At what age did you get your child their first cellphone?



Being one of the writers here at the-Gadgeteer and the father of the Gadgeteer Kid, I am wondering when you tech-savvy, gadget-junkies got your children their first cellphones??? The Gadgeteer Kid is nearing his eighth birthday and that got me thinking at what point should we get him his very own phone. We have various nieces and nephews that became ‘connected’ before they reached 10. And if you go into some of the fancier malls across the country, the kids (yacking on cellphones) seem to be getting younger and younger (although with me getting older at twice the rate its difficult to tell if its just my perception…..). Please let us know your thoughts 🙂

Posted in: Kid Gadgets
{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Jennifer Shelamer August 12, 2009, 4:41 pm

    My oldest was 8 when she got her first cellphone; it was because her best friend’s parents didn’t have a cell phone, and they once returned her 2 hours later than planned. I was frantic, and I couldn’t reach them. I couldn’t make them get a phone, but I could make sure my kid had one. My second was 7 when she got hers, and that was because we’d gotten a divorce, and she needed to be able to reach both parents at any time without asking permission from the other parent (or calling on a landline in a public area of the house). Both girls have been responsible, both with the phones themselves and with their usage.

  • A.J. Repp August 12, 2009, 4:46 pm

    I would have to say that my wife and I will probably get our son his first phone at age 12. However we are both big advocates when it comes to child safety, and with that said there are plenty of devices out there for a younger child around the ages of 8 to 11 can have and use. And these devices are strictly made for emergency purposes only. I dont think anyone under the age of 15 should have any type of device that they can access the internet or instant messaging… There is no need for them to have that kind of access… and then for kids 12-20 there are phones aimed at that demo as well. I’m sorry but one more thing … if you do not have a job then you have absolutley NO need for any type of smartphone.

  • Janet Cloninger August 12, 2009, 4:51 pm

    My daughter got her first cell phone when she was in the third grade and was going on a 3-day-2-night field trip without Mom or Dad. We got her a prepaid cell, and she never got to use it except when on a school trip of some sort.

    She’s a rising 8th grader now, and she has a regular cell phone and she’s on the family plan. She still doesn’t get to use the cell phone for random calls. She can call her friends on the house phone. Her cell phone is for MY convenience – not for her to be continually connected to her friends. But then, I’m not a person who is continually on my phone. I have it in case of emergency, so maybe my usage patterns impacts how I let my child use her phone.

  • Ben Udkow August 12, 2009, 4:55 pm

    Disclosure: I work at Verizon Wireless.

    Get Chaperone. That way you can control where, when and who your kids call, and also you can find them at any time on a map.

    However, every time I see someone who looks younger than 16 chatting on a phone I always roll my eyes and think how silly that is that they have a cell phone for anything other than emergencies.

    Having said that, I know that when my kids are older I’ll be no match for their “pleeeeeeeeeease Daddy” argument and will get them phones at a young age as well. 🙂

  • Christopher Spera August 12, 2009, 5:07 pm

    My daughter was 12 when I got her a Cingular Firefly. It was good for a while, but proved to be problematic when the teen texting phase started. She took 1 of my older smartphones when we moved back to Chicago about 3 years ago.

  • Jhon August 12, 2009, 6:07 pm

    I’ll don’t think I’ll ever get my kids cell phones (currently 9 and 7). Beeing a kid turning in to an adult is hard enough without the host of temptations that arrive with a cell phone. My teenage neice/nephew had major problems with self-control — and I’ve seen too often how it adds to any problems that already exist between parents and kids (and not just with my neice/nephew).

    I MAY get a crippled cell phone (like a firefly) or somesuch for emergency calls.

    As far as the “pleeeeese daddy” problem… heh. luckily, on something like this I am hearing impaired.

  • Joel August 12, 2009, 6:17 pm

    I thought I read recently that the jury is still out on radiation from cell phones and somebody’s recommendation was that young children not use them very much as their brains are still developing. Not sure who that somebody was (Gov, AMA, etc.) and I’m too lazy to search…but figured I’d throw it out there.

    That being said we got our kids cell phones when they turned 15 – but that was also about 4-6 years ago – the bar has probably been raised (lowered?) these days.

  • Simon August 12, 2009, 7:09 pm

    My 9 year old son wont be getting a phone any time soon, I don’t see the need, at least until he starts High School. For those times when he might need to call, we make sure he has a few numbers he can call and tell him to politely ask to use someone else’s phone.

  • Claire Strodtbeck August 12, 2009, 9:22 pm

    I got my first phone when I was 17. It was a T-Mobile prepaid Nokia something-or-other that I paid for myself, because my mother refused to get me a regular phone. I ended up selling it after I turned 18 (along with like 2500 minutes on the phone) and got my first contract phone with AT&T.

    I was also the first person in my family to have a cell phone. Guess I was just more forward-thinking than the rest of ’em! 🙂 Most ironically of all, I bought my mother a cell phone for her birthday last year so that she’d have something in emergencies – and it’s a T-Mobile prepaid deal.

  • Krishna August 12, 2009, 9:45 pm

    Today is my son’s 10th Birthday and he just got Sony Ericsson C905a as a gift. I personally hate letting him have phone so early but hearing from other friends whose kids already have, I figured it will be quite useful on rare occasions when we wished he had a phone. Moreover, adding him to family plan was cheap and the phone is just $50 on amazon. He picked the phone as he thought it’s the best camera phone out there in US with carrier discount.

  • JoeBorn August 12, 2009, 10:45 pm

    I got my daughter a firefly a couple months ago, she’s 6. She didn’t ask for it and didn’t seem particularly excited about it. She’s used it exactly twice and it’s served it’s intended purpose, to call me or her mom when there’s a problem.

    Prior to getting it, she didn’t have her swimsuit one day at camp and instead of calling, the counselors made her sit in the sandbox for 90 minutes while the other kids swam. $10/mo is a bargain to avoid that kind of nonsense.

  • Sergio August 12, 2009, 10:47 pm

    My oldest daughter got her first cell phone for her 14th birthday. She’s on our family plan and we have unlimited family texting. She barely uses voice, but sends about 2500 texts a month!

  • Ben August 13, 2009, 2:48 am

    Just thought i’d contribute a comment here, I dont have children. As far as i’m concerned when i do they wont be getting a mobile until they have a job and pay for it themselves, I didnt need or have one growing up and i really dont think they are neccessary.
    After all they get sick or anything at school the school can ring you. If the other parents dont have a phone if they are at a sleep over it’s called a payphone simple was when i was a child.

  • Elizabeth Daugherty August 13, 2009, 10:04 am

    As long as parents teach cell phone courtesy (IE: you don’t need to be texting and yakking on it completely oblivious to what is going on around you) and cell phone responsibility ( no you can’t call your friend while she’s sitting directly across from you at the lunch table and run the bills up sky high), I would say seven or eight years old. But parents really need to teach cell phone courtesy and cell phone responsibility and be consistent. Otherwise, a cell phone can be a useful tool.

  • Rob O. August 13, 2009, 11:30 am

    I’m 45 and only reluctantly got a cell phone last year when I was out of town often and my Mom was in & out of the hospital. That seemed like circumstances that warranted the expense.

    I’m as concerned as any other responsible parent for the safety of my child, but I’m also a staunch advocate for children being allowed to just be children. We’re turning them into electronics gurus and digital consumers before they’ve even had their first pimple! Kids need opportunities to learn how to thrive in the real, analog world with face-to-face interactions before getting thrust headlong into the cyberworld.

    I’m also a fierce advocate for kids learning to be self-sufficient problem-solvers. Cell phones steal the independence & rationale from children who carry them. They no longer have to mentally map out what they’ll be doing for the remainder of the day or if they’ll need something from someone else at some point in the day. Instead, they just wander blindly off into the day, knowing that they’re never more than a button-press away from helicopter Mom who’ll swoop in and rescue ’em at a minute’s notice.

    One of my co-workers has a very appropriate motto: Just because you CAN do a thing, does not necessarily mean that you SHOULD do that thing. Few adults even have a legitimate need for a cell phone. Children certainly do not!

    Schools are squandering thousands of dollars for the sake of trying to ban and/or restrict cell phone usage among students – and this to address a problem that we’ve carelessly created for ourselves.

    And lastly, at a time when the economy is tighter than ever, who really has another disposable chunk of cash to throw away needlessly each month when schools all have landlines that cost nothing for your child to use?

  • Jhon August 13, 2009, 7:09 pm

    Rob O:

    Hear hear! (stomps his feet in approval)

  • Gwen August 13, 2009, 10:44 pm

    I am a mom to seven kids. My oldest got a cell phone when he got his first summer job (to call home for pick-up). Just a simple prepaid phone. My next son got a cell phone when he was 11. He plays sports and travels A LOT. We had an incident not too long ago where he was being contacted by a girl older than him that the family didn’t know. His number was given by an older friend who thought it was funny. I got on the net looking for a safer cell phone alternative for minors. I found KAJEET! I am so glad I did. The contact manager was the selling point for me but they also have a time manager, wallet manager and gps. Their rates are great. I believe so much in cell phone safety for kids and the fantastic services Kajeet offers I became part of the mom sales team. I want other parents to be able to feel that their kids are safe and not too distracted by having their own cell phones. visit my website and feel free to contact me any time

  • flyerdude August 13, 2009, 11:27 pm

    My daughter, 8, begs for a cell phone every single day and has since she was 6. My son, 10, could care less. Interesting to read all the thoughts here. I think we’ll hold off until she’s at least 12 and he’s 14 and only then if they’re doing so many activities that we think it’s warranted. And it will only a “kid-friendly” phone on a pre-paid basis (that will come out of their allowance so they can learn the value of a minute on the phone). I’ve heard horror stories about what kids are already doing with smartphones… They’re growing up fast enough as it is!

  • Kristen August 18, 2009, 1:04 pm

    We got 2 of our sons a kajeet phone to share. We ended up liking it so much we bought them their own and pulled our oldest (13) off our family plan and are adding him onto kajeet as well. The parental controls are amazing and cant be beat. We used a promo code we found for 15% off too. Coupon Code: 1115

  • Terry August 27, 2009, 1:31 pm

    My 10year old daughter just got her first phone this summer, I gave her a Motorola W376 Tracfone with DMFL, camera, bluetooth, web access, FM radio and built in games; a great phone to start with. I decided that Prepaid would be a good way to learn responsibility and economy of spending (minutes) – she is thrilled with it.

  • ANgelC August 27, 2009, 7:00 pm

    Our eldest, 14, got a phone earlier this year. We also went with the prepaid variety of phone. It’s just so much better for kids for so many reasons… No huge unintentional bills, for one. I don’t want my kids to spend hours on the phone so we limit the number of minutes. The NET10 phone we got her works very well. The coverage is great and the price is really reasonable. Very simple to use and keep track of how many minutes are available too.

  • malhury September 5, 2009, 2:04 pm

    well i get a phone this year! (12th birthday)
    But i have been begging my parents for one since i was like 9!
    Because all of my friends have one and there always texting each other and i wish i could too!!
    Cant wait because im getting the env touch!!! 🙂

  • anonymous February 12, 2010, 6:52 am

    NEWS FLASH! Your child of 10! can by her own phone! You will not be involved. They go to the store. Buy a phone. Pay money on it. And it’s theirs. You will not have the number.You may not even know about it. And on Facebook there is a page on which they all broadcast their numbers to the world: “Just got my new phone need numbers.” With all the work done to protect kids’ identities, this does not make any sense. Madison Avenue is putting your child at risk. I see so many CHILDREN with cell phones, a little family member included. I asked where she got it. She said, “I saved up and bought it.” Last night I called Virgin Mobile to ask what their official policy is. Their pages are unclear. One page stated “13,” yet when one signs up, one must state that one must declare s/he is over 18. No ID check required. BUT VIRGIN SAID, “They have to be at least ten.” What?! I asked “How do you veryify their age?” The rep told me: “We enter it in a computer.” Now I know why they ALL have phones whether you know it or not. I am not okay with this! You might want to check it out.

  • DT March 14, 2010, 4:34 pm

    Nowadays, more and more families have both parents working. This fact make communication extremely important. Especially if you kids have lots of after school activities. I know this is true for us. Our boys have either football, baseball, basketball, after school clubs and more. Most of the time, these activities end at different times. I realize I’m either waiting in the parking lot for 30-40 minutes or my kids are waiting 30-40 minutes for me to pick them up. Now they can text me if they are running late or ending practice early. We use Kajeet because they are prepaid and the parental controls are awesome. We can monitor how and when the phones are being used. The phones are always set to “off”during school and past 10pm. I highly recommend Kajeet if your family needs a better way to communicate. Shop from and you can get 15% off your entire purchase. Or you can use promo code “BARGAIN” at checkout and save 15%

  • coco April 17, 2010, 10:29 am

    i got my 1st phone when i was 8 iam now 13. I got my 1st phone because all my friends had them and i was easer to get i touch with them. Some people say that kids my age shouldn’t have them but me and most of my friends walk home and go shopping together and if something happened and we didn’t have a phone we wouldn’t be able to get in touch with eny1 and a last year my mum had to go to hospital and my dad was still at work so i had to go to my aunties after school and if i hadn’t of had my mobile i wouldn’t have been told if it wasn’t for my cuz phoning me to ask were we wore going to meet up after school so we could go to his house (my family had phoned in school to ask them to tell me but they didn’t tell me)

  • Vader April 30, 2010, 9:43 pm

    I got my kid their first cell phone at the age of 8. I felt i need a way to keep in touch when they were out and for them to reach me in case of ermegancy. I get them a net10 prepaid phone, which was cheap for me its only 15 a month for service and a flat 10 cents per minute. With that i dont empty the bank and i get a lot of control over how many minutes they use. Its worked out well.

  • Anthony June 29, 2010, 11:14 pm

    Kids these days are getting cell phones at younger ages then you could believe. All my sons friends were getting cell phones or had cells phones so I felt the pressure to get him one as well. He is 10 years old. I got him a tracfone for about $20 and a $20 airtime card that gave him 60 minutes of talk time. He mainly only uses his phone to call me or his dad so a tracfone was a great option.

  • Angela July 19, 2010, 2:36 pm

    I got my first cell phone for my 12th birthday, which i think is the youngest someone should be. I mean, really? EIGHT year olds with cell phones?! i mean I guess its logical if it is strictly a CALLING only phone. NO internet or texting.

    So when I got my phone, I was most unfortunate to have NO texting >:( i have now had my phone for a YEAR, I am going into 8th grade and I still do NOT have texting. I feel like my mom is crazy and its hard and embarrassing. All of my friends have texting and its also embarrassing when someone asks for my number and I have to say “oh.. yeah well i don’t have texting”

    I was talking to my friend today (15 yrs old going into 10th grade) and she feels that i should DEFINATLY have texting in 8th grade.

  • rebecca May 16, 2011, 3:17 pm

    I think they should get one when they start high school/secondary school.

  • joey362 May 4, 2013, 1:20 am

    I got mine a month ago at age 13,it was an htc evo 4g.Although I think a kid should only get a phone if their ready and need it.

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