7 Things to Consider When Deciding the RIGHT Age to Buy Your Kids a Phone

Recently, on my Facebook page, I asked my readers what they thought the right age was to buy kids a phone. After reading their answers, I don't think there is a set "age" that works for everyone. As with most parenting issues, every parent must make the decision that works best for their family... but there are several important things to consider.

My boys are currently 9, 11, and 13, and I haven't gotten them phones yet... but they are asking. (My oldest used his own money to purchase a device after he turned 13, but he has no data plan yet.) If you are having this discussion with your kids, here are some things to consider when deciding the "right age" to buy your kids a phone:

1) Is the child mature enough to handle the responsibility of a phone? Kids mature at different times... so age is often less of a consideration than maturity.

2) Have you talked to him/her about bullying and social media? Kids need to be taught about the dangers of social media, and before they are given a phone, the rules about how and when they use social media need to be clearly communicated.

3) What kind of phone does the child need? Is a flip phone sufficient? Do they just need an iPod? Are they going to have wifi access?

4) How will the phone be paid for? Will the child be required to pay the monthly bill? Will the child get a job, or will they be required to do extra chores around the house?

5) Are there special circumstances that make a phone necessary? Does the child share time between two households? Does the child need to contact parents to be picked up at after school activities?

6) Does the child need a phone for safety reasons? Is he/she driving? Does he/she come home after school by themselves? Does he/she travel alone on public transit? Does he/she have access to a house phone?

7) What rules do you want to put in place around the use of a phone? Will you do weekly check ins and go through the phone together? Will the phone have restricted access settings? Are there time limits around the usage of the phone? Is the phone allowed in the bedroom... or in public areas only? Are there consequences if the child doesn't answer the phone when a parent calls or texts? What are the consequences going to be if the rules are broken?

Whatever you decide, make sure the rules and expectations are clear from the beginning and continue to have an open dialogue with your child about the phone and its usage.

You know your child and your requirements. It's an important decision, and it is one that every parent must make for themselves and their family based on their own circumstances and beliefs.

Does your child have a phone? What age did you think worked for your family? 

Gina Bell
(aka East Coast Mommy)

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