Time for me to go on a soapbox rant. I work part time as a substitute teacher, and I tell you, every kid has a phone. Even in elementary school. Now, I’m not one of those geezers who constantly condemns technology and insists that things were “better in my day.” In fact, I think cell phones are great. Yes, even for kids. They let you have instant communication with your children, and allow immediate access to the educational wealth of resources on the web. Plus, they’re fun! However, there is a fine line that needs to be balanced when dealing with kids and their phones. On one hand, you need to monitor them to make sure they are using them safely and not giving out personal information (or god forbid, inappropriate photos) online or in messaging. On the other hand, I feel like it’s important to trust kids and let them have their privacy.
I got my first cell phone in 8th grade, when I was about 13 or 14. My parents’ rule was: if you have any sort of after-school activity where you need us to pick you up (instead of riding the bus), you can have a phone to let us know when to get you. Once you have a schedule that varies, and you make your own decisions about what to do in your free time, you are old enough for a cell phone. I think that rule worked pretty well. Undoubtedly, some kids these days are just TOO YOUNG for cell phones. Some of the older ones also don’t seem to be mentally ready for them as well. Then again, you don’t want to be the parent of the 16 year old who is left out of everything because she doesn’t have a phone.
All in all? Know your kid. I don’t think that bestowing a cell phone has a numerical age. If your child has demonstrated that they are responsible, and that they understand that anything they put online is THERE FOREVER, they may be ready.
Still nervous? It’s normal, and probably a good thing. Personally, I love this post by Rachel at Holy-Craft.com. It has a cell phone contract that teens must agree to before getting a phone! Check it out for some great ideas.