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When is your child ready to own their first cellphone?

Posted at 4:23 PM, May 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-05 08:46:00-04

Parents, is your child approaching the age where you're thinking about getting them a cellphone? But you don't know if they are old enough? 

The question is tricky because unlike driving a car, there isn't a legal guideline.

"Parent's themselves feel uncertain about what the rules should be, they didn't have a cellphone when they were young, " said Dr. Eve Shapiro, Pediatrician with Orange Grove Pediatrics.

So what is the right age to buy your child a cellphone? Dr. Shapiro says children shouldn't have them until they're approaching their teen years. Some studies show parents are giving them to their 10-year-olds, even as young as 7.

"If there's an issue with a child being in touch with parents,  they might be out late, then that's fine. Medical or safety,  those are reasons for younger kids. Other than that,  I think it's better to wait until kids are older," said Dr. Shapiro. 

According to Dr. Shapiro, here are some questions you should ask yourself before you buy your child a cellphone. Most importantly, is your child mature enough to own one?

"If you have a conversation with the kids about the concerns, and they understand and don't think you're being difficult,  then that indicates level of responsibility. Plus, how they behave in the rest of their lives. Parents have a sense of that from how they deal with school, homework, and activities," said Dr. Shapiro.

Along with maturity, ask the following:

- Will they use the cellphone responsibly?

- Will they avoid inappropriate text?

- Does your child understand the use of social media and cyberbullying?
- Talk to them about data usage limits. 

-Will they refrain from using the phone in class or late at night?
Dr. Shapiro also suggests that parents set rules and don't feel peer pressured if other children have phones and your child isn't ready.

"Parents don't want their kids to feel deprived, but I think at some point you have to say I have to do what's right in raising my child," added Dr. Shapiro.