Is your child starting to bug you for a cell phone? I know that Zoë, age 5, has already asked me a few times when she’ll get her own phone. That shocked me (she is not getting one anytime soon), so I was curious when kids start getting cell phones.
A survey by AT&T of 8-17 year olds found that kids receive their first cell phone, on average, at age 12.1. Of these kids, 34% have a smartphone.
So I’m not so far off on saying Zoë needs to hold off for several more years However, it’s a topic that is very real, one that we need to address and be prepared for.
According to a July 2012 National Consumers League survey, nearly 60% of parents with tweens bought their kids cell phones. The number ranges from 41% for families making less than $50,000 per year to 62% in families with household incomes of more than $100,000 per year.
That’s a significant portion of that age group! So, how do you know if your child is ready for a cell phone?
Here are 10 questions to ask yourself:
- What level of independence do your kids have?
- Are they responsible? How responsible?
- Do your kids need to connected via a phone for safety (or emergency) reasons — or simply social reasons?
- Are they mature enough to understand set limits for minutes talked, texts sent and apps downloaded? A great gauge is whether they understand time limits for things like TV and video games. Are they willing to sign a contract agreeing to the rules?
- Do they have an understanding of internet safety?
- Do they understand that some apps may give their location info to friends, and possibly even strangers?
- Do you trust them to not text during class or be disruptive in their conversations?
- Do you trust them to use text, photo, video and internet functions responsibly?
- Can you afford the expense of a new phone/data plans (or can they)?
- Can you trust them not to damage that new expensive smart phone?
If you’ve decided your child is ready for a cell phone, your next step is deciding upon a service provider and the right plan.
One thing I highly suggest adding to your child’s cell phone service is insurance (I just added it to my new phone). Even as a responsible adult, you know how easy it is to crack the screen on your phone (yep, done that), drop it in water (not saying I haven’t done that twice) or any number of other mishaps.
You can use a screen protector, a good cell phone case and take all the precautions (GottaHaveMyMobile.com has some great tips and tricks), but accidents happen. Phone insurance is a must unless you’re ready to shell out the cash for a brand new phone a week after you purchased the last one. And many tweens and teens are especially prone to carelessness, so the phone insurance is a must!
Asurion recently conducted a survey that found that parents, on average, replace more than one mobile phone per child each year – yikes! With smartphone costs in the range of $600, that’s an expensive risk to take. See full information on the survey here.
So remember, if your child or teen loses or breaks their phone, Asurion makes it fast and easy to get them reconnected so you have peace of mind when they’re not at home!
Does your child have a cell phone? At what age did they get one? Is it insured?