[TAG] parents, cell phone, kids, mobile, when [/TAG]

Note the title states “When” not “If”. Parents today realize that cell phones are pretty much a way of life for today’s communication needs. The question is, when should you give your child one? I have seen kids as young as 6 with thier own cell phones. Others don’t get them untill they’re 14 or in high school.

There’s really no one answer to this question. The parents have to judge their children’s ability to take care of the device and their responsibility level. Some 8 year olds are alot more responsible than some 18 year olds. We’ve all seen it.

Personally, I think Middle School is a good place to start. It is at this stage in a child’s life that they start having to make their own decisions, and determine for themselves which actions are appropriate for which situation. They also tend to start extracurricular activities at this point and staying after school unexpectedly or having a practice spur of the moment tends to occur. A cell phone would be a great way to communicate changes in schedule to the parents.

This is also the age where kids tend to be away from their parents or family members and more susceptible to the whole “stranger danger” thing. The ability to call your parents and or family member should something occur is a great tool and creates peace of mind for the care giver(s) of the child. Children at this age tend to want to be on their own and having a cell phone allows them the freedom to take care of a situation on their own or calling mom and dad for help.

Now, this is all Dependant on how “mature” the child is. This is something the parents will have to judge for themselves. they have to be honest with themselves as well. Did they raise their kids by spoiling them and giving in to every little whiny cry for something just to quiet them up?, or did they teach their kids that you don’t get everything you want and when you do get something you take care of it?

I used to own a magic shop and one child in particular I remember. He was no more than 9 years old and was browsing the store. When I approached him to see if he needed help he politely declined saying he was just looking and waiting for his mother to return from the other side of the store. When she came back (she bought some magic tricks) she asked him if he was ready to go get his camcorder. She must have seen the look on my face as if to say (You’re buying this kid a camcorder?) and explained that for months the boy had saved his allowance to purchase it. This type of child is a perfect candidate for a cell phone.

Ultimately, the parents will have to judge their child and themselves. I highly suggest a prepaid phone initially. This will allow the child to use the phone allot that first month or so without worrying about the charges. We all know what it’s like when you get something new, you use the heck out of it just because it’s new and cool. Soon the “newness” wears off and it becomes just another tool. It is at this point when you can consider a postpaid account.

Each child will get a cell phone at a different age. It is the responsibility of the parents or care giver to decide when the time is right.