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Poll: At what age do you think it's appropriate for kids to get a cell phone and why?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 24, 2013 7:50 AM PDT
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(NT) When they can pay for it themselves
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(NT) Agreed !!
by birdmantd Forum moderator / September 24, 2013 8:37 AM PDT
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Why parents don't owe a cell phone to their child...
by sumsan / September 24, 2013 9:41 AM PDT

Is there a cell phone or plan that is available where the only thing the child can do with it is call home or the parents' cell phones?

If not, then until that service exists no parent should supply his child with a cell phone until that child can pay for his or her own.

An extra phone, hopefully just a 3G flip phone with no message service, can be loaned for those rare occasions where a child may need to check in where there is no other adult chaperon in attendance with a phone.

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Verizon had a kids phone...
by Kabala_x9 / September 24, 2013 12:43 PM PDT

Verizon had a phone, I believe it was called the Meego that allowed you to program 3 or four numbers and that was it. It had GPS as well. This is the kind of phone I would like my kids to have that would allow them to contact home or parents cell phone in. When we start dropping the kids off at soccer practice or Karate, it's nice to know they can reach us if anything happens, or if practice ends early.

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Tweens need to stay connected with parent
by skooter2 / September 24, 2013 11:57 PM PDT

Many people have disconnected the landline and depend solely on cell phones. It's more economical. At the time children are old enough and responsible enough to be left at home alone, there needs to be a way for them to make contact with parents or emergency help. As a grandparent, I've felt that the Meego was an excellent way to help the Tweens stay in contact.

If the household has a landline, there is no need for the cell phone for that purpose.

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Cell Phone and Kids
by mossyoaks / September 24, 2013 9:50 PM PDT

Bottom line - Maturity. Some kids can handle life at 12 years of age when others can't deal with life at 40. Demonstration of maturity is more important than any numerical number. According to the NTSB cell phones are involved in 25 percent of all traffic accidents. A 12 year old isn't driving so what does this say about being responsible parents? If you talk or text while driving, guess what your kids are learning! Parents must set the example. Parents must also weigh in on what protection a cell phone can give a kid compared to a responsible adult being present. So, we think a cell phone can protect our kids because of GPS. If you kid is snatched, do you honestly think the kidnapper is going to let the kid keep the phone? Simple throw it out the window or drop it in a glass of water and the kidnapper is going to be more difficult to locate.

I agree/disagree with many of the comments posted; however, it is not the age of the child that makes them responsible. It is the values that have been learned in the home, the community they live in, the school they attend and the company they keep (peer pressure can work wonders, good or bad).

Thus, before asking someone else if your kid is old enough for a cell phone -- ask yourself.

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by Pepe7 / September 25, 2013 6:09 AM PDT
In reply to: Cell Phone and Kids

I couldn't agree more. The thread is semi-pointless since there's no shoe that fits everyone. Kids vary a great deal, just like their parents.

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I voted 8 to 10 years

I don't have kids myself but from what I have seen at 5 to 7 year old they are more closely monotored. By that I mean they don't get to stray too far from mum or dad. At 8, 9 and 10 they are starting to do more on their own, going down to the local shop for a message or going down the street with their friends. That is when they are more at risk and if I did have kids that age I would want them to be able to call for help if they needed it. To be honest I can't understand people who answered 'when they can afford it.' If your kid goes missing the police can track them from their phone so what price do you put on a childs safety?

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yes and no...
by Demaclies / September 24, 2013 12:59 PM PDT
In reply to: I voted 8 to 10 years

A phone can help them be located and help them co-ordinate with parents, but I don't think it can guarantee their safety at all... it's not a magic leash that will protect your child, keep that in mind, you still have to stranger/location proof your children, and make sure they know how to be polite so they don't encourage any grief upon themselves.

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Phones don't make kids safe. Kids make themselves safe.
by gslrider / September 25, 2013 2:23 AM PDT
In reply to: I voted 8 to 10 years

Not "safety". "Smarts"/"Intelligence". The word safety is so watered down these days. Many people have the misconstrued idea of "safety". Is it the misguided, fearful, and coerced version of may parents, to make themselves feel better? Or is the true safety of children. Because the TRUE safety of children doesn't come from parents' fearful mindset and sheltering them. TRUE safety, is teaching them to be smart...street smart. TRUE safety comes from raising children to be able to fend for themselves at a young age. This has been done for thousands of years. The mentality has only changed in the last 20 years, because of tech and the internet. These two things combined has made people lose common sense and logic, and only believe what they are told. Crime is much lower now than in times past. Just check all the stats. As a human species, we are genetically predisposed for self preservation. Meaning we will automatically always keep ourselves safe. But we are not always smart enough, or knowledgeable enough to do so. This is what we should be teaching our be smart. Once they know that, keeping safe will be an automatic thing. They will learn to stop and think before they leap. These days, parents don't teach them that. They keep them from harms way, without ever educating the to the reason why. So children end up being fearful, and have no clue as to why. Just that their parent's are fearful of things, so they should be too. This is the BEST way to get them into trouble. Cellphones are just a tool to help them along the way. But it's their smarts and what we teach them that will keep them much safer, and in turn more confident and independent on their own.

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"Cell" is the operative word

A cell phone may be useful for a parent and a child to stay in touch with each other or, perhaps, in the case of an emergency.

A "smartphone" on the other hand is a different matter. A child does not need -- no, should not have -- 24/7 access to the internet, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al.

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I voted 5 to 7 only for communication with a parent.
by lustik69 / September 24, 2013 10:49 AM PDT

With all the kidnappings and other bad things happening to our children we need a way to know where they are all the time. Someone needs to come up with a phone for parent and 911 communication only.

Other than emergency communication, I think they should be limited on use, no use in cars and have to pay for any special features. (When they are maybe 11 to 13) They spend way to much time on electronics, TV and don't pay attention to the learning, outdoors and responsibilities enough.

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Wrong mindset
by gslrider / September 25, 2013 2:34 AM PDT

First of all, you already have the wrong mindset. You make it sound like kidnappings and other bad things is rampant. You like many people follow what you see and read on the internet. The internet is not localized to your community. It's global. And the fact that millions can receive information from across the globe in seconds, it would seem that "bad things" are happening everywhere. But in the global scheme of things, these "bad things" are a very small percentage. So small, it would be considered "rare" occurrences. Now scale that down to your own community. How many kidnappings, and "bad things" happen to children in your community in a year. I bet it's also a very small percentage. Classifying it as rare occurrence. This unsubstantiated fear affects our children in a very negative way. All because adults want to feel better about themselves. And statistically, most kidnappings, child abuse, child molestations are NOT done by strangers. They are committed by people close to, or already known by the child. ie. parents, relatives, teachers, coaches, priests, etc... Rarely is it every done by a complete stranger. Your child will sooner be killed or injured in a car collision than be abducted or assaulted by a stranger. But most people will never think twice about putting their kids in car. It's this selective fearing that hurts our children more, than the uncommon possibilities. Anything is possible, but most aren't probable. If you believe the possibilities of anything can happen, you might as well crawl into a cave, and never come out. Heck, it's even possible that the cave you go into can cave in. Or the moment you step out of the bathtub, it's possible you will slip and break your neck. Or it's possible while your cooking, there could be a gas explosion or electrical fire. ANYTHING is possible. But not all are probable. And it's a mental state of the last 20 years of conditioning by the media that has made people think the way they do. They have stopped thinking for themselves, and stopped using common sense and logic. It's time to revert back to what has worked for eons. The old school mentality of parenting. It's worked for thousands of years. Can't argue with that.

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It truly depends on the kid
by Pepe7 / September 25, 2013 6:11 AM PDT

Some kids understand social media & the dangers of the internet better than others, and behave accordingly. There's certainly no broad brush strokes involved here, it's case by case.

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Use Only in House and Office

Phones portable enough to go in cars, restaurants, public transportation, etc., are NOT good things.
We got along without them for more years than not, and we were fine.
Yeah I know - I'm old and don't need to phone or text anybody every day or hour or minute. Too many people getting killed in cars because of cellphones. I don't want to be a victim.

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What is so important that it can't wait?
by ErikHockman / September 25, 2013 3:41 AM PDT

Aside from the rare emergency, I'm not clear on what is so important that it can't wait until you get home or off the road. A good portion of the people I've come across (who think they can do more than one thing at a time) do not pull them off well. As I see parades of cars turning left, I can't help but note the number of drivers (~75% women) gabbing on their cell phones. OK, I live next to a major city, but nonetheless, pedestrian beware!

I heard the excuse for texting that "Well, I didn't want to get into a long conversation." Make up your mind - do you want to have contact with the person, or not? Typing on a little iddy biddy keyboard prone to mistakes is more efficient than voice contact?

And whether it's needing a video game to get the kiddies through a church sermon, music streaming to get through homework, or keeping up to date on the latest lame gossip; I can't help but see the end product of youth having computer phones as being a short attention span. Children's attention spans were short enough prior to the digital age.

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How About Pre-Paid Plans

Heaven forbid that a parent should have to tell their prince/princess they can't have a cell phone (or anything) no matter what their age is. Knowing that mama and dada will give it to the offspring regardless, perhaps the star could do with a pre-paid phone (OMG, they might even purchase this from Walmart, Target, etc). What the pre-paid means is there are only so many minutes available for use on the phone. So if this card is used up within perhaps 30 - 60 days, well I am quite sure it wasn't for emergencies.

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Notice how the question asked about cell phones and not ...

Notice how the question asked about cell phones and not smart phones. I think that kids at any age as long as they can use it responsibly should be able to have a cell phone for emergency situations. They do not need a smart phone though. Music, browsing the web and playing games are not needs. Simple as that.

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by Demaclies / September 24, 2013 1:01 PM PDT

agreed, keep the leash tight, and the parental liability under control!

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Cellphones in middle school

Between ages 11 and 13 seems optimal for a child to get their own cellphone (based on personal experience with three children).
This coincides with middle school and after school sports and activities. Middle school children often need to call a parent for a ride when practice has ended or there is a change in after school plans. 11 to 13 yr olds are also more likely to go places (friends, scouts, sports, etc) without a parent and being able to reach mom or dad is important for both parent and child. Major cellphone carriers allow parents to block IM or texting if they feel their child is not old enough for those activities.
11 to 13 yr olds are also beginning to stay home alone for brief times by themselves and I found it very reassuring to be able to have my children call me while I was at the grocery store if they needed to. And I found it convenient to be able to call them to check in, or simply to ask "Do we need cat food ? Can you check in the cabinet?" while out shopping !
Restricting smartphones or cellphone features implies negative parenting for me. I taught my children to "do the right thing because it is the right thing to do" and we had age appropriate conversations about cellphone usage and costs involved. I paid for basic service and limited texting for middle schoolers. For high schoolers, they could pay me for extra services if they so desired and earned the money.

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I was about to post almost the same as nnfoster
by 7Fred7 / September 24, 2013 10:43 AM PDT

I would add that the decision to provide a particular child with a cellphone lies squarely on the shoulders of the parents, and certainly not on a social consensus that takes no account of fact that one child is not the same as the next, and is ignorant of a given individual's needs, capabilities and limitations. I gave my (arbitrary) vote to the 11-13 age group because that works in my family, and there's no vote option for "It all depends...".

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Kids with Cell phones

OK I believe they should have them when they are old enough to use them but the phone model should be geared to the age. Limited calling for youth ie (mom,dad,house phone emergency) not necessarily buddies at this age. My rational is that they are equipped with a GPS that could give authorities some guidance when an abduction happens. Perhaps a silent alert button and keep the phone hidden. Of course a regular GPS tag could do this but without the emergency contact ability. Say just 3 or 4 buttons bang. And as they get older they can advance to a different model,with our kids it gave us some leverage something they could lose if they got out of hand. This is just my opinion of course and it worked well for us.

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brain tumors and other problems

growing brains are more vulnerable to the electromagnetic frequencies generated. (developing fetuses are included)

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by Demaclies / September 24, 2013 1:03 PM PDT

You are absolutely correct, EMF can cause DNA damage, and this is not good for a growing child. Microwaves CAN penetrate the skull, so special shielding should be installed to prevent this issue, and mandated into all new designs... tfb it the phone gets 1 mm fatter... Safer is GOOD!

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In This World?

I would absolutely let my children have a cellular device if only to protect them from dangerous predators, and to certainly keep up with technology; it is the future of continued technology that they will have to know to compete in the real world of the future!

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When kids should have a cell phone

If you don't have a land line, your kids need a cell phone! If your kids are home alone while you are at work, they need a cell phone. If you let them out of your sight, they need a cell phone.

I'm not advocating an iPhone or other smart phone, but rather a basic communications device. I told my kids I'd pay the 9.99 for their lines, and they could share minutes. If they started to consume too many shared minutes, they were cut off other than to call us parents.

I told them they could watch TV and gave them a list of shows they could NOT watch and they respected this. I don't think I have abnormal children - just ones who were told what was expected of them and they were held to that.

When they could afford to pay for a data plan or messages or the spiffy phones, I allowed them to purchase them.

When they start driving, you need to lock their phones in the glove box!

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High school sports, and academic activities were what got me to get a phone for my daughter. Prior to that, there were two times I wished she had a phone. She was the last to get one in her circle of friends, and doesn't seem worse for the "delay" (in my opinion). Prior to the phone she was able to text via her iPod, and our home phone worked great for calls.

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When needed

We did not want our son (middle school at the time) to have a cell phone until the day the bus dropped him off two miles from home and he had to go to a strangers house to ask them to call us. Never again. Stuff happens. We set the rules and he followed them. He is a college now, so far so good.

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A lot of adults cannot use the phone appropriately. being loud in a restaurant, or such place. driving is impaired, social gatherings when people want to socialize but they would rather talk on the phone, etc.. blah blah blah. What makes a person think it would be different with a kid.

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Teach them manners
by Pepe7 / September 25, 2013 10:04 AM PDT
In reply to: adults

Don't lump my kids or I with those idiots. My kids have been taught to behave (especially in public) with devices that have the potential to annoy others. The loud conversations are kept at home where they won't tick off anyone Wink

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