When Should I Give My Child a Phone?

Paige Geis Bradshaw

Cell phones used to be chunky bricks with long antennas. Now, they’re pocket-sized devices that provide an unlimited stream of information and connection!

In this developing digital age, the question is less “should I give my child a phone?” and more “when should I give my child a phone?”

If you’re considering giving your child their own cell phone, keep reading for guidance!

Does My Child Need a Cell Phone?

In short, no—your child does not need a cell phone. But really, neither do you!

Whether your children are in elementary school or high school, you likely remember what life was like before cell phones. We all survived without them for centuries, and we could do it again if we had no choice.

And while that may be true, cell phones undoubtedly make our lives a lot easier. Are they necessary? No. Do they add unmatched convenience to both your life and your child’s life? Yes!

If you’re asking yourself, “does my child need a cell phone?”, here are a handful of things to take into consideration:

  • How does your child get to school? If they walk, take the bus, or carpool, it might be handy for them to have a cell phone in case something happens or plans suddenly change.
  • Does your child enjoy extracurricular activities? If they’re on a sports team or in an after-school club, they could use their cell phone to call or text you with updates—and when they’re ready for a ride home.
  • Is your child frequently running off with their friends? Not only can they use their cell phone to keep you posted on their plans, but you can use your cell phone to track their location and make sure they’re staying safe.

Whether or not your child needs a cell phone is ultimately up to you. But be sure to consider their routine and commitments before making the call—you both could stand to benefit from your child having a cell phone!

When Should I Give My Child a Phone?

Once you’ve decided that your child is ready for a phone of their own, the next burning question is, “when should I give my child a phone?”

Because the answer will depend on each child and their needs, even the experts haven’t come up with the magic number. However, there are common sense considerations to make as well as screen time and media use recommendations to think about.

Ages 4 to 5

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry recommends limiting screen time to one hour for children under six. Between this recommendation and the crucial developmental milestones children reach in their early years, kids this age may be better off without cell phones.

That suggestion aside, if you find your child could use a cell phone at this age, consider keeping their phone’s functionality limited to talk and text.

How is that possible? With Troomi, the functionality of your child’s phone features the ultimate flexibility! Limit your child’s phone to talk and text, or allow them the opportunity to download our expertly vetted KidSmart® Apps or safely surf the web. Control it all through our revolutionary Parent Portal, where you can remotely manage and monitor your child’s cell phone activity.

Ages 6 to 9

For children older than six, it’s recommended that they spend no more than two hours on the screen every day. But at this age, kids are starting to spend more time at school and beginning to try out new activities! It may be convenient for your child to have their own cell phone.

While your child adjusts to their device, restricting their phone use to talk and text could be a good place to start. As they learn and grow, you can add additional features when they’re ready for them!

Ages 10 to 12

As your child rapidly approaches their teenage years, you’ll find that they have more use for their own cell phone. They can use it to take pictures to send their friends, play games that spark their creativity, and download apps that help them with their schoolwork!

But even though pre-teens are typically mature enough for a phone, they might need some screen time limits to prevent excessive use. And, based on user agreements, kids younger than 13 are still too young for most social media platforms—so be sure to hold off on social media until they’re older.

Ages 13 to 17

What are teenagers without their cell phones? They love texting their friends, taking selfies, and scrolling on social media!

While all of that is a-okay, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that teenagers spend an average of almost eight hours on screens every day. That much screen time can have some serious detrimental effects, from depression and anxiety to full-blown technology addiction. Setting limits to their screen time is imperative to prevent these consequences.

Teenagers are at an age that preparation for adulthood—in many aspects—is becoming increasingly important. Learning to use technology in a responsible way, as well as developing healthy digital habits, sets teenagers up for success in both their personal and professional lives.

Should Kids Have Cell Phones?

After weighing the risks and benefits that come with having cell phones, should kids have cell phones? At Troomi, we think yes! (Of course, we defer to your judgment, since you know your kids best!)

Here’s why:

  • Safety. Should your child end up in an emergency situation, having a way to contact you quickly and easily can offer an unbeatable sense of security. They won’t have to frantically search for someone with a cell phone—they’ll have their own!
  • Connection. Cell phones are the ultimate convenience when it comes to connection. Whether your child needs to contact a classmate about an assignment, plan a get-together with friends, or chat with faraway family, it can all be done on their cell phone.
  • Updates. Did your kiddo miss the bus? Is their piano lesson running over? With a cell phone in hand, your child can send a quick text to keep you in the loop.
  • Parental controls. With parental controls, you can give your child a cell phone without worry. You can review your child’s texts, check out their location, set limits to their screen time, and more!

No matter your child’s age, you can give them their own cell phone and maintain your peace of mind with Troomi. Click here to learn more about our mission—and how we’re changing the world of technology for kids!