Cell Phones – How Young is Too Young?

When my ex-husband decided that he wanted to get my then nine year old a cell phone for Christmas, I thought he was crazy. She did not need a cell phone, she was too young, and honestly, I didn’t want her to have that much privacy.

Any of you who have exes know that there’s not a whole lot you can do or control when it comes to gift-giving, so she got the cell phone. We immediately placed rules and limits with it, and hoped for the best. She wasn’t allowed to use it in her room, it had to stay downstairs in plain view, she wasn’t allowed to take it to school, and I would be able to check who called and who she called and also have access to her password, etc.

When I went to check her phone, I noticed that the main person she was calling was her dad, and then me on my cell phone, or at home when she is out playing. We live in a nice neighborhood with tons of kids, and I would have her take her phone with her while she was outside, so that I could be in touch if need be.

It actually worked out a lot better than I thought it would. She’s a very responsible person, she’s a good student and she does not abuse her privileges, so for us, it’s worked out well.

Some of the benefits include:

• I can get in touch with her all the time. When she’s out playing, I don’t have to go knock on every door in search of her.
• She can call me when she needs me, and check in wherever she is.
• She can speak to her father without him having to call the house, which allows them more contact when they’re not together.
• For safety’s sake, it’s a great thing. When she’s out playing, she always has access to a phone in case of an emergency.

Some of the drawbacks include:

• Where do we go from here? Once you get that cell phone, what’s next?
• It can become an issue as she gets older and wants to talk on the phone to her friends. For now, she calls them from the home phone for help with homework; she’s not that interested in chit-chatting or gossiping.

What do you think? How young is too young? What requirements would you set forth and what rules? Do you think maintaining grades or behavioral standards at school would be a good judge?

Remember, also, that for most of us who did not have cell phones when we were teenagers, that our parents let us go out without having any way to contact us. Isn’t that more dangerous in the grand scheme of things?