Home > Parenting > What is the appropriate age for cell phones?

What is the appropriate age for cell phones?

Cell phone camera

My daughter started asking for a cell phone when she was in grade two.  My response was very contained and reasonable, and included the words “over my dead body.”  Perhaps I should have chosen my words more carefully, since I am still alive and she is now in grade six.  It is safe to say she wishes me dead.

Unsuspecting people who plan on having children should be aware that procreating in this day and age also means additional phone plans, so make sure your provider is up to snuff and offers additional phones at knock out prices; at the rate we are going kindergarten will be the new high school when it comes to the age that is appropriate for acquiring hand held devices.

In my child’s defense, many of her peers have their own phones and use them to text furiously with alarming frequency.  So in effect, she is being left out of the conversation.  Perhaps the upside is it leaves those dinosaur landlines available for other members of the family; although she commandeers our home computer to Skype with her friends in lieu of texting.

Curiously I notice my children’s phone skills are suffering.  I remember getting home from school and our phone would start ringing on cue, and we would begin dissecting what happened to who in school that day, despite having just said goodbye to these friends moments before.  When my daughter’s friends call – which they do rarely -  they have monosyllabic conversations that last less than a minute; a drastic departure from the hours I used to spend with the cord wrapped around my wrist, other household members ducking underneath it on their way to the kitchen.

Remember those cords?  Or how long it took to dial “0′s” on those rotary phones?  (Our family’s number ended in 7000 – brilliantly easy to remember, but you could have dialed Europe faster.)  Or even the first cell phones, the size of a shoe box.  The changes in telecommunication  in my lifetime alone like a roller coaster ride; I can understand her desire to ride the wave.

But unfortunately for her, as dogged as she is to acquire one, I am doggedly against it.  (This does not sway her a bit from asking for one every birthday, Christmas, Easter, and Valentine’s Day that passes, however.) The health risks are inconclusive, but it makes great sense to me that putting a phone up against your ear is akin to putting your head inside a microwave.  Especially since her brain is still developing, I see no need for her to take such risks.

Of course she is quick to point out she wouldn’t need to use it for talking, since it’s all about texting.  But to that end she can easily email, which I understand is slightly slower but effectively the same. And do I really want her to own yet another little screen to stare at?

She uses the safety argument, preying on my motherly instincts if nothing else, but the fact is she is rarely if ever on her own, which is another problem altogether.  In our hovering society, she is most often shuttled to and from school, play dates and activities, seldom out of arm’s reach of a land line, or at the very least one of her friend’s cell phones.

Everyday I hear about another one her friends whose parents have caved in to the cell phone pressure; or more pointedly she tells me of the younger kids in her school who flash the little beasts around.  It is the peer argument that smites the most; I get the overwhelming desire that she has to acquire something that seemingly everyone else has.

But adversity breeds character, I tell her.  You need a cell phone like you need a hole in the head – and at the end of the day, a hole in the head is precisely what we are trying to avoid.

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  1. lucieloves
    December 7, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Keep strong D! Connor is asking for one too! If you cave, I can’t be far behind! Do it for all of us!

  2. Pam
    December 7, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    I caved and got my daughter (who is nearly 12) a cell phone before she started a new school this year. She takes the city bus to her school and I felt it might be useful just in case something crazy happened. But, if she wasn’t going that far away on her own, I would definitely wait until high school. The only reason a kid needs a cell phone these days is to text her friends (way too much) and call their taxi service to shuttle them around. Hold off as long as you feasibly can!

  1. February 26, 2011 at 12:39 am

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