
NevaPetersen NevaPetersen 6 years
Both my children were 12 when they got a cell phone. And, while I don't think children much younger should have one - I really think that the right age depends on the child's maturity and on the family's needs. Do both parents work, is the child in sports and is the child responsible enough to understand how to use and NOT to use the phone.
KathleenGates KathleenGates 6 years
I didn't get my first phone till I started working, which was 18 and not for lack of trying to get a job before then. I would have to say that I would want my child to have some way to get a hold of me after she was done with her after school activities. I know they have phone plans out there where they are only able to call certain numbers. My sister got her first phone when she was 8 years old. She doesn't use it much; mostly to txt me when she's not in school.
HollySee HollySee 6 years
I agree, 12 is the right age to get a first cell phone--in our case, because that's when my daughter "graduated" out of daycare & I wanted to be able to get hold of her easily after school. I let her pick out the one she wanted (from those our phone plan offered as "buy 1, get 2 free"). She got the fancy one; my husband & I got the freebies; and she understood that if something happened to hers, she'd end up with one of our old ones. Sure enough, after about a year she left it in her pants pocket & it went thru the wash & died. Valuable lesson learned, as she had to use the very basic (no camera) older phone another year till we again got free new phones. We avoided worrying about texting by not including it in our phone plan for several more years, till I judged she was ready. This worked fine for us, and my now-16 daughter is again using one of our old phones till plan renewal--she apparently wore hers out!
erinwilson74510 erinwilson74510 6 years
My 8 yr old is alrrady alking but he won't get it what child that age needs one. Now my younger brother got one at 13 but had a prepaid phone si he had to learn the responsibility of minutes. I did buy one for my other brother at 15 with rules once they were broken he lost it. No my brother that got his at 13 this yr now that he lives with me I felt he was responsible so I added him to mycontract so far he is following rules. I also have a tracking device on it so I always know where he is so far I hv not had to use it.
PattyBell PattyBell 6 years
I am totally against kids at 10 having cellphones. I have 12 yr old triplets and no plans to get any of them cellphones anytime soon. Too many kids think they "need" them, and for some reason parents think they need the kids to have them for safety.
LeanneHamilton LeanneHamilton 6 years
I didn't get my first cell phone till I was SEVENTEEN. I paid for it myself. I would wait till my child was minimum 13-15 years old depending on maturity.
CoMMember13631153608056 CoMMember13631153608056 6 years
We got our sons phones when they were 18 and could pay the monthly bill themselves. Our daughters we waited until they were 16. We had a behaviour contract we made all our children sign stating the rules and consequences for misuse. We thought our girls needed a phone at 16 because unlike their brothers they could find themselves in situations the boys would never face.
CoMMember13631153608056 CoMMember13631153608056 6 years
My Hubby and I had our elder boys wait until they were eighteen and could pay for the monthly bill themselves. For our twin daughters, we got them phones at sixteen with a behaviour contract that set clear rules of use and consequences for misuse. We decided to get our daughters cell phones because as girls, they could find themselves in situations very different than our sons. We wanted them to have a way to phone us and we wanted a way to contact them.
Gemuine2u Gemuine2u 6 years
I bought my two daughters cell phones at the age of 12 only because I want to have access to them at all times. I don't have worry about what they're with it because I raised them to be responsible. They know right from wrong.
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