Co-Parenting,Kids,Lifestyle,Mom Life,Motherhood,Parenting

When Should Kids Have a Phone

About two weeks ago I probably became Zoey’s least favorite parent. Boo hoo it happens right? Well what was it this time?

Where do I even begin…oh yes…her dad got her a cellphone! My 7 year old has a phone! A couple of days before it happened he called me to tell me that he was planning on training her on how to use a phone for the day he decided to get her one. I said sure that’s fine in case of an emergency that would be great. Well this was on a Thursday…come Sunday I get a phone call from an unknown number-Zoey’s number! I will be completely honest I was at brunch with family and a couple mimosas in so when she called I didn’t register what was going on and just said we would need to come up with some rules. A few hours later on our way home Marcos and I were trying to figure out what rules to have and could not come up with any.

Why? Because we did not want her to have a phone at the age of 7!

This whole situation led us to research the topic of children and phones. Our goal was to figure out what is a good age for a child to have a phone. Now I am not here to bash on parents who give their kids a phone at a young age, simply we just don’t feel she should have one.

Reasons Parents Might Give Their Kids Phones:

  • Nowadays homes with landlines are very rare and it makes it harder to keep in touch when kids go over friends homes
  • To let kids know who is picking them up from school
  • Kids spent time with an adult without a phone or without an adult
  • Parents feel their child is ready for a phone
  • Parents who share custody or visitation want to feel more connected

What I Found:

  • A survey conducted by Cricket Wireless found that 35% of parents gave their kids phones between the ages of 15-18. Out of that 35%, 45% thought a better age is between 14-15.
  • A grad student studying the effect of phones on the brains of children found MRI research showed a shot of dopamine was sent to the brain when kids saw a like or comment on their social media. This shot of dopamine is what causes the addictive behavior between a child and their phone.
  • The school systems in London have been conducting studies in hopes of coming up with bans and rules for cellphones on campus. The studies they have found show giving a child a phone is encouraging children to spend more time with machines than reality. So what does that mean for our kids? Well our kids are growing up unable to recognize social cues, facial expressions, and body language as well as those kids without machines or phones.
  • Phones are easily lost/stolen/broken

So let’s say you have to get your little one a phone, we found some options for ya:

  • Many parents buy their children phones with only voice & text
  • Have your child check in the phone with you at night
  • Set clear rules
  • Let your child know you have the right to check it
  • Set parental restrictions on the phone
  • One of the most important things is to have an ongoing conversation about the dangers the internet has.
  • Remind them they need to be safe about whatever they post on social media or text.
  • Let your child know how dangerous and that they should not accept requests on social media from strangers
  • Request access to all their passwords
  • Be their friend on social media
  • Remind them that colleges in the future could have access to their social media content
  • Don’t forget to get them a sturdy case

Safe to say we will not be providing a phone for our children until high school. If the need should arise for one we will have to sit down and reassess the situation and the rules. It is such a scary world out there and to us handing her a phone is an open invitation. She does not yet know how to communicate well enough nor does she understand the responsibility of a phone. For now our rules have remained no phone in our home. Her every other weekend at her dads she has access to it and I am here trying to make sure I keep replying or I will be the jerk face mom who doesn’t text back her 7 year old. Oh the wonders of co-parenting.

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    Amanda
    June 22, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Such a touchy subject. My kids (girl-10, boy-6) have our old phones, no calling plan. Just for games. But recently, we downloaded a free texting app for my daughter for when she goes out in the neighborhood & we can reach her. But she can’t just pick up phone & start texting whoever whenever. Major limits! Good job setting up rules! I think some parents forget to do that!! Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      mammabearsays
      June 22, 2017 at 4:43 pm

      yes! see something like that I can totally get behind! I see kids with phones with no rules and parents forget the dangers out there

  • Reply
    The Wordy Mom
    June 22, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Great article and smart rules. One I’d add to your list — teach your kids not to flaunt their phones. I realize this isn’t such an issue with little kids who aren’t out and about on their own. For teens and tweens though, I’ve heard too many stories about kids being hurt while having their phones stolen. So carry them discreetly. Oh, and use headphones mindfully, especially when walking alone or crossing busy streets.

    • Reply
      mammabearsays
      June 22, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      those are both great! it can definitely be dangerous for kids to flaunt them and too many times are kids preoccuppied with their phones that they don’t look around

  • Reply
    Audria
    June 22, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    I agree with your decisions. But I also know that sometimes it is necessary. My kids are no where near close to an age to think about this. I do dread that time though!

  • Reply
    Misty Nelson
    June 23, 2017 at 7:53 am

    Oh man, this is such a hard one. Our son is only three but if he can get his hands on one of our phones, he’s a happy camper. We try to encourage him to occupy himself in other ways, but I won’t lie. Occasionally just handing over a game or a YouTube when I need a few minutes to accomplish something important or when we are out in public is a lifesaver. I don’t know at what age we will start to consider his need for his own phone. You’ve pointed out some very good ideas to consider

    • Reply
      mammabearsays
      June 28, 2017 at 5:28 pm

      Don’t worry mamma-its different than him having his own phone and accessing the internet and what not

  • Reply
    Shann eva
    June 23, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    My oldest is also 7, and I can’t imagine him having a phone. There’s no way I could trust him with that responsibility yet. When he’s older, we’ll definitely explore getting a phone with text only for emergencies. No need to be connected to the Internet at all.

  • Reply
    Rachel Catherine
    June 23, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    I feel like this is a really personal decision for families, but age that age 7 you don’t need a smart phone.

  • Reply
    Larisa
    June 25, 2017 at 8:10 am

    My kiddos aren’t quite at that age at all to consider this, but it’s definitely great food for thought. Even as an adult I know how addicting a phone can be.

  • Reply
    Diana
    June 25, 2017 at 10:20 am

    I honestly would want my kid to have a phone sooner rather than later, but it would be on parent lock-down, basically only so we can call/text to her and she can call/text us, so if an emergency arises, she can get in touch with us quick and easy. Another nice thing about a younger kid having a phone is that you can track their location, so you always know where they are.

    I am not sure about demanding to know their passwords, that is like invading their privacy. I know if my parents had done something like that, I would not have been happy. They deserve some space, but again, probably would not allow her on social media until high school (as that is when I started using Facebook) where she will hopefully understand the implications of what she chooses to share with the world.

    • Reply
      mammabearsays
      June 28, 2017 at 5:25 pm

      I think it depends on the age though. My sister was given a phone at 11 with absolutely no rules or restrictions and she has all social media-that is what scares me. Its too easy for creepers!

  • Reply
    Lexie
    June 25, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Wow! That’s so young to be thinking about cell phones.
    Thanks for sharing your research. I probably would have came to the same decision that you did.

    • Reply
      mammabearsays
      June 28, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      yes honestly to me it was not necessary although for others it is. of course hope this comes in handy!

  • Reply
    Angelica
    June 25, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    My 5-year old is asking for one because- you guessed it; one of her friends has one. Nope! Not any time soon.

    • Reply
      mammabearsays
      June 28, 2017 at 5:23 pm

      lol thats what mine tried to tell me in kinder lol noo way

  • Reply
    Jenn
    June 25, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    I know a few people who have given their elementary schoo, age children phones. It’s tough. I get wanting to have a way to talk to them. However, it’s tough for what other users a child might use it for (distractions, games). I agree with having strict guidelines and rules.

    • Reply
      mammabearsays
      June 28, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      yes it is definitely difficult with all the other things phones have access to

  • Reply
    Meghna Dixit
    June 26, 2017 at 12:04 am

    Very insightful article. I will be sharing it in a mommy group I am part of. Thank you

  • Reply
    Kaity | With Kids and Coffee
    June 26, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    My kids are still a little too young (like 4 and 1 young) to have their own phones, but we are already gameplanning this subject to decide when and how would be appropriate. Good read!

    • Reply
      mammabearsays
      June 28, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      thank you glad you liked it. definitely important to plan it out for when that day comes

  • Reply
    Katie Bressler
    June 29, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Good call Mama! 7 does seem quiet young for a phone. If they are in a an emergency situation, they will find help when needed!

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