When is old enough for a cell phone?

When is old enough for a cell phone?

Is there a lot of whining in your household from a child who wants a cell phone?

You are not alone. Today, the average age of a child with a smartphone is 10.3 years. But experts say there is no “right” age to get your child a phone.

“Parents know their own child,” says Dr. Shrinal Vyas, a pediatrician at Advocate Children’s Hospital. “Parents know what it takes to be responsible enough to carry a phone. Only parents can decide if their child is mature enough.”

Many experts suggest parents should ask themselves these five questions:

  • Is my child independent enough to carry a phone?
  • Does my child need a phone for safety purposes/Do I need to be able to reach her or him?
  • Is my child responsible enough to carry something of such value?
  • Do I trust my child to make good decisions about usage, like texting, internet access, etc.?
  • Can my child accept limits – know when it is and is not appropriate to be using a phone?

“Parents do need to realize that a phone gives their child access to all that is on the internet—the good and the bad,” says Dr. Vyas. “It also makes them more vulnerable to cyberbullying. Before you buy the phone, negotiate terms with your child. Let them know your expectations right up front.”

Dr. Vyas also suggests parents consider parental apps that help in monitoring usage.

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Comments

One Comment

  1. Angela Hacke

    My son just turned 11 and the majority of his classmates already have phones in 5th grade. We are holding out for middle school, where he will be further away and on a different schedule than the primary school. But now looking at these questions – I can also tell that he is not responsible enough for a phone. He is locker is filled with forgotten Tupperware, sweatshirts and the like! Hopefully he will mature before next school year!

About the Author

Evonne Woloshyn
Evonne Woloshyn

Evonne Woloshyn, health enews contributor, is director of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. Evonne began her career as an anchor and reporter in broadcast news. Over the past 20 years, she has worked in health care marketing in both Ohio and Illinois. Evonne loves to travel, spend time with family and is an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan!