Kids And Cellphones

Uh oh! My soon to be 11-year-old son has been asking for a cellphone. And my husband and I are not sure if we should let him have one.

To help make that decision I took a look at The Nielsen Company’s fourth-quarter 2016 Mobile Kids Report, which provided insights from parents of kids aged between 6 and 12, and found some interesting information.

According to Nielsen, 45% of kids had a service plan at 10 – 12 years old. The most predominant age when kids got a service plan was age 10 (22%), followed by 8 years old (16%) and ages 9 and 11 were tied at 15%.

The vast majority (93%) are on the same plan as their parents, and 72% have all mobile wireless services including voice, messaging and data.

There are many reasons why parents get their kids wireless service before they turn 13, such as the following:

  • Being able to get hold of their child easily: 90%
  • Child can reach out to the parent: 90%
  • Parent can track child’s location: 80%
  • Child has been asking for a phone for a while: 66%
  • Parent wants to get their child familiar with mobile technology: 65%
  • Parent has good family/shared wireless plan to cover additional lines: 62%

But, parents being parents, we still have many concerns:

  • The phone could be lost easily: 77%
  • Smartphones pose too much distraction: 72%
  • Children might spend too much time with their device: 71%
  • Lack of control of what content kids would see online: 68%
  • Children might not know how to use their phones responsibly: 67%

According to the report, the best ways to address these concerns is to include better safety controls and features to block inappropriate content (55%), better usage controls to limit access (48%) and better service plan options for children (34%).

So once a child has a phone, what do they do with it? According to Nielsen, the top activities include the following:

  • Text messaging: 81%
  • Downloading apps: 59%
  • Playing preinstalled games: 53%
  • Mobile internet/accessing websites: 53%
  • Live video calling: 46%

Wow, that’s a lot to think about. I’m going to discuss all these points with my husband before we make a decision.

What age do you think is appropriate for a child to get his or her own cell phone? What do you think of kids having phones? Let me know!

Thanks, and have a great day!

43 thoughts on “Kids And Cellphones”

  1. I believe that by age 11 kids should have,a cellphone. I’d buy a basic phone that could make calls and text only. Any internet usage would be in my house under my supervision.

    1. My grandson 9 he has a cell phone he can’t buy nothing cause we put in parents consent only plus we put in the appt so we know where he is at all time he only uses to and from school and if he goes outside we know where he is also he plays only free games on it even my mom I can track him down and I his grandmom but I’m on his appt also so we do it for safety reason since he walks to and from school and he playing outside so far he took very care of it and his phone an android perfect for him .I feel children 10 9 8 should have one for safety reasons,and his parent has to work so there able to see where he is at all times .

  2. I don’t think kids need a phone my brother lost control from his kids 9 and 11 years old because he bought a phone I don’t buy mi kids a phone until they can pay for it

    1. As a not necessity, I believe cell phones are best provided when the user can first show honesty, responsibility then pay for their own phone and service.

  3. I believe at 6th grade or 11-12 years old is the perfect to have a cellphone. If you are worried your child will search inappropriate things, then you can ofcourse set restrictions. If you are worried where your child is, you can set a gps tracker to the phone. You can also synchronize the text messages to the holders account. There is a solution to any problem. A phone is an important tool in times of emergencies!

    1. I agree with you except my grandson 9 years old and both parents work so they have a gps so they can keep an eye on him and know where he act all the time cause he walk to and from school and when he plays outside also.

      1. I agree, 6th grade (12-13 years old)where there is no more daycare and kids at home alone a cell phone with parental controls is necessary.

  4. I could allow a phone once the child reaches middle school. Maybe before if the child were to be travelling with others or off to camp. Even then, only a basic phone with calling/texting capabilities and limited to only contacting us parents.

  5. I think 11 is the good age for kids to have a phone. I got one for my grandson. If a kid is old enough to stay home by themselves they should be old enough to have a phone. Most people don’t have landline phones anymore & rely on their cell phones so a kid shouldn’t be left home alone with no phone.

  6. I think with such high divorce rate these days it is such a necessity for your child to have a cell phone. Children are living in a technological world if they are sheltered from it too much you will be failing them. So if they are taught to use it and are responible enough I don’t think there is an age limit.

  7. Young kind should have a cell phone because there is NO pay phones anymore and if they need help they will have a cell phone to get help. BUT at a young age they only need a basic cell phone..
    and the parents should teach their kids how to use it the right way. As they get older then the parents can up grade the cell phone by how old they are. If the parent buys them the best smart phone on the market at a young age then what do you buy them when they get older

  8. I understand the safety behind providing a young child a mobile device. However, usuage should be monitored closely and most parents don’t or won’t take the time.

  9. I’m 48 and didn’t even have a PC at home until I was 30. Owned one of the first “brick” phones when they came out. Still mainly use my phone for talking and the occasional text. Don’t have a good “family plan” for phone service. Still just think technology so young is a distraction and kids today lack a certain amount of “survival skills” and social skills that were key in my growing up. My girls are 15, 10, 10, 9 and honestly are rarely out of my sight anyway. Still working out all the pros and cons since they still can’t manage to pick up after themselves or not break things.

  10. Though my children aren’t of this age-group yet, the rule will be that they can have a basic cell phone at a yet to be determined age. This cell phone will not be able to take pictures nor receive them, no internet access, and texting will be how it was in the early 2000’s…. a pain in the butt.

  11. Im a grandparent who thought that my grandkids should not have a cell phone until all the shooting started taking place. Now I think it’s important for the kids to have cell phones to be able to reach out to parents at any time and a parent can reach out to them as long as you teach him to be responsible I guess it’s okay. My 3 oldest grandkids have asthma and allergy problems ages 8, 11 and 14 years old. We got them cell phones in case of emergencies. The phones have came in handy.

  12. Uh-Oh first Let me begin by stating gotta love Nielsen polls especially on data collections like this parents are going to be brutally honest.
    Next, I have three amazing boys 25-16 when got phone, 23 yrs old now 15 got phone, & 17-yrs old now first phone 14 and I am so glad I do not have younger children any longer…no, I’d give anything to go back, for day…lol
    So no offense!
    Reason I stated the above intro is for all the material we just read above, the internet scares me to death. Think about how much incorrect data adults are spreading around from the internet.
    My points
    1) you know your child, if he is responsible enough, well behaved, etc start him off with a basic yet restricted earning point system to and from school only, etc
    2) you can take it away, there’s free tracking out there
    3) it’s an amazing punishment tool🤡 lol
    4) my oldest 17, yeah still scares me still what he does on his phone.
    My millennials, especially my oldest thinks, just as the new studies are stating, that millennials think they can learn anything from YouTube!
    Wrap up!-
    There’s no correct answer
    Just remember your IN CHARGE!!!!

    1. Well said! Exactly what I would have said! All are so different, my children are 37, 30, 27 & 19. Grandchildren 18, 13, 12, 11, 3 6 year olds, 4 and 2. All kids have had phones since high school. Only grand that had one is in 6th grade public middle school. Others are home schooled or just too young.

  13. It all depends my kids were 14 when they asked for a cell. And I do regret giving them one it is addicting the family interaction from 100% to 15% all children are different of course but I do wish cell phone didnt exist in my family. 🙁

  14. I bought my son a pay as you go phone when he was 8. I think when kids start staying with friends, its easier to get ahold of them. Some phone companies allow tracking so you know where your child is at all times.

  15. In today’s world I think children should have a cell phone by age 10. For the obvious safety reasons but parents should monitor the childs usage. Technology is a great thing and if used properly can enhance one’s life.

  16. I never gave my children a phone. The phone cost as well as the service so unless they can pay the bill they did not have one. If they are in school and it’s an emergency than the school can reach out to me, we established rules before hand if they went somewhere or if they are over friends house the friends parent called me.

  17. I agree with Teresa… a basic cell phone… I’m talking early 2000’s flip flops; black and white screen; no camera and it should only be used if a parent needs to get in contact with their child. We know where kiddos are M-F during “business hours” but after schools out is when it’s necessary. Living in this day and age; dual income household; single parent household. It can be a tremendous ease of mind to parents knowing their child is only a phone call away.

  18. My now 12 year old has had a cell phone since 11. You never have to worry or learn that anew by has ended early. Using KHAN Academy is why I did more than a basic phone, teaching tools right at your fingertips.

  19. I think at 11 they should Carry a cell phone. It is just so dangerous out there anymore. I never used to think so but times change.

  20. Parents are too concerned with being their child’s friend. They do NOT need a cell phone, but too many parents want to be liked. All these kids do all day long is take their phones out during class and are texting, using the internet and using their headphones. Yes they ARE your kids (all of you posting in this board that your kids NEED a cell phone). You are delusional if you think your kid doesn’t because most of YOU do it all day at work too. Ask any District Attorney about the hell of kids with cell phones. Be a PARENT and say NO!

  21. It depends on the child. I gave my kids both on prepaid cell phones since 6th grade. they traveling on a school bus for concerts and they need to call me for pickup and they arrive at the location . The kids was only to pickup the phone when they recognize the number. I only included number is that important. They not to give number to strangers it only used for emergencies.

  22. There is no need to give a child a phone. I drop my child off at school and that’s where she stays until she is picked up in the evening. If she really need to get in touch then she would go to the principal office and call. I believe that’s the way it used to be. And no social media profile is allowed either

  23. I got both my kids cell phones at 7 and it was the best decision ever. Just the other day they had a power failure at school and my daughter had her phone and the teacher used it to light up the hallway because it was pitch black. It is the new generation and that’s what everyone needs to have no matter what age.

    1. I agree! I started with pay as you go phones when the kids were 7 and 8. Once they showed responsibility, I upgraded this past Christmas. They can view certain content, text their friends, listen to music, research content, and call various family members. We have many discussions about the responsibility that comes with the phone and the do’s and dont’s. They know to let me know if anyone calls them or tries to contact them in any way and they do not know them. It has been three years now and all is well!

  24. My husband and I agreed to allow our children to buy a cell phone and minutes only when they were old enough to travel for sports. Having to use their own money allowed them to have some skin in the game and taught them how to use their minutes wisely. Now our youngest child has been recruited from the fifth grade to participate in junior high sports; our children attend a small K-12 school. It was a difficult decision to allow our ten year old to have a phone at such a young age, but so far she has been responsible. I think it is important to monitor your child’s activity and provide guidance of the pitfalls in society so they are aware of the dangers and misuse of electronics.

  25. I agree. The most important thing is you can call your child and they can call you if necessary. That gives you an added sense of security. Both our sons have had one since they were around 11. Never have regretted it. Works well with discipline 🙂

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