At What Age Should Kids Have Cell Phones?
This seems to be a very common question for parents: “when should my kids get a cell phone?” There’s also another age-old question that goes something like: “when are my children ready to get a cell phone?”
In essence, these two are kind of almost the same question, but a little different. The common denominator in them, however, is age.
What Parents Think
Knowing when they’re ready and they’re responsible enough to get a phone is arguably more important than determining some arbitrary age. With this, we’ve talked to some parents and asked them about their opinions on the subject.
Surprisingly enough, there are a good number of people who said never, some say 30, while others say 20. Of course, by the time they reach that age, they probably have enough money to get themselves a brand new cell phone.
It’s safe to assume this as a bit of a joke. Come to think of it, at 16, kids can already drive, and then a few years later, they can move out, vote, go to college, and/or attend university all on their own.
It’s always funny when parents who have devices tell their kids that they’ll never ever get a cell phone. It’s just kind of this weird disconnect altogether. So to truly grasp the reality of today’s kids and cell phones, let’s have a look at some key numbers.
Facts and Figures on Kids Cell Phone
One study says that 95 percent of teens have a smartphone, so let’s put these studies down at the bottom. Another study by the Kaiser Foundation says most teens–meaning 85% of those aged 14 to 17, so do 69 percent of 11 to 14-year-olds, and–surprisingly enough–31 percent of kids aged eight to 10 have cell phones.
Another study says these days, the average age when kids get their first smartphone is around 10 years of age, according to a Calgary based parenting expert. These are eye-opening statistics, to say the least.
Should Parents Be Worried About This?
Exposure to mobile devices often begins at a much younger age. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly common to see toddlers willing smartphones and strollers and preschoolers just kind of zoned out in front of their iPads at restaurants.
Let’s just go through some considerations when getting kids’ cell phones to put things in perspective.
The Inevitability of Kid Cell Phones
Children will eventually need and get a phone at some point in their life. As a parent, you probably would let this be known in all conversations with kids about when they might get a phone. So, stop saying–even jokingly–that your kids will never get a phone because they all will.
The Practicality of Tablets
Tablets are basically larger, relatively more powerful phones. There’s this large disconnect we often hear from parents who say their kids will never get a phone, but then they have an iPad, it’s the same. The only difference is the ability to actually physically call someone, which by the way students rarely ever even do.
The Concept of Fear-Based Parenting
When we hear statistics of kids getting phones below sixth grade, more often than not, we’re really dealing with or seeing a lot of fear-based parenting. They say statements like “well, what if I need to get hold of them?” There’s no need to get hold of young kids, you can call the school if you need to. And if you really want to be able to call them in case of emergency, you can get the cheapest old flip phone, not a smartphone that’s worth $1,000.
The Level of Maturity
Smartphones have access to everything in the world. Apps, particularly social media platforms, are breeding grounds for everything that’s wrong in the online world. If you’re going to get your kid a cell phone, there needs to be a lot of teaching around these conversations.
The Effect of Kids’ Cell Phones on Their Sleep Patterns
We should also address the sleep issues. People–from kids to teens, to adults, to even seniors–are so glued on their devices that it has become normal for them to stay up late. Maybe you should have rules along the lines of no phones in bedrooms or turn off the internet at a certain time.
The Dangers of Texting and Driving
You know when your kids start to drive, you can turn on this Do Not Disturb while driving in the settings of an iPhone. It’s a good thing for all of us to do. Enough said.
The Idea of a New “Coming of Age” Ritual
In more ways, kids’ cell phones are the new coming of age ritual. It’s a big deal to them. And we might not think it’s important for kids to have a phone, but they might feel differently.
The Value of an Open Line Between Parents and Children
We need to realize that as adults, kids communicate digitally today more than face to face. So if your kid doesn’t have a phone at a certain age, they’ll feel left out of conversations.
The Peer Comparison
When your kids say that they’re the only one in their eighth-grade class without a cell phone, chances are they might be right.
Now let’s go back to the original question of “what age?” Fun fact: Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, says his kids waited until high school. Some parents are saying they’re a little earlier than that.
Based on these above-mentioned statistics and considerations, we can assume that the most ideal time is somewhere around eighth grade. At this age, kids are most likely old enough to take some personal responsibility for having a smartphone.
How about you, what do you think is a good age to get your kid’s cell phones? Be sure to leave a comment down below. We always look forward to reading them.
Korey has been a security consultant for fortune 500 companies, focused on penetration testing (pen testing) and executive asset protection for over 15 years.
Based on Rhode Island, Korey believes everyone should be mindful of security — especially in these times where information is passed through everywhere we go and is passionate about sharing solutions no matter what your budget is.