Ages for Cell Phone Usage in Children/Teens

How young is appropriate for cell phone usage? Many parents grapple with this question especially that cell phone use is extremely popular among young people today. The bar for the age at which kids are getting cell phones is dropping and is even more marked in countries outside the United States. The major reason that parents want their children to carry a cell phone with them has to do with the convenience of being able to reach their children at any time. Also, knowing that their children have a means of reaching them or the police in case of an emergency gives parents peace of mind.

However, having a cell phone is still a responsibility and children need to know that it is still a privilege not just a right. Parents need to go over guidelines on the proper use and care of the cell phone. Here are my recommendations based on research and consensus among many authorities:

  • Children younger than age 11-years of age should not be given a cell phone for personal use. Reasons for this: researchers believe that extended phone usage increases the risk of cancer and starting at a young age could be an unnecessary danger. Cell phones distract from traditional childhood activities such as in and outside play which is important for child social development.
  • Children/teens from ages 11-14 years of age can be given a mobile phone that has simple capabilities (calling and receiving calls, contact information- no texting). This allows parents or other pertinent people to have contact with their children whenever they need to.
  • Teens 15 and older can use smartphones. Smartphones have the capability for texting, using apps, assessing the Internet. Parents need to: have strict guidelines about use and responsibility, use parental controls to keep child from accessing inappropriate content on the web, have discussions about the topics of the dangers of cyberbullying and sexting, and the use of texting and driving while driving.






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