Author Topic: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?  (Read 1874 times)

Sugaree

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When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« on: February 20, 2019, 05:22:27 AM »
My kid asked last night when he was going to get his own cell phone.  He's in Kindergarten.  He really only wants it to play games on.  I blame DH for letting him put 1000 games on his phone.  It was already pretty much a given that he would end up getting a phone much earlier than I did since we haven't had a landline in 15+ years.  I just thought that we'd make it until at least 4th grade before I had to deal with the begging for one.  I'm still saying 4th grade, but I suspect that if he's said anything to the in-laws then they will indulge him.

When did your kids get their first phone?  What kind was it?  What's the best pre-paid plan for kids?  What kind of parental controls do you use?

nereo

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2019, 06:38:08 AM »
I've seen kids as young as 4 with their own cell phones (those modified versions with 3 pro-programmed buttons for calling Mom, Dad & Caretaker).  At present we're saying absolutely no way we're allowing a cell phone before 6th grade.  My niece is entering 4th in the SF Bay area and the pull for a cell phone is strong, but so far her parents have resisted.

Worth noting that at least one government advisor in Germany is calling ofr an outright ban on smartphones for children under the age of 14, citing the growing body of evidence for the negative effects it has on developing brains.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/02/15/german-government-adviser-recommends-ban-smartphones-children-younger-than/?utm_term=.93b758dff8b2

Spiffy

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2019, 08:43:40 AM »
I have three children. They each get one the summer before they start high school. That is when they start staying after school for clubs and doing other activities and need to be picked up at different times. Yes, they think this is completely unfair and dorky. Also, they are not allowed to have them in their room at night. They have to be plugged in at the kitchen table before bedtime.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2019, 08:45:44 AM by Spiffy »

Hula Hoop

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2019, 08:52:06 AM »
This is a timely discussion for me.  My older daughter is going to middle school next year (she's currently 10 and will be 11 next year).  Most kids here seem to get their first cell phones when they start middle school but I'm really nervous about this.  I think it's way too young to have the entire internet, not to mention social media, at a kid's fingertips.  Since she may start going to and returning from school by herself, we might get her a "dumb" phone so that she can call us - but I think a smart phone will have to wait.

NonprofitER

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2019, 09:09:19 AM »
Following this thread to learn from other families.

We have a 4th grader who is interested in her own phone -- though she knows us well enough to know her first phone will not have internet access. She's begging for a flip phone to start. At her school (which is private, high-income families), about 50% of her 4th - 5th grade classmates have phones, but most of them are not smart phones. Her school does not allow elementary or middle schoolers to have their phones out/about during the day.

Our current thinking is:
1) Flip phone "emergency" phone that lives at the house beginning soon - this would NOT be "her" phone, but would allow us to continue teaching her how to be safely at home alone
2) waiting until middle school for a non-screen/internet phone,
3) waiting until high school for a smart phone

We also do NOT have a landline phone and thus, the phone becomes a limiting factor as we're gradually teaching her how to begin to stay at home alone for short periods of time (have only done 15 min trips within the neighborhood so far - such as picking up the dog from the dog sitter's house, etc.). As she moves to age 10 - 11, we want to gradually lengthen the time she can spend at home alone. We've bought her the American Girl "Staying Home Alone" book to begin those discussions, and right now she does know basics like how to call the police via a button on our home alarm system, knows three neighbors well enough to knock on their doors during an emergency, and we've started discussions about what our daughter would be allowed to cook/watch/do when we're not home, etc. All this is a bit premature since we're not regularly leaving her alone yet, but we're building the knowledge base/expectations for her now.

Since phones invariably bring up issues around mental health, FOMO/social media, sexuality, etc. - we're beginning a sexual health program/curriculum this year (the OWL - Our Whole Lives program, which is not abstinence only based, but is age appropriate and has kids focus on developing/reflecting on their personal and family values).  It's super hard for parents (of any belief system) to imagine our kids getting old enough to deal with issues related to self esteem or sexuality, but we're trying to face it head-on and stay "askable" parents.

I'd also recommend the American Girl book on "Digital World" safety and beginning online safety conversations EARLY. Our daughter is pretty well versed on these issues but we continue to build on them. IE, she has a firm understanding that its not safe to "friend"/talk with/etc. "strangers" online, but we have also discussed the more likely scenarios, such as a friend or peer asking her for photos, etc. This article is an important one for both parents of boys and girls: https://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=22076
In other words, in addition to telling our kids (boys and girls!) DO NOT SEND SELFIES/NUDES, we also need to be telling them, IT'S NOT OK TO ASK/PRESSURE SOMEONE TO SEND YOU A SELFIE/NUDE PHOTO.  When I talked with my daughter (in an age appropriate way) about how as she gets older, digital safety and sexual pressure is less likely to come from strangers, but rather from a boy/girl she likes  or respects, it helped us both to envision the ways she could respond.

 

K-ice

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2019, 09:31:29 AM »
We were very tempted to get our 8y old a phone now they started taking the yellow school bus home.

But we resisted. They have an iPad and once in the house can text us if needed. Someone is home or the grandparents meet them most of the time. But twice this year we were grateful for the texts.

We also have a Ring doorbell so we know when they get home.

I think they only “need” a phone when they are going to activities alone. Even then, we never had phones back in the day.

You can probably go a few more years with a WiFi only device.

mm1970

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2019, 10:27:21 AM »
I think my husband gave kid #1 an old phone (WiFi only) when he upgraded, at age 9.  Without discussing it with me.   Ahem.  It wasn't very useful.

That got dropped and broken.

It eventually got replaced around age 10 or 11.  At 12, he got a phone number and it turned into a real phone.  That was the age when he started walking home from school by himself (2nd half of 6th grade), and also started going on bike rides with friends.

Now he's almost 13 and in junior high.  So he has to get himself home from school sometimes.  He doesn't take the phone to school though.  Most of the girls do (their parents want them to have phones if they are walking home).

sol

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2019, 10:49:34 AM »
Mine got flip phones at 11, which they basically refused to use, or keep turned on.  It turns out they didn't have any interest in having a literal telephone, they wanted a pocket computer to play games on and show off to their friends as a status symbol. 

They got smart phones at 13, with restricted data and all app permissions turned off, a parental monitoring tool installed, parents given full access to the very limited set of social media platforms, and no permission to install new apps.  And we STILL had problems with inappropriate usage. 

As soon as your kids get phones, they are going to cause problems.  Just accept that it's part of the process, once you cross that line.  You need to have a continuing dialogue about proper usage, the dangers of sharing information, and the foreverness of the internet.

« Last Edit: February 20, 2019, 12:03:58 PM by sol »

DadJokes

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2019, 11:53:58 AM »
Mine got flip phones at 11, which they basically refused to use, or keep turned on.  It turns out they didn't have any interest in having a literal telephone, they wanted a pocket computer to play games on and show off to their friends as a status symbol. 


Funny how early that starts in life

GizmoTX

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2019, 12:36:01 PM »
DS received an iPod for music around age 9. We gave him a dumb cellphone for his 11th birthday because he was increasingly involved in activities away from us & took good care of his iPod. The phone did not have internet access or games. He needed access to a computer for school work but we kept it in a common area & installed net nanny software on it until he was 16.  We gave him an iPhone at 16.

Kapiira

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2019, 01:38:29 PM »
We got my 3rd grader his own used iphone for Christmas.  We have it set up for him to use for music and to use as a camera.  It doesn't work to make calls or text.  We don't put games on it, but if we did, our electronics rules would still apply.  He had been asking for a phone and has been very happy with this arrangement.  His older brother got a functioning phone (no data) when he started walking home.

In my experience, young kids are pretty happy with anything called a phone.  Actually, when my oldest was in kindergarten we gave him a broken flip phone that became a treasured possession for years.

waltworks

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2019, 01:54:54 PM »
Setting aside the internet and gaming, both of which can be disabled, I don't see what the problem with giving a small child a telephone is as long as they know how to use it (and when it needs to be turned off), not to call 911 for no reason, and won't lose it.

Our 6 year old likes to wander around and do his own thing, and it's annoying to have to wander around the neighborhood shouting for him when it's dinnertime. I'd get him a phone in a hot second if I thought he could keep track of it, but it would get lost in the first several days, I'm sure.

So I think this question should really be split into 2 parts:
-When should a kid get a *telephone*
-When should a kid get a *smart phone*

I'd say, personally, whenever they can handle using it responsibly, in both cases.

-W



Dee18

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2019, 02:14:39 PM »
When she had enough money to buy her own phone at age 13.

ontheway2

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2019, 07:56:18 AM »
My oldest got a prepaid flip phone in 4th or 5th when he started staying home alone for tiny periods of time. He got my old smart phone in 6th since I was able to get a free new phone for myself ad 4 gb data for life for adding a line for him. After a year of keeping up with it, we upgraded his phone for Christmas in 7th. He has sports and is dropped off in a not so great area at night for a couple years now and travels with the team; I didn't want him relying on someone else having a phone if needed.
My first grader is getting a gizmowatch ($5/month) for his 7th bday since we are currently going through a divorce, and his dad is not exactly the best.

waltworks

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2019, 08:07:28 AM »
Wow, around here kids in 4th or 5th grade are babysitting, let alone staying home on their own. That starts around age 6 or 7 here (Utah). When our 6 year old doesn't want to come to our 4 year old's soccer "game" or something, he just hangs out at the house with instructions not to cook anything, and one of our phones to call/text us if needed.

Maybe we're weirdly old-school? Is it normal to not trust kids to be home on their own until like 11?!?

-W
« Last Edit: February 21, 2019, 08:11:25 AM by waltworks »

Sugaree

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2019, 08:49:33 AM »
In some states, they can't stay home alone by law until they are around 10.  My state doesn't expressly forbid it, but I don't know if I'd do it.  I'm more concerned about some busybody reporting me to child services than I am something actually happening to him. 

Hula Hoop

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2019, 08:49:59 AM »
Here in Italy, it's actually illegal to leave kids home alone until they are 14 (eye roll!)  However, it's normal for kids to walk or take public transit to school at 11. 

waltworks

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2019, 09:05:02 AM »
Yeah, I guess we're just weird here. I think nothing in particular of letting my 6 year old wander around on his own or be home alone. When I was in kindergarden I started walking myself to school, as I dimly recall. It was only maybe 1/4 mile, though.

Utah has an actual law about this:
https://www.sltrib.com/news/2018/03/31/utahs-free-range-parenting-law-said-to-be-first-in-the-nation/

It's totally normal in our neighborhood for young elementary age kids to be out riding their bikes or just generally making trouble. It would make me sad if it wasn't that way.

Back on topic: to me, a phone (telephone, that is) is *helpful* in helping kids do stuff on their own without a parent hanging over them the whole time. As such I view phones as a positive way to encourage independence. There's really no downside, other than the potential for losing/breaking the phone.

Smart phones/the internet is another story.

-W


AMandM

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2019, 11:02:00 AM »
We have seven kids.  The two youngest (15 & 16) don't have cell phones. The older ones got phones when they started college.

This is weirdly different from other replies, but it hasn't been an issue in our house.  For one thing, there's no peer pressure among our kids' friends to have a phone to show off. Most, not all, of their friends have phones but use them primarily for communicating rather than playing games. Our social circle leans pretty free-range, so the kids hang out together and there's usually at least one phone among them available for emergencies.

It probably also helps that my husband and I only recently (within the last few months) got a smartphone, which we share. No-one in our house has a tablet. Mostly we use the home phone (VOIP) to talk and laptops for games, email, and messaging.

YearninAndLearning

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #19 on: February 21, 2019, 11:13:20 AM »
My 9 year old son is in 4th grade and I got him a cell phone recently. I don't allow him to take it to school and he only brings it with him when he is at a friends or playing outside. I have a tracker on it so I can check up on him any time. He is in a safe place when he is at school and I know school officials would be in touch if anything were to happen. He doesn't need a phone at school, although many of his friends bring theirs to school.

mm1970

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2019, 05:36:20 PM »
Wow, around here kids in 4th or 5th grade are babysitting, let alone staying home on their own. That starts around age 6 or 7 here (Utah). When our 6 year old doesn't want to come to our 4 year old's soccer "game" or something, he just hangs out at the house with instructions not to cook anything, and one of our phones to call/text us if needed.

Maybe we're weirdly old-school? Is it normal to not trust kids to be home on their own until like 11?!?

-W

6 is generally too young.

I mean, my 6 yo could probably watch TV for 30 minutes and not get into trouble.  But I wouldn't leave him home alone.

I don't even leave the two of them home together (12 and 6).  That has more to do with their...interactions, as brothers.

Big kid: 11.
Our school:  has age limits for when you can walk home alone

better late

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #21 on: February 21, 2019, 07:19:59 PM »
1st child got Flip phone the summer before middle school. The second during 5th grade to make it easier  for me to carpool/pick up from after school sports.

1st child got a Smart phone at 16 so the new driver could use maps if they got lost and the second child at 15.5 so they could participate in the group text messages with their friends.

waltworks

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2019, 07:44:30 PM »
I mean, my 6 yo could probably watch TV for 30 minutes and not get into trouble.  But I wouldn't leave him home alone.

Our school:  has age limits for when you can walk home alone

Wow. Bummer on all counts.

I guess every kid and every school is a little different. But man, I'd be pretty pissed if our school tried to tell me what my kid can and can't do like that.

-W

FINate

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #23 on: February 21, 2019, 09:10:48 PM »
If my kids ever get a cell phone it will be a prepaid dumb phone for texting/calling to coordinate schedules with us.

I may be a weirdo Luddite, but not without reason. Worked in tech long enough to witness way too much crazy online: Inappropriate content in unexpected places, loony people, stalkers, exploitation, not to mention the many many layers of badness on social media. A device connected to the cell network is quite difficult to monitor. While there are parental control features on Android they are fairly crude and not nearly enough.

Besides, as someone mentioned up-thread, we're discovering how bad excessive screen time is for young kids. Games and social media trigger the reward feedback loop. Internet companies actively and intentionally built their products to take advantage of this. A developing brain doesn't stand a chance. It's the reason we have laws setting age limits for things like alcohol.

We don't have cable (thankfully!), but we still watch shows. For this the kids have a WiFi only Kindle Fire. The parental controls are decent, with built in screen time limits (unlike 3rd party paid for screen time limit apps on vanilla Android). We limit screen time to 30 min for each child, with it turned off overnight. Have also setup a separate WiFi network for the kids that enforces use of OpenDNS Family Shield, along with filtering at the router level. The DNS and filtering is very strict at this point, will open it up gradually for certain things as they get older. This may seem like overkill, but requires little to no work once configured, and an ounce of prevention...

In short, they can buy smartphones with their own money when they are adults. In the meantime, they can play outside, with Legos, draw and create, play board games, read, or do any number of other activities.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2019, 09:14:57 PM by FINate »

Michael in ABQ

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #24 on: February 22, 2019, 02:13:31 AM »

In short, they can buy smartphones with their own money when they are adults. In the meantime, they can play outside, with Legos, draw and create, play board games, read, or do any number of other activities.

This is almost exactly what I was going to write.

Our oldest is in 5th grade and many if not all his peers in a private Catholic school have phones. I survived without a cell phone until college, so can they. I see very limited upside to a phone (none for a smartphone) and huge potential downside.

Sugaree

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #25 on: February 22, 2019, 04:06:18 AM »
When she had enough money to buy her own phone at age 13.

He asked again last night.  And then asked if he could use the money in his bank account to buy a phone.  When I told him how much his dad's iPhone cost he thought about it for a minute and then said that he could get a cheaper phone instead.  I wasn't sure whether to be proud or annoyed.He wasn't pleased when I still told him no. He has already beaten me at the you-can-get-it-when-you-pay-for-it game.  That's why there is a 4 foot tall Batcave sitting in my living room....

davisgang90

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #26 on: February 22, 2019, 04:25:31 AM »
My youngest got his in middle school.  It stays in our bedroom overnight.  No electronics in his room.

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #27 on: February 22, 2019, 09:08:22 PM »
We have a 12 & 13 year old & they received their first phone at Christmas. They share a phone that can only call & text. They often forget to charge it, but have it to make calls during activities, which often get cancelled this time of year due to weather.

Most of their friends have had phones for years. We also don't allow any gaming of any kind during the school week. Too much other stuff going on - homework, sports, etc.

RFAAOATB

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #28 on: February 23, 2019, 03:55:23 PM »
As of now my default answer is when somewhere between 40 and 60% of her class has cell phones.  Of course she's two now so I may have some time to revise that.  Any elementary/middle school teachers want to tell me when 40-60% of the kids have phones these days?

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #29 on: February 23, 2019, 06:19:56 PM »
As of now my default answer is when somewhere between 40 and 60% of her class has cell phones.  Of course she's two now so I may have some time to revise that.  Any elementary/middle school teachers want to tell me when 40-60% of the kids have phones these days?

Way too early. Not an elementary school teacher, but we wanted to be in the last 25%, and I think we achieved that in our school by waiting until 7th grade.

Plugging Along

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #30 on: February 23, 2019, 07:12:28 PM »
My oldest got her first cell going in to grade 4.  It was an old used one for wifi, no data plan, and she would use it to text her friends and communicate,   We learned that it was hard to get the kids together or heaven forbid TALK on the phone becaus of the different activities the kid had.   This surprisely worked well, my child used it primarily for communication to set up activities. 

Then she got a data plan in grade 5, but this was cheap $10 add on to ours.   The only reason she got this was because the school bus lost her and her sister three times from sept to dec, so for Christmas she got data.   With her data plan, we could track her location and phone from anywhere, which normally, I didntl think was necessary, but when they dropped her off at the wrong school, then at a random street, and then left her sister, I had enough.

For her 13th birthday, we got her the full phone.  We did it partly because of peer pressure, but this is how her friends communicate. In her school, it’s really difficult to coordinate schedules. 

Her sister got a phone in grade 3, primary because she would be at different places that her sister.

I initially felt that grade 3/4 were too young. However, I am really glad I did it then.  One of e rules we had was the phone was not private.  I could go into her phone any time I wanted to review messages, or general activity.  As a result, I was able to see what the kids were doing, and coach on it.  There were lots of ‘mean girls’ people saying something stupid, ect.   I was able to go over those conversations with her on a nightly basis, and just talk about it what I was seeing and asking her about the events.  As a result, I think she had more guidance than most of Er friends, so she never had blow ups and the same drama like th other kids did.   Now, I can still go into her phone, but she uses the phone for communicating, and generally removes herself from groups when they start getting gossipy. Having her start at a young age on the phone, gave me the opportunity to teach her in a safe way whereas teens are not nearly as open. 

Alfred J Quack

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #31 on: March 06, 2019, 07:01:47 AM »
We don't have cable (thankfully!), but we still watch shows. For this the kids have a WiFi only Kindle Fire. The parental controls are decent, with built in screen time limits (unlike 3rd party paid for screen time limit apps on vanilla Android). We limit screen time to 30 min for each child, with it turned off overnight. Have also setup a separate WiFi network for the kids that enforces use of OpenDNS Family Shield, along with filtering at the router level. The DNS and filtering is very strict at this point, will open it up gradually for certain things as they get older. This may seem like overkill, but requires little to no work once configured, and an ounce of prevention...
Android has the Family options since android 8 and the kid's phone has to be Android 7 or higher. You can limit screentime, whitelist websites, apps need to be allowed by the parent before install and with Youtube kids you can control somewhat what he can see.
Paid apps are also available to the kids' devices but only if paid up front, not in-app purchases. In app-purchases need to be verified by the parent though, no free ride :) The only downside so far is that Google Family works up until 13 years of age, they can then disconnect the device regardless of the parents' views.

As a sysadmin, my son was using a defective older phone for some simple games but which is totally locked down in what he can and cannot do. Basically to prevent him from damaging my expensive phone, but also to gain a measure of control because if I say times up he goes into denial but when the phone says it he's fairly meek about it (so far :P). I still use the app Kidsplace to limit the amount of time he can spend in specific games, but the total screentime is now managed by Android.
If he wants one to call his friends with, he'll have to wait until he's 10 (at least). And even then he still gets a controlled phone where I can see who he calls, how long etc. He has expressed zero interest in that though.

Regarding the family DNS, I'm fairly uncertain about that. At a certain age they are going to show interest in the opposite (or same, i'm not judging) sex. I can block it easily and I wouldn't want him to go straight for the nasty stuff but I wonder how to, um, ease him into exploring things in a responsible way. That was something I didn't really get from my parents, my dad never said anything and the one time my mom did I was 17 and basically horrified.

FLBiker

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #32 on: March 06, 2019, 08:19:24 AM »
DD is almost 4, and our plan is when she starts driving.  I like the idea of getting a non-smart phone earlier if she need to be home alone or stay after school or whatever.

We're very strict about screen time.  She never uses our phones, we have no tablets, and she might watch 30 minutes a week of TV (Daniel Tiger or Reading Rainbow).  Obviously, at some point, she'll start using a computer, but I don't see why we'd ever let her use a phone / tablet for games / social media.  Not to say I'm 100% opposed to video games.  We do have a Wii, and I wouldn't object to her playing video games in reasonable doses.  The problem with games on phones is their addictive and ever-present nature.  A flicker of boredom and the phone is in hand before the thought has even formed.  Constant stimulation isn't good for us.

trollwithamustache

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #33 on: March 06, 2019, 08:20:00 AM »
At age 9, they got a phone that could call either of us.  This was tied with walking to school.  Without a phone I don't think my wife would have been ready for them to walk. 

FINate

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #34 on: March 06, 2019, 09:57:45 AM »
We don't have cable (thankfully!), but we still watch shows. For this the kids have a WiFi only Kindle Fire. The parental controls are decent, with built in screen time limits (unlike 3rd party paid for screen time limit apps on vanilla Android). We limit screen time to 30 min for each child, with it turned off overnight. Have also setup a separate WiFi network for the kids that enforces use of OpenDNS Family Shield, along with filtering at the router level. The DNS and filtering is very strict at this point, will open it up gradually for certain things as they get older. This may seem like overkill, but requires little to no work once configured, and an ounce of prevention...
Android has the Family options since android 8 and the kid's phone has to be Android 7 or higher. You can limit screentime, whitelist websites, apps need to be allowed by the parent before install and with Youtube kids you can control somewhat what he can see.
Paid apps are also available to the kids' devices but only if paid up front, not in-app purchases. In app-purchases need to be verified by the parent though, no free ride :) The only downside so far is that Google Family works up until 13 years of age, they can then disconnect the device regardless of the parents' views.

As a sysadmin, my son was using a defective older phone for some simple games but which is totally locked down in what he can and cannot do. Basically to prevent him from damaging my expensive phone, but also to gain a measure of control because if I say times up he goes into denial but when the phone says it he's fairly meek about it (so far :P). I still use the app Kidsplace to limit the amount of time he can spend in specific games, but the total screentime is now managed by Android.
If he wants one to call his friends with, he'll have to wait until he's 10 (at least). And even then he still gets a controlled phone where I can see who he calls, how long etc. He has expressed zero interest in that though.

Regarding the family DNS, I'm fairly uncertain about that. At a certain age they are going to show interest in the opposite (or same, i'm not judging) sex. I can block it easily and I wouldn't want him to go straight for the nasty stuff but I wonder how to, um, ease him into exploring things in a responsible way. That was something I didn't really get from my parents, my dad never said anything and the one time my mom did I was 17 and basically horrified.

Thanks for the info. This is frustratingly classic Google design - stuff parents want to control littered in various places. Parental Controls for some things, Family Link for others, unintuitive configuration. At the end of the day, however, I'm going to lock down pretty much everything except games and curated video (Amazon Prime, not YouTube), and will continue to filter at the router since I'm not totally confident in what the restrictions on the device are doing. In other words, for us it's intentionally a limited-use media device, not a smart phone. When they eventually get a phone it will be for doing phone-y things, not watching videos or social media or browsing the web.

FireHiker

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #35 on: March 06, 2019, 11:29:22 AM »
My oldest got his first phone shortly after he turned 11, when he was halfway through 5th grade. I had a newborn and a toddler at the time. I worked part-time from home and walked to pick him up from school, but there were several times when I would be nursing the baby or have an urgent diaper change or (insert other baby/toddler related delay here) right at pick up time. One day I was late, missed him at a certain spot, and couldn't find him (there were 2 different ways to go at a certain juncture and we picked opposite ones). About a month prior there had been an incident nearby with child safety ending in a murder, (not a dangerous area but shit happens anywhere), so I was on edge. He got a cellphone the next day so that I could text him if I was running late and know which way he was going. Of course, within a month he had broken his phone (it was not a smart phone but it was a decent phone for texting) and ended up with a go phone for the next two years. I think he got his first hand me down smartphone at 13?

For my younger kids, honestly, I'm not sure what we'll do. We don't have a landline so we've been talking about adding a line for one of our old phones and keeping it at the house. My husband has an awesome veteran deal through T-Mobile where it's $90/mo for 3 smart phones including unlimited talk, text, and data including 140+ international countries. It's only $10/mo to add additional lines to the plan. I suspect both younger kids will get phones at the same time, even though my youngest may be younger than I'd choose if I didn't have the other kid 23 months older. Neither of my younger kids have friends with phones yet except the occasional Verizon-based watch phone thing.


CindyBS

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #36 on: March 06, 2019, 04:38:00 PM »
A couple things to keep in mind when deciding this:

1) there are no payphones anymore (at least near me).  Meaning once you kid is old enough to walk or bike places, they have no way to call anyone if they have a problem without a phone.

2) If you don't have a home phone, you will run into the same problem at home.  You may have a child mature enough to stay home alone, but without a phone, how would they call someone in an emergency. 

We have a magic jack for home service b/c we wanted to hold off on getting our younger son a phone.  It was like $60 the first year, but then after that it was $99 for 5 years.  We have decided to keep it since sometimes the kids are flakey about charging their phones.   

Our kids have older smart phones, data turned off.  They are 13 and 15.  They got them in 4/5th grade time period when they started staying home alone and going around town by themselves - biking to a friend's house, walking home from school, etc. 

Tuskalusa

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #37 on: March 06, 2019, 05:08:49 PM »
I got my sin a phone when he went to middle school. Since he walks there and back on his own and we head to work, it’s a good way for us to keep in touch. We added a Cricket one to an older model refurbished iPhone.

CarolinaGirl

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #38 on: March 06, 2019, 05:34:49 PM »
Both of my sons were given an iPhone when they were 13.  I chose he iPhone so I can stalk them geographically.  :)

Tuskalusa

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #39 on: March 06, 2019, 06:13:58 PM »
Both of my sons were given an iPhone when they were 13.  I chose he iPhone so I can stalk them geographically.  :)

Yes!  This is one of the big reasons I went with the iPhone too!

Alfred J Quack

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #40 on: March 06, 2019, 11:49:29 PM »
Google family does tracking too though, every time I open maps I see me sons phone location (always at home though :P).

Nick_Miller

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #41 on: March 07, 2019, 11:12:53 AM »
I need to read through all of this thread, which I haven't done yet...

but I really feel like we need a dedicated "smartphones and teenagers" thread because by God this issue is the single biggest issue parents of teens face these days.

BeanCounter

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #42 on: March 07, 2019, 11:21:41 AM »
I am so nervous about all of this as I strongly believe that smart phone's for kids is not a good thing but also recognize the need for them. We have a 6 and 10 year old. Currently we have one family ipad that lives in the tv room. And a Ooma telo voip phone as a home phone. In the near future I am planning to get a flip phone or use my old iPhone 5 (disabling internet if possible) to use as the "house" cell phone to give a kid when they are out and about. To be returned to it's charger when they get home. I think this will work for awhile and then when they get to be 8th grade we can give them their own phone.  We'll see how it goes.

SEAK

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #43 on: March 07, 2019, 12:32:25 PM »
Our kiddos are age 11 and 9 and they currently do not have have cell-phones. We have a land- line at the house and the plan is for neither to have a smartphone before high school. When/if they do get a cell-phone in high school there will be limitations on its use, i.e. not phone is bedroom past a certain time at night, etc.

Nick_Miller

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #44 on: March 07, 2019, 02:17:37 PM »
@SEAK, Just giving you a heads up, there will be TREMENDOUS pressure for your kids to get phones in middle school. Mostly because 90% of their classmates will have them, and they will feel ostracized if they aren't able to join the group texts, snapchats, play the same games, everyone else is playing.

Imagine being "out of the loop" on what's going on with 90% of your classmates, at a time (middle school) when kids push away from their parents and gain most of their identity (and happiness) through their "tribe" (other kids).

I'm not saying it's impossible or anything, and I wish you the best of luck, but as the parent of a middle schooler, I see how phones = life to these kids, especially girls.

dang1

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #45 on: March 07, 2019, 10:10:05 PM »
We got my son a featurephone- a tough as nails Nokia, at 9, that was 2006, mainly for emergencies/safety - also, a way to keep in touch when he was at the other parent. First smartphone- a used Nexus S, early in high school, about the same time he assembled his gaming rig. This year, graduating college with an ecology bachelors- he actually prefers reading on paper over screens. He spends alot of time - school projects, backpacking, mtn biking, in places with no cell signal, never sure about handheld ham radio signal; so, I got him an inreach se satellite 2-way text device. Some bad falls from his bike in the past, he keeps it stashed in his pack. His current phone is a Galaxy S8.

I think, him having a phone early, helps keep our communication stronger- especially with separate parent's households. I still have voicemails from years ago when he called me just say me misses me. Just being connected, helps assure him he can reach out anytime.

lol, he had actually logged in into an old phone of mine one time with his google account and forgot to log out. So, for years in high school and early college, unbeknownst to him, I had access to his online life. He must have wondered how I could bring up relevant discussion topics at the right time, lol.  I made sure I didn't factory reset that phone while it lasted. I'm sure we'll laugh about it years from now.

When a kid can't be strapped to a stroller anymore, is the time to get them a  two way communication device. A kid friendly wrist device like the Gizmo Watch would be next to strap on a kid, when a Tile tracker just can't cut it anymore, lol. When my son was 2, out shopping with his mom, Old Navy actually dropped those steel gates when mom yelled- "where's my kid?". Turned out he had crawled underneath a coat rack just an aisle away.

gatortator

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #46 on: March 08, 2019, 10:51:59 AM »
in some ways the smartphone question is easy....  I am in my early 40s and still have never owned a smartphone.  therefore my 10 year sees everyday that one can survive without a smartphone.   in other ways I am at a disadvantage, as I do not use any of the apps myself and have some ignorance for what's out there.

I will pay to get the kid will get a feature phone likely in junior high (7grade here).  officially the elementary school bans them but  about 1/2 of the 4th grade class has them according to the kid.

if the kid chooses to save their allowance to get a phone sooner, we'll deal with it.  sort of like a driver's license,  I am thinking of creating a cell phone license that the kid has to pass before the cell phone can be used.  License violations may cause the cell phone to revoked.   Everything that everyone is posting in this thread and the other thread is very interesting to me and is helping me to "dial in" (yes, pun) what will be included on the license test.  I figure I have at least one more year before I start feeling pressure from the kid.

also, I am currently pondering this article to get both myself and the kid prepared for this.
https://www.vickihoefle.com/tweens-technology-sexting/

mm1970

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #47 on: March 08, 2019, 01:40:12 PM »
I mean, my 6 yo could probably watch TV for 30 minutes and not get into trouble.  But I wouldn't leave him home alone.

Our school:  has age limits for when you can walk home alone

Wow. Bummer on all counts.

I guess every kid and every school is a little different. But man, I'd be pretty pissed if our school tried to tell me what my kid can and can't do like that.

-W
Funny when you realize that half the kids take the school bus.  Nobody's necessarily checking up on them on the other end, ya know?

FINate

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #48 on: March 08, 2019, 02:04:05 PM »
I say this as someone who worked in tech for a long time: Either passively allow technology to consume your life, our realize that you have agency and proactively determine how technology fits into your life. Neither you nor your kids are required to be slaves to phones, or to the expectations of others around you.

If phones are taking over at home don't just plug them in at a charging station. Turn them off, or put them in a cell phone jail (a Faraday cage to block wireless signals).

My aspiration isn't for my kids to fit in perfectly with their peers. The entire premise of MMM is counter cultural, and that's a good thing. FIRE is weird. Biking instead of driving is weird. I want my kids to experience being different rather than reflexively fitting in.

If you must be accessible for work after hours then you should be getting paid to be on call, with clear parameters for what qualifies as an emergency and additional compensation per call. But let's face it, 99% of the time off-hour calls/texts are not bona fide emergencies. Responding to these conditions your boss and/or peers to think of you as "always on." Stop responding after hours. If you must, then tell people you'll work on it the next work morning. If your company or boss cannot deal with you having your own life and your own time then start looking for another job. See also the article on Workism in The Atlantic.

kanga1622

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Re: When did/will your kids get their first cell phone?
« Reply #49 on: March 15, 2019, 10:20:23 PM »
We haven’t done phones yet but likely will before our oldest starts 6th grade. There would be no after school care so I want a way to make sure he gets home and has a way to call for help if needed. I really want something with GPS tracking too so I can “watch” him walk from the bus to the house. He may be involved in after school clubs by that time so I would need a way to know when he needs a ride or if they are running late. We’ve got 2 more years before we make this decision so I am loosely keeping an eye on what exists now.

He’s quite obsessed with video games now so we would need to have a way to limit time within apps not related to schoolwork. I also don’t want him full internet access but since he can already manage access to YouTube through our Roku boxes, I worry that this is a loosing battle.