Hey, Mom and Dad. When Should Kids Get Their First Cell Phone?

Parents, Patch wants to hear from you on the questions that get families talking.

Welcome to "Hey, Mom and Dad"—a weekly feature in which we ask our Facebook fans to share their views on parenting. Every week we get the conversation started by taking a look back at a question we asked parents the week before on Patch Facebook pages from around the area:

Your child is 10 years old and insists he needs a cell phone in his life to keep him safe and in constant contact with his friends. What do you do? Run out and put him on the family plan? Or, tell him to wait until he can get a job and pay for it himself? That leads us to this week's question:

What is the appropriate age for kids to have their first cell phone?

Take a look at what people had to say and join the conversation in the Comments section.

Margaret Postmus VerVelde: Freshman year for sure. My youngest got one in 8th grade so we could keep track of her while she was at club volleyball. —on Palos Patch Facebook

Cindy Eskra- Fogu: When they can pay for it. —on Palos Patch Facebook

Diane Pijus-Bolda: When they are a freshmen. And I definitely would not be buying them an IPHONE. on Palos Patch Facebook

Ashley Stachniak: My parents gave me a cell phone when I got my license. And when I didn't answer their calls I got the phone and my keys taken away! —on Tinley Park Patch Facebook

Mia Novoa: As soon as my son can afford to pay his own cell phone bill, he can have his own phone. Until then, he can use the house phone or my phone to talk to his friends. That's how I was raised too. —on Tinley Park Patch Facebook

Denise Ardisana-Tubeszewski: my son plays sports he never gets out at same time after practice so the phone saves me time sitting at the school. —on Tinley Park Patch Facebook

Larry Klein: I gave my kids phones when they learned how to drive. So 16. Each month they got $25 worth of service. If they ran out of service they either put more money on their phone, or they couldnt drive the car. They learned a lot from this practice. —on Homewood-Flossmoor Patch Facebook

Kate Duff: I think also this is one of those areas where parental modeling is really important. If your phone is just about surgically attached to your ear and you can't get through a meal without texting somebody about it, you can't really blame your kids if that's how they think phones should be used. And Jen, I agree about the phones being for the parent — the peace of mind in knowing my kids can always get in touch with me is SO worth it. —on Homewood-Flossmoor Patch Facebook

Rami SteadyMobbin Sneineh: It will teach them responsibilty, however could cause a major distraction from education and family time. There must be a limit in using it, like no phone allowed during dinner and homework time. —on Orland Park Patch Facebook

So what's your take? Do kids need a cell phone before they're old enough to pay for it themselves? Tell us in the comments below.

lala October 02, 2012 at 11:00 AM
I gave my son a phone when he was in junior high due to him being involved in sports. Nothing fancy, just my old phone. He is now a freshman and just moved up to my old smart phone. Kids don't need all the bells and whistles in my opinion. Have rules and enforce them. Mine are: no phone at the dinner table, no phone when doing homework, no phone after 10 pm.
Tom October 02, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Radiation is a danger so not until they are in high school.
Connie Lemon October 02, 2012 at 01:36 PM
I gave my son a phone as soon as he was old enough to stay at home without a babysitter. We do not have a land line so this was essential for safety. I got him a simple trac phone and it served its purpose.
Dr. Ken Brookwether October 02, 2012 at 01:55 PM
I gave my son an iPhone when he was in 4th grade. He was never very popular at school until he obtained this fancy gadget. He has many new friends now and has more self confidence.
tmarc75 October 02, 2012 at 02:17 PM
JR October 02, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Parents like you are the reason that we have our kids wanting fancy phones and complaining that so-and-so has an iPhone, why can't I? I hope that he overcomes his need for a crutch to fit in. If not, he will be hitting you up for a brand new Camero on his 16th birthday, and fully expecting you to come through.
Chronicles of Bob October 02, 2012 at 03:11 PM
I gave mine a phone when he was able to count to a 10... I mean how else would he be able to call me at the OTB?
VMPK October 02, 2012 at 03:11 PM
My son is 8 and has asked several times for a cell phone and my husband and I have gone back and forth about it many times,but came back to the conclusion that he doeant need one at 8 and we didn't have them when we were his age! My niece is 13 and has one and its always connected to her face or fingers for texting!
Dr. Ken Brookwether October 02, 2012 at 03:28 PM
It's not so much a crutch as a conversation starter. He has gotten quite proficient at using the iOS SDK and now has 6 apps on the iTunes App store. One of his creations has garnered him nearly $14,000. His siblings favored the BMW when they reached the age of 16.
Sarah Burke Novoa October 02, 2012 at 03:31 PM
My girls are still young, but I say that it depends on the age and activities they are in. And if they are old enough to be home alone and responsible enough to have one. I will most likely put them on the family plan but with a basic phone, no smart phone. Just so i know that they can get ahold of me and/or i can reach them when needed. When they can work and pay for the service that is required to have a smart phone then maybe, as long as they can show they are responsible enough to have one. I will also set rules and enforce them no matter what phone they get.
Amy October 02, 2012 at 03:48 PM
I gave my daughter one when she was 7 since she walks to school.
SharonC October 02, 2012 at 03:58 PM
4th gr? iphone? i really hope DR. is your user name on here and really not your profession...so your teaching your son that you can buy your way through life? wow..thats crazy!!! And you think as a parent thats ok? smh...teach your child to be who he is and except the friends that like him....those will be his true friends to the end...not some phoney ones that get bored with him and his new gadgets....than he'll be discouraged once again...dont you see the pattern your teaching him???
SharonC October 02, 2012 at 04:06 PM
my youngest is almost 10...no he can not have a phone to carry around when he wants...i give him a cheapy to carry on him when he is outside next door playing etc...thats it...even tho he can only play in the front or back yard at the neighbors i still want him to have it on him for emergency purposes only...when he's working...than maybe...that all depends on his grades in school etc...if he can affored it, and the grades are good...i would say high school....but even then...if the bill is late 1 time..or grades start dropping....NO CELL PHONE!!!!!...yea im old school :)
Chronicles of Bob October 02, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Id go audi.... chicks dig it because its in the new bond movies...
BEATING JJN AT NFL PICKS October 02, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Stay away from the Audi! They just scream, "I'm middle aged and have a very small penis!!!". Just saying....Google it! Sorry no link.
Billable Hours October 02, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Micropenis snap!!!!!
Bob Laird October 02, 2012 at 07:07 PM
nothing says "I need a pecker extension" like a corvette
Law Enforcement Student October 02, 2012 at 07:09 PM
My Brother an I Shared one for Emergency Purposes and to call our parents for permission to change locations (Friends House to walker Park,Ect.). and It was a Nextel PTT so We only had maybe 100 Min. a month but we mostly used the radio function b/c it was simple and Immediate. Then I got my own phone (still a Simple Flip Phone) When I went to HS. 100 min. month & 250texts a month. Rules: No phone Durring HW or after 10p.m. Answer my calls or return them Super Quick. Grades Stay in the A-B Range. 2 years later when I Started Driving I got my first Smart Phone. so I had a GPS feature. New Rules: Keep a Clean Driving record, no txting or calling while Driving be home by curfew. When Should you give your Child a Cell Phone? When you determine they need one. It's going to be different Family-Family and Child-Child. When I was younger if I wasent home I was at school or somewhere where I had access to a Landline. As I became more involved in Clubs, Sports, and Boy Scouts The need for a more permanent way to contact others and be contacted Grew.
Matt G October 02, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Any teenager who wants a phone, should go through what we all did. A BAG PHONE. Its ugly, you can't really take it out of your car, no texting, no memory to store numbers. Gives them the sole purpose of a phone, Calling only when really needed.
Titan Dad October 03, 2012 at 01:35 AM
my friend gave his 9 year old son one when he started going to the second mile camp. kept getting butt dialed and heard rhythmic slapping sounds though.
Chronicles of Bob October 03, 2012 at 01:58 AM
To Soon?
Kathy Smith October 06, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Hopefully all you parents that are saying NO to cell phones will stand by your decision, I have seen ALOT of parents give into their kids, cause this is where our society is now. Buy/ give your kids everything they want!! Really makes hard on the other parents that are instilling rules and boundaries, parents need to be parents, it's okay to tell your kids NO!
NANCY GRACE October 08, 2012 at 11:20 AM
No phones until 18
Lisa Kuban December 05, 2012 at 06:31 PM
I gave my children cell phones once they understood how to use them. They take them whenever they are away from us and we have a standard rule if you are ever anyplace you feel uncomfortable you excuse yourself, go to the bathroom and text us that you want to come home. We will come get you and make up an excuse so that there are no hard feelings with whom you were with and so we can handle the situation at home. These days you never know what goes on in other people's homes, how coaches are with kids etc. It is a safety issue. My son's bus was in an accident when he was in kindergarten. After 45 min of waiting for the bus to arrive and still no answers as to the reason for the delay from the school we got a call from the officer on the scene. My son handed him the cell phone with my number on it and said can you call my mom to come get me. We were at the scene by the time the school notified us of the accident. The officer told me how impressed he was that my son knew exactly what to do and that when he finished calling me he offered his phone to other children to call their parents. He was scared so he called. That is why my children have them. If they are at a friends and the older siblings are being mean or the parents are fighting or their friend wants them to go someplace they aren't allowed they txt us and we call say we forgot we had plans and are coming to get them. It all works out well.


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